Frozen In Time
It's like they never left
If there ever was an album title that fit, none would be more perfect than Obituary's latest, Frozen In Time. It's been eight years since their last studio effort - the somewhat lacking (compared to their earlier classics) Back From The Dead. When Obituary (who originally began out as Xecutioner before being forced to change their name) released Slowly We Rot in 1989, they instantly became one of the most original and influential death metal bands ever to grace the scene. Following it up with the brilliant Cause Of Death in 1990 and 1992's The End Complete, vocalist John Tardy, guitarists Allen West (who returned to replace James Murphy who had played on Cause Of Death) and Trevor Peres, bassist Frank Watkins and drummer Don Tardy continued in a style that is still unmatched in uniqueness to this day. World Demise was mostly strong but Back From The Dead seemed a little tired without mentioning the track Bullituary which was very much out of place in the eyes of fans.
With a title like Redneck Stomp, it's hard to guess what Obituary were really thinking but rest assured this instrumental opening track is trademark Obituary sans John Tardy's throat work. Again teaming up with long time producing partner, Scott Burns at Morrisound Studios, the trademark Obituary sound is brought to life once more with this album and there's much comfort in that as well. No Obituary album is truly an Obituary album until the painful howls of John 'Rotting Ways' Tardy are unleashed with On The Floor which begins somewhat similarly to Words Of Evil (from their debut, Slowly We Rot). Insane features a double kick driven assault that continues in true Obituary style a-la Cause Of Death and The End Complete eras whilst Blindsided and Back Inside are more along the lines of their later material.
Mindset crawls along at a slow pace along the lines of much of the Cause Of Death album. Stand Alone fuses elements of Celtic Frost (no surprise there given their Circle Of The Tyrants cover on Cause Of Death) as well as classic Obituary time changes and grinding riffs. Slow Death and Denied are the vehicles that highlight Donald Tardy's skills behind the kit as they're chock full of drum fills backed with doom laden riffs and chord progressions that will send fans into a frenzied head banging flurry. The final track, Lockjaw, fades into its long winded intro taking over a minute and a half before John Tardy's unique vocals kick in and the track notches up a cog and it fades out as subtly as it began.
There's little doubt upon hearing Frozen In Time that one of death metal's defining bands are back. While there are a couple of surprises in store such as a delay effect around some of John Tardy's vocal work and what seems to be more concise pronunciation of the lyrics making them understandable for the most part, it's very much business as usual for this Florida (U.S.A.) based quintet. By Obituary standards, Frozen In Time is a good album but not as great as their earliest work. Having said that, there's little doubt they are a unique act in the genre and Frozen In Time can stand proudly amongst modern death metal releases.
(Roadrunner Records/Universal Distribution)