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Obituary - Xecutioner's Return

Label: Candlelight
Format: CD
Released: 2007
Reviewed By: The Goat

This is a very frustrating and inconvenient release. First, due to copy protected features on the promo CD itself, I was unable to listen to the album in my car. To reveal a reviewer's secret (not really a trade secret though), I do majority of my first listens driving to work. It eases (or not) the commute.


So, after this first failure, I put the CD in my computer to listen to it. It wouldn't play there either. In addition to this issue, it would not, I repeat would not let my computer's disc drive release the CD. I had to use the little pin hole to release the CD. I was fearful that my computer's disc drive was damaged. This did not put me in a good mood. I had to use an old school CD player from my bedroom.

So, was the trouble worth it? All the technological security measures to keep this release from being leaked or pirated lead to a favorable listen? Yes and no.

This is my caveat: I am not a huge Obituary fan. While John Tardy's voice is one of the more distinctive voices in Death Metal, I have never been enamored by Obituary. Personally, I have found Trevor Peres' and Allen West's guitar work not the most inspired of death metal. I like my death metal a little more complex, but not to the point of Chuck Schulinder (the late Death guitarist) progginess. While I am a fan of Six Feet Under, I thought they improved greatly when Steve Swanson joined the ranks.

The verdict: “Xecutioner's Return” is most assuredly for the fans of Obituary. It has an old school vibe running through it that makes it unique in this respect. For those who have heard about Ralph Santolla's appearance on this album, I say don't slaver too much. This is not Deicide and while he adds a little more technicality, Obituary is not a technical death metal band. Santolla's style seems to be lost in grind that Obituary delivers. In some respects, it would be like Yngwie Malmsteen playing as lead guitarist for Gwar.

What really works for Obituary is when they become plodding, dirge like and stomping. 'Feel the Pain' and 'Contrast the Dead' are examples of how effective they are when they do this. The drumming is fast but the pace of the guitars and rhythms is sluggish and lazy, giving the songs a far more ominous vibe. There are a few other non-plodding songs that stood out as being better than the rest of the album, such as the track 'Lies', which packs a certain wallop that I was really able to get into. The militaristic march of 'In Your Head' is another that demonstrates some promise and will probably be pretty good for a mosh pit live.

One of the problems I have with Obituary is that many of the songs sound alike. The rhythmic pace of the words seems too formulaic. This bothers me because in a time where there are so many death metal bands out there looking to blow away an audience and so many that are nearly clones of each other, it would be wise for the older more established bands to demonstrate how death metal is really played by upping the ante and destroying the listener. Innovation is key in this fast paced processed world. There is nothing innovative about Obituary.

Case in point, listen to the new Cannibal Corpse. Erik Rutan brought out an aggressive edge in their sound that had not been there in a long while. Cannibal Corpse, while their shocking schtick has lessened in this desensitized era, has gained a sharper sound as a result and can keep their legacy relevant. I have difficulty seeing this with Obituary.

Yet, perhaps this is the genius of Obituary. Perhaps, I am just missing the mark.

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