Sunday Old School: Obituary
Band Photo: Obituary (?)
Believe it or else, there was a time when death metal didn’t consist of bands who looked and sounded exactly the same, when it was an exciting new genre, spurred on by the likes of Possessed and Kreator. Like all genres, it had some bands that stood out more than others, and one group who stood out due to their undeniable quality and fresh approach, was Obituary. Obituary were originally formed by brothers John and Donald Tardy under the name Executioner in 1984, before altering their moniker to Xecutioner, prior to finally (and wisely) changing their name once again in 1988 to Obituary. Soon after the final name change, they entered Morrisound Studios to record with Scott Burns, who within the studio, also produced several other extreme metal classics such as "Effigy of the Forgotten" by Suffocation and a number of albums by Cannibal Corpse. The result was their first album, "Slowly We Rot," which was released in the summer of 1989 through Roadracer Records. The album was very well received, and many Obituary fans still regard it as their heaviest record to date. They were soon faced with the task of finding new members however, as guitarist Allen West and bass player Daniel Tucker parted company with the group, leaving their shoes to be filled by former Death guitarist James Murphy and hardcore loving bassist Frank Watkins respectively. This new lineup soon recorded a second album, "Cause Of Death," released the next year to similar praise. The album featured artwork by Michael Whelan which was originally going to be used by Sepultura for their "Beneath The Remains" album, but Obituary were allowed to use it first. It also contained a cover of the classic Celtic Frost song, "Circle of the Tyrants" and is today regarded as a true classic in the death metal genre.
This would prove to be their only record with Murphy, as the band welcomed Allen West back into the fold soon afterwards. They got to work on their third album, "The End Complete," which remains the biggest selling record to date, shifting well over half a million copies worldwide and gaining the band their first entry into the Billboard charts, peaking at number 16 on the Top Heatseekers chart. Although were not able to replicate this commercial success with the follow up, "World Demise," they made much of a profound statement, particularly with the music video for the album opener, "Don’t Care," which was seen as an environmental protest song, and featured shocking images of pollution. The album featured a number of other bleak sounding songs too, "Final Thoughts," "Lost" and the title track in particular. It would be three years before they released another record, which finally came in 1997 under the title, "Back From the Dead," the first Obituary album not to be produced by Scott Burns. The record received mixed reviews and, owing mostly to a lack of desire for touring, the band decided to call it a day soon after its release, marking their breakup with a live album suitably entitled, "Dead."
Members of the band focused their attention on other projects during this hiatus, including Allen West devoting more time to Six Feet Under, the band featuring former Cannibal Corpse vocalist Chris Barnes, and Donald Tardy performing drums for party animal Andrew W.K., with whom he was able to perform on the legendary TV show, Saturday Night Live, proudly sporting an Obituary shirt on the programme. After six years however, Obituary decided to reform and got to work on their “comeback” album, "Frozen In Time," which was released in 2005 through their old record label, Roadrunner. The album was a hit with fans, thanks in part to the return of Scott Burns behind the mixing board, and they followed its success with their first live DVD, "Frozen Alive," which documented a live show in the Polish capital city of Warsaw.
They were soon to face their first change in lineup since, "The End Complete" however, when original guitarist West decided to once again leave the group, his place taken by Deicide guitarist Ralph Santolla. They also changed record labels for the first time in their career, signing to former Extreme Noise Terror bassist, Lee Barretts, Candlelight Records for their next album, "Xecutioner’s Return," which was released in 2007. The album received a similar reception to "Frozen in Time," cementing the Obituary reunion as a triumphant one, and an EP, "Left To Die" soon followed, which featured another Celtic Frost cover, this time being, "Dethroned Emperor." After touring in support of the album, including stops at European metal festivals such as Graspop Metal Meeting, they recorded their ninth album, "Darkest Day," which hit the shelves in 2009. The band have been hit by two departures since then, with Santolla quitting to focus his energy on Deicide and longtime bass player Frank Watkins leaving for a place in the new lineup of Norwegian black metal outfit, Gorgoroth, his place being taken by former Six Feet Under and Death bassist, Terry Butler. The band are currently on tour in Europe, performing mostly at summer festivals, but are said to be working on material for their tenth studio album.
Obituary - "Slowly We Rot"
Obituary - "Turned Inside Out"
Obituary - "I'm In Pain"
Obituary - "Don't Care"
Obituary - "Evil Ways"
Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.
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