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This is Obituary - 90%

enshinkarateman, January 1st, 2008

Obituary’s “Xecutioner’s Return” is one hell of an album. Make no mistake, there is nothing contained within that will appeal to any “br00tal kiddies” that plague today’s death metal bands. There aren’t any done-to-death blast beats, there’s no soullessly “technical” riffage, and there sure as Hell isn’t any -core influence. What we have here is Death Metal stripped to its essentials-crushing riffs played at a variety of speeds, amazing solos, and a vocalist who sounds like he’s being tortured in the pit of Hell. What we have here is Obituary.

This album is loaded with fantastic metal, from the fast opener “Face Your God” to the swaggering riffage of “Second Chance”, to the finale of “In Your Head.” There’s something here for every type of metal fan, be it the thrashy “Lasting Presence” and “Seal Your Fate”, or the doom-filled epic “Contrast the Dead”, or, if you enjoy just about all metal, you’ll probably enjoy everything on this album.

The guitar solos on “Xecutioner’s Return” are breathtaking. With one, two, or three in every song, it’s so refreshing to hear guitar work like this in an era in which many bands seem to have a “solos-optional” mentality. Santolla has really outdone himself here. The riffs are heavy, and usually don’t change much throughout a song. Luckily, they are enjoyable enough to carry the entire song, which most of which, lucky for my attention span, are fairly short. The bass is low, and difficult to hear, and just follows the guitar. The drums are pretty darn good, and Donald Tardy is skilled at laying down a beat, whether it’s fast and thrashy, or slow and groovy.

John Tardy’s vocals must be praised. He has a unique voice that literally sounds like someone is torturing him, and yet you can still understand almost every word he’s saying. His lyrics are typical of Obituary, and don’t take away from the listening experience at all. He truly is one of the best vocalists in death metal, and his performance here only solidifies his reputation.

“Xecutioner’s Return” has proved to be one of the best releases of 2007, and, it’s nice to see a band wave the flag of old-school death metal in an era diluted by deathcore and watered-down "melodeth". Well done, Obituary, well done.

Highlights: Seal Your Fate, Face Your God, Second Chance