Obituary - Xecutioner's Return

Florida’s Obituary, along with other legendary acts like Death, Deicide and Morbid Angel were protagonists in the creation of Death Metal and influenced a ton of youngster bands with their mid-tempo, super-catchy, Celtic Frost-inspired riffs. Classics such as “Slowly we Rot” and “Cause of Death”, are still cherished as two of the best Death-Metal records ever released and no matter how much relevance the genre have lost throughout the years, Obituary has always stick to their guns and stayed true to their DM roots.
Indeed, despite the innumerous troubles encountered through their nearly 20th-year spanning career, Florida’s veterans have reached its seventh full-length mark with the novelty “Xecutioner’s Return”, an album that marks the addition of ex-Deicide guitarist Ralph Santolla as replacement for the incarcerated Allen West and clearly shows the band streamlined to Old-School basics. The album, whose title suggests a move in such direction (Obituary started out as Xecutioner in late 80’s), does features some interesting ideas like the leading, fast-paced track “Face Your God”, the easily-memorable and punchy “Evil Ways” and “Bloodshot”, but there’s no “Chopped In Half”, no “Turned Inside Out” and no “Final Thoughts” to be found and as a whole can be described as a minor disappointment. The biggest problem of “Xecutioner’s Return” lies in its old-school production work, whether intentionally or due to budget’s cutback, it renders these eleven songs a bit lifeless and sharp-less. A septuagenarian Scott Burns on his wheelchair and ear-hearing device would still be capable of giving the strength and edginess needed to Obituary’s sound. Another aspect that doesn’t gel too well with Obituary’s music is Santolla’s soloing, although he’s far more virtuoso than Allen West, his Classical Metal inspired fretwork cannot match West’s creepy guitar screams (a feat only achieved by James Murphy) and sound a bit dislocated from the rest of the music on some occasions.
A band that has been holding the torch of Death-Metal for so long is capable of doing much more, I believe. (6/10)

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