Obituary – Dying Of Everything Review

In the years since their late 90s hiatus and early millennium reformation, Obituary has thoroughly established themselves as consistent, if not always consistently stellar. They’re the AC/DC of death metal in terms of both qualitative arc and dogged devotion to a specific set of stylistic parameters. Through five previous records in those nearly two decades, they’ve managed to recapture the sound of their classic run, although not always the spark. But then 2017’s self-titled effort felt like a new beginning, bringing in Kenny Andrews on lead guitar and with former Massacre bassist Terry Butler now firmly holding down the low end, and further culmination of that rebirth is here, five years later, in Dying Of Everything. Put succinctly, this is the best record these Floridians have made since their golden era, the four-album run that seems forever to define their career.

Release date: January 13, 2023. Label: Relapse .
All the pre-release chatter in the interviews I’ve read (mostly from the ever-affable Donald Tardy) leans toward everything falling into place organically for Dying Of Everything, written and recorded at the band’s home-base studio during the pandemic, and produced and mixed by longtime engineer Joe Cincotta. Though those sentiments are exactly the type of thing artists often say about their latest work, Dying Of Everything itself upholds Donald’s opinion. Maybe revisiting their earlier records in full for live recordings helped them tap back into something from the way back, or maybe just the downtime allowed a greater focus, or maybe Andrews’ additional contributions as a writer clicked in just the right way, or maybe all of the above: Dying Of Everything is a step above the self-titled, which was steps above those before it, and that means Obituary is moving upward.

The first indication of Dying’s power comes in Trevor Peres’ massive fuzz-wall guitar tone and in Donald’s sense of driving groove, those savage factors having long been Obituary’s musical calling cards. Both are on full display on the surging opening of “Barely Alive,” albeit only for a few seconds before they’re joined by the second indication of the album’s power: the eternally vomitous voice of John Tardy. John may be a few decades older than the kid who (in)famously growled his way through the early days with non-language noises — and yet, John circa 2022 certainly doesn’t sound like he’s lost any of that signature retch. He’s long been one of the best vocalists in death metal history, and Obituary’s most distinctive facet, and he remains both. Sonically, Dying Of Everything is stout, punchy. The Tardys have got their home studio dialed in: Cincotta’s mix is perfectly balanced; the guitars are huge and gnarly; the drums hit like cannons; John’s voice is intelligible, menacing, vicious, biting.

That opening track, “Barely Alive,” rips hard through most of its runtime, downshifting for some mid-song thrashing breakdowns and a partly harmonized, fleeting solo from Andrews. It’s a grand example of Obituary’s oft-unsung mastery of the uptempo, alongside the Celtic Frost / Hellhammer-indebted chunky midtempo that defines a significant part of their work. In that latter vein, first advance track “The Wrong Time” is a perfect encapsulation: a simple, but catchy main riff; an instant vocal hook; a groove so wide you could drive a truck through it. “The Wrong Time” is the perfect choice for first single: It’s almost so “Obituary” that it’s too “Obituary,” but dismissing it would be to deny the power of Obituary being Obituary. When a band doing what a band does results in a band doing this? It ain’t broke — so don’t fix it.

So Dying Of Everything comes out of the gate firing high, and it doesn’t let up, but it really hits its stride in mid-album, with the title track and yet another shifting array of perfect Peres riffage, and hammers that home with follow-up “My Will To Live,” which sports another riff that’s so distinctly Obituary that it’s almost too Obituary for its own good. (But again: Its own good, it turns out, is quite very damned good, so it, too, should not be — and damn near cannot be — denied.) Closing track “Be Warned” is effectively an Obituary-ian take on death / doom, trudging along beneath John’s tortured exhortations to “beware / and be warned,” one of those clever lyrical couplets and hooks he does surprisingly well for someone who once eschewed words at all.

Sitting here now, thirty years removed from being a wide-eyed kid diving into Cause Of Death in the way back days, Dying Of Everything is a comforting conversation with friends old and new, revisiting the past and remembering it fondly at the same time that you’re living in the now and the new. It captures the Obituary sound wonderfully, and it crackles with the same life that made those classics classic, that makes them still hold up today. It doesn’t break new ground – Obituary doesn’t do that anymore, really, and that’s not the point, anyway. The point is straight-up neckbreaking death metal, no frills and no wasted moments, and that’s what you get.

What else did you want?

Posted by Andrew Edmunds

Last Rites Co-Owner; Senior Editor; born in the cemetery, under the sign of the MOOOOOOON...

  1. This album has absolutely no business being this good and I would have completely ignored it (RIP Lewandowski) had it not been for this review. Thank you, cat.


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