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I always figured Obituary to be one of the more overrated original Florida death metal bands. They definitely had their moments back in the first few albums, but after breaking up and releasing a couple of mediocre comeback albums it became obvious that with each subsequent album they were tarnishing their image even further. The only intriguing aspect to "Xecutioner's Return" is the arrival of Ralph Santolla, whose entrance in another Florida death metal band known as Deicide completely revamped the band. His guitar work was an integral part of what made "The Stench of Redemption" so damn amazing.
Sadly, Santolla falls victim to overindulgence where all of his solos are just endless streams of "meedley-meedley" with no theme or common melody at all. The rest of the band lacks any sort of technical talent whatsoever and are relegated to simple riffs, bass lines, and drumming. There is not much variation in anything that is played, especially the riffs, and their only two speeds seem to be somewhat fast or slow. Of course, the speed does not really matter, because the songs suck regardless. "Contrast the Dead" drones on for seven unbearable minutes while "Evil Ways" is done in less than three, but the lengths do not make a difference because the music is worthless anyway.
The only song that is worthwhile at all is the opener "Face Your God." The fast riff with John Tardy's yelling actually adds something to the song. Ralph Santolla's solo is still a meedley-meedley type, but it is rather fun to listen to. Even so, the solo doesn't really fit with the rest of the song, and that diminishes from its overall value. Actually, none of Santolla's work really fits in with the rest of the band; he was a far better fit in Deicide. In Obituary, his talents are being wasted.
Another major detriment to "Xecutioner's Return" is the production, especially concerning the guitar sound. What the hell where they thinking when they heard what their guitar was sounding like as it was being recorded? It is far from intense, heavy or brutal and only serves as an annoyance. Plus John Tardy's vocals are far too high in the mix, all he does is scream his (thankfully) incoherent lyrics at the same pitch throughout.
About 15 years ago, Obituary were an above average death metal band. Now they're just a bunch of talentless rednecks (and an out-of-place guitar virtuoso) clinging to a name that has not been relevant for some time. There are far better bands out there now who are writing albums that far surpass anything that Obituary will ever put out again.