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Obituary - "Darkest Day" (CD)

Obituary - "Darkest Day" CD cover image

"Darkest Day" track listing:

1. List of Dead (3:34)
2. Blood to Give (3:35)
3. Lost Inside (3:55)
4. Outside My Head (3:52)
5. Payback (4:29)
6. Your Darkest Day (5:07)
7. This Life (3:45)
8. See Me Now (3:23)
9. Fields of Pain (3:19)
10. Violent Dreams (1:58)
11. Truth Be Told (4:49)
12. Forces Realign (4:39)
13. Left to Die (6:20)

Reviewed by on October 11, 2010

"Overall, “Darkest Day” keeps to the slow end of the Obituary arsenal, with only four of the album’s 13 tracks offering a glimpse of the band’s occasional penchant for speed."

One of the great paradoxes of metal is that critics will assail a band for lacking innovation one minute and then hail another band for sticking to their tried and true formula the next. Obituary invariably finds itself on the latter half of this equation, and the reason is likely that the trademark sound they honed on death metal classics such as “Slowly We Rot” and “Cause of Death” was so powerful and endearing that it would have been pure foolishness to pull an artistic about face. Just ask Cryptopsy how that worked out. That’s why when Obituary goes about making another nearly identical studio album, as they have with their latest, “Darkest Day,” fans are more than happy to rehash those monolithic mainstays of the Obituary sound.

“Darkest Day” comes out all guns blazing with “List of Dead,” the atypical Obituary rapid fire floor mover. It’s clear from the get go that John Tardy’s voice has lost nothing in the 20 years since he basically reinvented death vocals. From there the album settles into a sludgy groove, slowing down the tempo for a few tracks.

As always, the buzz saw Obituary tone and simplistic, chugging riffs are there. Everyone’s favorite fill-in Ralph Santolla brings his viscous, fluid leads to the mix on songs such as “Outside My Head,” which hold true to the Obituary back catalogue. Later on, in the midst of a six-song slow kick, the title track comes in with its unmistakably old-school intro, and tremolo bar dive bombs abound. John Tardy once again utilizes his voice as a musical accompaniment to the guitar riffs, his vocal lines stalking them like the unholy undead.

For a while, it feels like “Darkest Day” is going to stay comfortably mired in the mid-paced muck for its duration until “See Me Now” briefly brings the band back to the urgency it displayed on the opening salvo. Later, “Fields of Pain” reminds of “Dying” from “Cause of Death,” as the lyrics don’t kick in until the song is almost over. John Tardy seems to have a utilitarian bassist’s mindset—sometimes you just have to know when to stay out of the song and bang your floor-length locks for a while.

Overall, “Darkest Day” keeps to the slow end of the Obituary arsenal, with only four of the album’s 13 tracks offering a glimpse of the band’s occasional penchant for speed. The album appropriately closes with the six-minute-plus “Left to Die,” a plodding, methodic number that hammers home the fact that this is where Obituary’s comfort zone lies—in the putrid primordial ooze of the beast spawning Florida swamps. We wouldn’t ask anything more and would expect nothing less from Obituary. Personnel changes over the years aside, the core of the Tardy brothers and guitarist Trevor Peres remains intact. And within that core lies that untouchable Obituary codex that, while not especially difficult to decipher, purists wouldn’t have the band alter for anything.

Highs: This album is everything Obituary's fan base has come to expect.

Lows: Upping the tempo more often could have given the album a better sense of balance.

Bottom line: With Obituary, you always know what you're going to get, and they do not disappoint.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)