Friday, 20 April 2012

OBITUARY - Cause Of Death (1990)

01. Infected
02. Body Bag
03. Chopped In Half
04. Circle Of The Tyrants
05. Dying
06. Find The Arise
07. Cause Of Death
09. Memories Remain
10. Turned Inside Out

'Cause of Death' is the second album by American death metal band Obituary, released on September 19th 1990 via Roadrunner Records. Founded as Xecutioner in Seffner, Florida during 1984, the band was composed of John Tardy (vocals), Allen West (lead guitar), Trevor Peres (guitar), Jerome Grable (bass) & Donald Tardy (drums). The band released demos in 1985 and 1986, then made their vinyl debut in 1987 with two tracks ("Find The Arise" & "Like The Dead") on the Raging Death compilation. Not long after its release, Grable was replaced with bassist Daniel Tucker. Shortly before the release their debut album 'Slowly We Rot' the following year, they changed their name to Obituary. 'Cause Of Death' is the first release with Frank Watkins on bass and the only album with guitarist James Murphy.

One of the outstanding qualities of 'Cause of Death' is the mix of simple riffs with furious lead guitar playing. Songs like "Chopped In Half" aren't exactly technical, yet they are so aggressive and brutal that it becomes of little concern to the listener. The opening track, "Infected" consists of about 4 chords used over and over, and just as it seems easily categorized as another simple death metal song, James Murphy delivers soaring leads behind a wall of artificial harmonics. Beneath the riffs what makes the songs even heavier are the amazing drums played by Donald Tardy. He doesn't utilize much blast-beats but rather lays down amazing beats and double-bass which contribute to the rhythm of the songs. If that wasn't enough, Obituary even manage to pay homage to Swiss titans Celtic Frost with a cover of the thrash standard "Circle of the Tyrants".

The unrivaled vocals of John Tardy still dominate the proceedings. He sounds like a man (or perhaps beast) in absolute agony. The drastic tempo changes still set Obituary apart from the majority of their peers of the time and producer Scott Burns still struggles with seemingly low-budget values that actually sound worse than they did on 'Slowly We Rot'.  To sum up though, 'Cause of Death' is a quintessential death metal classic surpassed in terms of influence perhaps only by the debut efforts of Death and Morbid Angel.

*The cover art was supposed to be the cover of Sepultura's album 'Beneath the Remains', but Roadrunner Records let Obituary use it first, even though 'Cause of Death' was released in 1990 and 'Beneath The Remains' was actually released in 1989. Sepultura chose another Michael Whelan illustration for their cover.

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