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Suffocation, Killing, The Chance Denied - 90%

Five_Nails, September 29th, 2009

A very influential band in the burgeoning Florida death metal scene of the early 1990s, Obituary lay down a relentless mix of thrash and thunderous death metal brutality. With each song becoming heavier and more disturbing than the next, Obituary was immediately poised to take the death metal world by storm and become one of the main influences in the genre.

“Slowly We Rot” has the energetic feel that most thrash fans will find in the musical genre, but some elements of this album represent the evolution into death metal as each song becomes faster in tempo, brings in more double bass kicking, features more complicated riffs, and the vocals change from the harsh thrash yelling and screaming to some experimentation with death metal gutturals and a lot of horrified shrieking.

The vocals are great, exploding forth with tortured wails fearfully describing every act of malevolence occurring in each song. The only fault I can find with the vocals is that they’re a little too loud in the mix and make it hard for the music around them to be heard.

From the beginning, it’s obvious that Obituary likes to tone it down. Songs like the title track, “Godly Beings”, and “Till Death”, and “Gates to Hell” show that right off the bat this band likes to feed the amoral beast of breakdown to the public and at other times keep the entire tempo of a song nice and slow. This style is very overplayed today, but even with so many breakdowns in modern metal this has such personality and brutality to it that the style doesn’t become overplayed at all. In actuality, the breakdowns empower the faster sections later in each song.

Some of the best songs on this album are “Suffocation”, “Slowly We Rot”, and “Stinkpuss”. These songs stand out among all the great tracks on this album and are some of the most brutal of the track listing. The solos in “Suffocation” really show the direction of death metal at the time, blistering but still a little bluesy and melodic, much different from what is heard today with bands like Necrophagist who solo throughout a song or Nile where a solo will have no melody but pure rage throughout each vibration of the strings. The guitars have a good down-tuned chugging to them that make each song heavier than the last, and when each solo comes in, it is as though an ode to Reign in Blood is being played.

It’s obvious that drumming has become a new focal point in this iteration of heavy metal compared to their thrash predecessors. Nearly every song features thundering double bass kicking, snare and cymbal bursts and at times overshadows the guitars. The drums do not grind or blast as much as they could to bring in more balls to each song, but they are good in all and add well to the breakdowns in some of the songs. It seems as though the drummer was a little overwhelmed with his newfound prominence in the mix, but as the album continues the drumming does get more complicated and brings more to each song like in “Bloodsoaked” and “Deadly Intentions”.

In all, this album is great, as any death metal fan would attest to, and like so many of Obituary’s albums should join the collections of any death metal fan who wants to resurrect the old Tampa, Florida death metal scene and hear some of the most underground music on the planet or explore some of the influences of today’s death metal newcomers.