Chopped In Half
Although Obituary weren't the first death metal band is seems that any band that can survive in a sub genre for over two decades will have their status changed from influential to genre defining. Let's not forget that when Obituary released their debut album, 'Slowly We Rot,' in 1989, there was the tail end of NWOBHM, glam metal and the beast that was thrash metal. For a band to sound this heavy in 1989 was rare and in that respect, any band surviving from the birth of a sub-genre to present day has to command respect. Although the band released their 7th album in 2007, 'Xecutioner's Return', RoadRunner records have plundered their early works (including a track from 2005's Frozen In Time) to bring us the aptly titled 'Best of Obituary'.
Formed in Tampa, Florida, Obituary were slightly different to bands such as Death, Possessed and Venom due to vocalist John Tardy's deep growl that differed from the usual shrill and shriek. Signed by RoadRunner, who weren't the tour-de-force they are now, along with Sepultura, the band leaned towards mid temp and slow grinding thrash rather than blistering pace, even though this does make a regular appearance. However the band, being excellent musicians, were able to bring an eclectic mix to their music, able to mix up tempos and rhythms which was also uncommon back in the day.
The problem with early death metal is, although revolutionary, the money wasn't available for band to spend on recording. In an age of reel to reel and sticking a microphone in front of an amp and spending an evening with the E.Q knobs to get a decent tone, underground bands generally had to suffer muddy and poorly mixed production. The first two thirds of the disc certainly experiences these problems. The guitars are tinny and are at odds with the over reverberated drums, whereas the vocals are all over the music like a bad rash. Having said that, the ear does eventually get used to the old recordings allowing you to appreciate the classic tunes such as 'Slowly We Rot,' 'Final Thoughts' and the brilliant 'Chopped In Half''.
Like with all 'Best of…' albums, they'll never choose the actual 'best' collection of songs, instead going with the most well known and token tracks from all the albums. Obituary fans will no doubt argue over the track listing, but to the young death metal fan wanting to dwell within its beginnings then this album could be the place the start, if only because of the generous price tag of £8.99.