Album: Blood Oath
Release Date: July 14, 2009
Album: Darkest Day
Release Date: June 30, 2009
Genre(s): Death metal, brutal death
Two kickass old-school death metal bands, back with all-new albums. Two questions: do these bands still rip? And which album is more brutal?
If you want to talk brutal, that's the very best word you could use to describe Blood Oath. Holy crap, the vocals on this album own. Frank Mullen has a killer growl, and it's all natural. The drums are fast and lay the groundwork for some hard-hitting guitarwork. The force behind the riffs can be wondrous to behold at times. The solos, however, leave something to be desired. Thankfully, the band doesn't make that the focus of their music, so it can't be counted as too much of a flaw. It's straight-up, no-frills death metal. Easy to listen to, memorable, and very enjoyable.
There's not much to say about Blood Oath; it's well-done all-around. Production, instruments, songwriting: all are impressive. If you have any taste for death metal, buy this album, you'll love it. Anyone who went to Summer Slaughter this year heard Suffocation make an insufferably long speech about being a band for 20 years. For longtime Suffocation fans, this is the band's gift to you for sticking with them for so long. Congratulations to Suffocation, they have put out another death metal must-have, likely to go down as one of 2009's best.
Track to Check: "Provoking the Disturbed"
Oh yeah, Obituary is kicking ass, as usual. Here, you'll find the same monstrous John Tardy vocals you fell in love with the first time you blasted "Don't Care" at home on your old stereo. The speed fluctuates between Obituary's trademark slow groove and speedy riffs. Either way it's punishing. The guitarwork isn't all rehashed, though. Ralph Santolla, the recent replacement for longtime member Allen West throws down some sick solos on top of the driving licks. It shakes things up without deviating too much from the Obituary formula. The band knows what works for them, and sticks with it throughout.
It's good to see that Obituary's not concerned with melody or technicality, for that is not what Obituary's about. Obituary's all about walking own the street, turning the headphones up to max volume, and smile snidely as the badass feeling comes over you. I'm a huge Obituary fan, and I can't resist the appeal of thirteen brutal new tracks from them. Obituary's been steadily on track since they reunited in 2003, but Darkest Day is their most focused post-reunion effort yet, and delivers all the goods that Obituary fans should expect.
Track to Check: "List of Dead"
Rating: an unbiased score would be 7.8, but based on my personal preference for Obituary, I'd give it an 8.8/10.
Both albums offer little in the way of originality, but both serve to show us something more important: how each band has established themselves as masters of the death metal genre. Still going strong after 20 years, Obituary and Suffocation have provided us with more reasons to love them; both albums are essentials for death fans. Blood Oath is a more balanced and more accessible album for death metal fans of all sorts, while Darkest Day is geared more towards Obituary diehards, but guaranteed to give that group of metaheads an extreme thrill. Take your pick. The best choice for any true metalhead, of course, is to get both.
Choosing death again!