Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Obituary - Dying of Everything (2023)

Dying of Everything might have received the most critical praise I've seen for an Obituary album in a very long LEAST since the first few back in the late 80s/90s when they were sort of a shocking novelty based on the roiling guitar tone and John Tardye's sickened vocal style. It seemed like I couldn't avoid year's end lists, blogs and videos without this being mentioned, and having just skimmed over it upon release, I was looking forward to going back to it and hearing what I might have missed. This has led me only to confusion, for while this album does fire off a few very exciting tracks, the rest are quite dull and predictable, business as usual for one of Florida's least progressed death metal acts, and I don't mean that as any sort of insult, some groups stick to what they know, and this is one of them.

Now, "Barely Alive", the opener, is quite explosive and really gave me hope for this album when I first came in contact. It's not super catchy riff-wise, but the energy and leads are certainly palpable and it's hard not to get infected with it. But just as quickly, you get "The Wrong Time", which has a cool intro followed up by a pretty boring rock-ish riff, with maybe one decent groove later on. And that's the formula for many of the tunes, there's one undeniable ferocious part and then a bunch of filler riffing to surround it. Not for the first time, and hell even the better riffing sequences here just sound like slight variations on many others they've already released. Again, that just comes with the territory, there's just not much nuance or ambition to any of the material. You get a few hints of it, like the drawn out backing growls, and the bolder and brighter production than on a lot of their albums, but structurally, while this ticks all the boxes and does hurl out a half dozen admirable riffs which spark all my nostalgia for their first two, beloved records, it's rarely something special.

Now, admittedly, that production IS sounds huge coming out the speakers, one of their better balanced mixes through the decades, grasping on where it can to modernity without losing the original plot, and the chugging, the lead guitars, the vocal and drums are all monstrous. There is certainly an audience for that alone, and I think that might be the main draw to this one, but anytime I'm really about to get into a track, they just spin off into some banal, uninventive material that doesn't impress me beyond the audio force alone. The Mariusz Lewandowski cover art does feel fresh for the band, and don't get me wrong, this record sends dreck like Darkest Day, The End Complete and Frozen in Time home on a stretcher, but I wouldn't mind hearing this same level of production used on material that's more evil, atmospheric, or even slightly dissonant and innovative within the riff choices themselves. It's a decent record, but like a lot of what they've put out, feels like jogging in place through the cemetery, where I'd rather they dug down a little deeper into the rot-choked soils, or broke into some of the sepulchers for some ideas.

Verdict: Win [7/10]

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