Album review: OBITUARY – Inked In Blood

Relapse Records – Out Now.

Thirty years in the music business is a very long time indeed and no musician/band can survive in such a ‘hostile environment’ without learning how to become flexible and accepting of new ideas.

Having suffered badly at the hands of Roadrunner Records at the early stages of their career, it is not at all surprising that Floridian Death Metal legends opted for the well-known Kickstarter Campaign in order to collect the funds needed to record their ninth studio album “Inked In Blood” – an album that will enjoy a world-wide distribution through the assistance of the Pennsylvania-based label Relapse Records.

It was a combination of John Tardy’s inimitable Death Metal growls and tons of groove-laden, Celtic Frost influenced riffs which enabled Obituary to enjoy a three-decade career in the first place – a winning formula that its creators wisely kept intact in their latest musical offering.

What really surprised me about “Inked In Blood” was that, although no signalling a massive departure from themes and practices of old, it is an album filled with positive energy and passion, the kind that, in retrospect, were missing from albums like “Xecutioner’s Return” (2007) and “Darkest Day” (2009).

Tardy’s trademark vocals are dominating but also fairly comprehensible, Trevor Peres’ leads short in duration but pretty complementary to the riffs and melodies on offer and as for the rhythm section of Donald Tardy/Terry Butler…this experienced duet is in total command of the pace and energy infused in the twelve compositions making listening to the album a very enjoyable experience indeed.

My addiction with the opening track “Centuries Of Lies” was immediate and complete, not at all surprising seeing as it sports an amazing mid tempo riff and a bombastic drum beat courtesy of Donald Tardy.

Quite basic in structure and featuring simple but highly enjoyable riffs, songs like “Violent By Nature”, “Visions In My Head” and “Back On Top” are classic Obituary tunes while sandwiched between them is “Pain Inside” – a four and a half minute ditto which starts life as a slow-paced composition but evolves into a musical beat of immense energy and passion.

While “Inked In Blood”, “Deny You” and “Within A Dying Breed” keep a healthy momentum going, it is the Thrash-sounding up-tempo ditto “Minds Of The World” and together with the thematically varied closing piece “Paralyzed By Fear” are the highlights of this very impressive album.

Proud owners of a successful creative musical formula and an easily identifiable style, Obituary are quite justifiably the last band in the world willing to take unnecessary risk in fear of alienating fans that have been loyal to them or the last thirty years.

It is that very stubbornness together with a surprising but much welcome surge of positive energy that makes “Inked In Blood” an attractive proposition to fans of good quality Death Metal and will guarantee the said album a prominent place in the band’s musical arsenal.

John Stefanis

Rating: **** (4.0/5.0)


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