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Death Metal aquires awareness of self. - 90%

Fungicide, October 21st, 2004

Obituary released Cause Of Death back in the days when people realised that you didn’t have to simulate masturbation with your fret board to innovate in death metal, and playing extreme music really fast does not make you the winner, cause Dark Angel already won the race in ‘86 (unless you’re ‘otherwise abled’ in which case you’re always a winner). Cause of Death took things a step forward by distilling the raw essence of the genre (probably from zombie’s eyeballs) and slowing it way the fuck down to make sure you’re paying attention, and borrowing Spinal Tap’s amps so they could put the volume up to 11. Slowly we rot sounded like it was slow because the band was having trouble playing their instruments. Cause of Death is slow so you can each individual hammer blow to your pelvis, vertebrae and cranium.
Most albums that try to be really Death Metal end up as some kind of pathetic self parody –exhibit A. anything by Cannibal Corpse. Cause of Death isn’t like that because Obituary isn’t trying to be really death metal, that’s just the way they are. Songs like Chopped In Half are nothing but unadulterated classic death metal, and you’ll fucking know it when you some rabid corpse bellow ‘WRAAAAAHHHHCHOPPED IN HALF!’ the words emerging from the scream.
In terms of innovation, Slowly We Rot is going to be the album people talk about, and they’re right to because it took pushed back the boundaries of the genre. However it only did so in the ‘Look, we can growl deeper and have a more buzzsaw-like guitar tone than anyone else’, which someone was bound to do anyway, and being the most extreme in the late 80’s and early 90’s was a five minutes of fame that wasn’t worth having. Cause of Death was probably the first existential Death Metal album in the sense that it started to deal with what the genre was and how it works rather than Deathesque ‘look we’re Kreator but heavier’, Morbid Angelesque ‘look, we can play Slayer riffs with more dissonance’ and so on and so forth. Not that I don’t love those band’s early albums, it’s just that Cause Of Death also had something important and new about it.
Cause of Death does have flaws, if not quite all the riffs being completely great can fairly be called a flaw. But that doesn’t detract from the importance of this album historically and artistically. Listen to this next to any ‘IY AMM WINNNAR!!!11’ 1000 beat a second death metal album (like half of the Relapse catalogue) and then tell me which is more brutal. Obituary can’t fucking lose.