Obituary - _Darkest Day_
(Candlelight Records, 2009)
by: Jackie Smit (
You really can't argue with the fact that Ralph Santolla is due a major slice of the credit for the second wind powering Obituary's current career resurgence. Much as he did on the last two Deicide discs, the six-stringer's ability to conjure up a seemingly endless slew of fleet-fingered leads with a thoroughly inventive flair has turned good songs into songs you want to listen to until your ears bleed. With Obituary his Midas touch appears to stretch even further. While I'd certainly not want to denigrate the efforts of Trevor Peres or Frank Watkins, recent riffs out of the Obituary camp have shown off more than a few subtle tints of the classic rock and heavy metal which has influenced Santolla's previous work, and it was these tweaks to a well established formula that made 2007's _Xecutioner's Return_ so thoroughly enjoyable.Across its first six tracks, _Darkest Day_ appears to be on a par with its predecessor. "List of Dead" is a sensational opener, its aggression pronounced tenfold thanks to some obscenely effective drumming courtesy of Donald Tardy. "Blood to Give" is Obituary doing a surprisingly successful impersonation of Black Sabbath, the disc's sometimes absurdly sludgy production giving the song's driving riffage additional bite. "Outside My Head" follows suit, its grinding pace proving once again that death metal can be devastating without the need to resort to constant blasting. But it's the gripping title track that will really make you sit up and take notice. Doom-laden and as deliberately measured in its build-up as it is generous in its pay-off, it boasts as much atmosphere and bad intentions as any of the Florida quartet's most timeless classics. After such an impressive start, only few would be able to keep the momentum going, and unfortunately Obituary show increasing signs of treading water as the clock ticks on. They don't quite end up in the same creative quagmire as they did on _World Demise_, but I can certainly not see many punters crying out for a rendition of "See Me Now" -- a patchwork quilt of past Obituary songs at best -- when the band hit the road later this year. It's only on the stunning closer, "Truth Be Told", that the lads find their form in such spectacular fashion that you could almost forgive the relatively non-descript twenty minutes that preceded it. Besides, for many Obituary fans a greater than fifty percent hit rate on any given album equals an instant classic. If you're among that group, then trust me -- the wait has been worth it.
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