Obituary - Frozen In Time - Roadrunner Records 2005
Running Time: 34:20
You know those defining moments in your musical path? Well, my first experience with honest, bash-your-face-in death metal was a trilogy of videos on Headbanger's Ball (the original, thank you very much) that featured Entombed's 'Stranger Aeons', Slayer's 'War Ensemble', and 'The End Complete' by Obituary. Now, I'd obviously heard Slayer before, but the rumbling, bestial music of the other two bands held a ferocity that belied their slower pace. And those vocals...holy Hell, John Tardy's mixture of bile-heaving gore and general vocal insanity put most I'd heard before to shame. Musically, the tightness inherent in the sound was unbelievable, and the drums sounded for all the world like the heads were made of stretched tendon, so sharp was their snap during parts of the song. I was sold, converted, and dove into this "new" style of metal wholeheartedly.
And now, after an eight year break between studio albums, Obituary crawls back out of the Florida swamps to serve notice on the new crop of death bands content to focus more on lightning-speed solos and fashion than on the brutality of which this style was born. Beginning with the tongue title of 'Redneck Stomp', Frozen In Time could not be a more apt title for the album. Amid the down tuned earthquake-inducing riffs and the thunderous grumble of Donald Tardy's drums, it's truly like Obituary never left. I caught myself a few minutes in wondering where the vocals were, but I knew they'd show up in their own time. And show up they did. John's unmistakable snarl carves its way through 'On The Floor' like a rusted bone saw in a NYC butcher shop, leaving the jagged riff work of the Peres/West death machine intact all the way through the pulverizing 'Insane'. Bassist Frank Watkins is underrated among the death metal elite, his ability to lock into Tardy's martial rhythms being obvious, while still managing to give his work its own identity. Obituary sticks with the tried and true formula they've used ever since ever, preferring to bludgeon you with a musical baseball bat as opposed to poking at you now and again with a sharp stick, as does much of what passes for death metal these days. Accuse Obituary of using caveman-simple riffs, and of being one-dimensional all you like, but when the hammer down, four on the floor fury of 'Stand Alone' claws its way through your speakers, come talk to me, should you survive the beating. Of course, being who they are, this band just can't stay at 120mph for long. Worry not, because when they release the parachute brake about halfway through 'Stand Alone', it's only to stomp on what's left of your entrails until they feel like picking them up again and racing around the room, Tardy plastering the walls with more vocal blood-spatter than a CSI episode. I'd refer to the drum work at the beginning of 'Slow Death' as "tribal" were it not for the Soulfly connotation, so let's say it's less tribal in the South American way and more in the massive Viking war drum style. Grooves stick to this album like E colli bacteria on room temperature Canadian beef, Obituary peppering their death with spine-jarring stomp. At the end of the album, when the pit-inducing blast of 'Lockjaw' slides into overdrive, you can almost see the "Fuck, we did it again!" grins on the faces of the members of Obituary.
I could go on forever, but let's just end it this way. Obituary didn't "reunite" to cash in on its audience by releasing a sub-par product at best. Save that for the Death Angels of the world. Frozen In Time is the album that most death metal wants to grow up to be. And to think...they did it in just over thirty minutes.