Obituary - _Xecutioner's Return_
(Candlelight Records, 2007)
by: Jackie Smit (
While any Obituary fan worth his or her salt will maintain that it's sheer folly to have expected the band to approach their comeback effort any differently than they ultimately did on _Frozen in Time_, claims that the record lacked a sense of adventure are certainly not without merit. In fact, it's oddly facetious that both its triumph and downfall should hinge so singularly on the Florida quintet's decision to stick to what they know and play it safe. For as much as it was able to satisfy fans bemoaning the demise of one of death metal's greats, the detractors weren't backward in coming forward either.Time will tell whether _Xecutioner's Return_ has a similar reception coming however, for here not only do we see a battle-hardened outfit deliver the goods with a disarming degree of impudence, but on all counts Obituary's seventh full-length rages like an out-of-control furnace to its predecessor's fire.Indeed, the band's reinvigorated sense of moxie manifests itself early on, as "Face Your God" and "Lasting Presence" announce their arrival with an uncharacteristically up-tempo charge. These turn out to be fitting appetizers for the main course of bone-jarring grooves pulsating through the likes of "Evil Ways" and "Drop Dead"; songs that not only sit comfortably alongside any classic off _Cause of Death_ or _Slowly We Rot_, but make ample use of the latest addition to the group's arsenal in Ralph Santolla. Indeed, it is Santolla's meticulously crafted guitar leads that capture the limelight on several occasions, and as he did for Deicide on _The Stench of Redemption_, he virtually ensures that every one of the album's eleven tracks scythes through the listener's consciousness and leaves an indelible scar.At its core, _Xecutioner's Return_ retains all the hallmarks of Obituary's most auspicious moments -- from the detuned, quicksand doom of "Contrast the Dead" to the not-so-sly nod to Celtic Frost on "Second Chance". Thus, it wouldn't be entirely fair to brand the album an exciting new chapter in the band's history; yet for all the buoyant ardour coursing through it, it unquestionably ranks amongst the most thrilling.[Aaron McKay: "With a strong sense of time and place for the release of _Xecutioner's Return_, Obituary slams down one of their finest offerings, certainly in recent past, like a gauntlet in some Dark Ages morning star duel to the death. They drive home the categorically undeniable benchmark of what raw and predatory death metal stands in support of."While all eleven tracks making up _Xecutioner's Return_ are definably direct and obligatory fierce, the purity and intimacy of their craft has developed to an all new echelon. "Seal Your Fate" demonstrates the unhinged speed and brilliantly "xecuted" solo reminiscent of early Obituary releases, whereas "Evil Ways" and the comprehensive "Contrast the Dead" punishingly crush out a groove of chuggingly sludginess of matchless proportions."Appropriately named, this album unquestionably harkens back to the original incarnation of Obituary once known as Xecutioner. _Xecutioner's Return_ gives the more recent crop of upstarts a crack at what true death metal is from these stalwart champions of the cause. Newbies, pucker-up, buttercups! Obit, excellent job, gentlemen!"]
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