15 June 2009
by Hugh Platt
So here we are: a new record from Obituary. The Floridians have reached that stage in their career where no-one really needs a new album from them. Their first decade was one of innovation, inspiration and full-on skull-fucking death growl rage, but as they approach their twentieth year as an active concern, Obituary are sounding more than ever like a band not just settled into their own ways, but cemented into them.
Darkest Day isn’t actively bad, but it never pushes itself beyond meeting the minimum possible standards of death metal convention. John Tardy’s rumbling gruffness remains passable. Ralph Santolla and Trevor Peres’ guitars chug along with the bland predictability of the music beds of a million substandard metal radio shows. Most shocking of all though is Donald Tardy’s drumwork. Devoid of the flair we know he is capable of, his stickwork feels leaden and – dare we say it? – forgettable and generic.
Unlike Napalm Death, whose Time Wait For No Slave album has the flesh-rending efficiency of a fist made entirely of barbed wire, Darkest Day just scratches and paws at you, never seeming to get any real traction in your skin. This album leaves you feeling like a cat has been sitting on your lap and absent-mindedly been scratching you through the legs of your jeans for an hour, when it should have felt like being mauled by a feral ocelot that’s just had its nuts slammed in the phonebook.
Watch the video to ‘Evil Ways’ by Obituary
It’s not even clear who this album is for – it certainly wouldn’t be the starting point Thrash Hits would recommend for someone just getting into Floridian death metal. Any long-term Obituary fans that buy it will experience the death-metal equivalent of a nice cup of tea and a pair of comfy slippers – and why would we want to recommend that, when there’s so much better extreme music being produced right now? Pass the fucking digestives.
Sounds like: The disappointing onset of middle-age.
Top track: List of Dead
Obituary – Darkest Day tracklisting
List of Dead
Blood to Give
Outside My Head
Your Darkest Day
See Me Now
Fields of Pain
Truth Be Told