Darkest Day

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Once upon a time, Obituary were one of the very few genuinely frightening metal bands. Vocalist John Tardy wasn't even forming words, for hell's sake; on the group's 1989 debut, Slowly We Rot, he just babbled and shrieked like the crazy guy nobody wants to sit beside on the bus. Meanwhile, the band ground out riffs that mixed the high-speed staccato assault of death metal with a swampy downtempo side that sounded like Black Sabbath sinking into soupy mud. Beginning with the 1990 album Cause of Death, their membership pretty much solidified around a core of Tardy and his drummer brother Donald, guitarist Trevor Peres, and bassist Frank Watkins. When Allen West joined on 1992's World Demise, they had the lineup they'd stick with until 2007's Xecutioner's Return, when Ralph Santolla (Deicide, Iced Earth) replaced West. On this, their third album since reuniting, the formula remains basically the same as it's always been: churning, brutal guitar riffs, lyrics about death and violence (yes, there are lyrics at this point), pummeling drums. Santolla's melodic guitar solos add some much-needed flair and style to the band's songs, and the result is a fierce album that demonstrates why Obituary remain a band to be reckoned with in death metal, even 20 years after their debut album.

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