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Obituary | Slowly We Rot Cause of Deat | review | metal | Lollipop


Slowly We Rot/Cause of Death (Roadrunner)
by Tim Den

Ah, the legendary myth that is Obituary... The deceptively simple-yet-catchy riffs, that trademark distortion sound, and - of course -- that inhuman growl... has it really been a decade since the band's heyday? No difference: The band's first two albums (reissued here on one disc) still sound as goose bump-inducing and eeriely haunting as the day they first massacred death metal fans worldwide. I dare say Slowly We Rot and Cause of Death sound more unique than ever amongst today's death-pushers: Pillars of steadfast gloom in a world of technicality and speed. Obituary pasted incongruous tempos and riffs together, drove them with improbably catchy rhythms similar to hip hop, and had an unparalled frontman... in other words, they were completely original. No other band has been able to create an aural mystique quite like Obituary, and none has been able to duplicate their charisma.

Right from the debut Slowly We Rot, the band cemented their own sound by buzzing through gorilla-fisted riffs and tortured howls. But it's the way the riffs were gripped with white-knuckled fists, the way John Tardy made dog barks sound like cries, that differentiated the band from the get-go. The combination leaves you with something more than just a death metal experience, it shakes your soul with an abysmal pain, an unexplainable pessimism no words - only the crushing grooves of the songs - can express. By the time Cause of Death came along and all but throned the Tampa quintet as leaders of the genre, the formula had been perfected: Subterranean power chords atop impregnable drumming, plowing through one riff after another like a meat train straight to hell. No need for streamlining, the listener's already too hypnotized by the succession of catchy brutality to notice the often stop-and-go nature of the arrangements. Obituary's songs never needed to make excuses for their erratic sequence of events, they simply worked whether or not they made sense.

And though the band would fix that last problem on their finest hour, '94's World Demise, their first two records are what fans remember them most by. Perhaps it's because of the way these records surpassed everything else at the time, both in terms of heaviness and originality, but Slowly We Rot and Cause of Death remain testaments to one of death metal's most revered bands for good reason.
(902 Broadway New York, NY 10010)

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