Clocking in at a taut nine songs in 39 minutes without a second of filler, The End Complete may be the definitive Obituary album. The band's third, it marks the return of lead guitarist Allen West and it also marks an impressive leap forward in production. The songwriting and playing on Obituary's past albums had been commendable, and The End Complete is no exception in that regard. Rather, it's the return of West and the remarkable production job by Scott Burns that sets this album apart from its predecessors. The return of West is important not only because his solos are one of the band's trademarks but also because he's an integral songwriter, here co-penning four of the nine songs. Burns' crystal-clear, in-your-face production is not to be underestimated, either. If anything had marred Obituary's past two albums, both of them otherwise excellent, it was the murkiness of the sound, especially the drums. That's not an issue here at all, however, as Obituary have never sounded this great. The guitar tones especially are downright vivid, particularly when West and rhythm guitarist Trevor Peres depart from one another such as during the solos (the title track is a great showcase for this, and so is "Rotting Ways"). You can practically feel the respective guitar tones buzzing through your head, they're so well recorded. And so are John Tardy's vocals, which are sometimes overdubbed to make them all the more potent and nuanced. They're so well recorded, in fact, you can actually understand some of the lyrics! Overall, there really isn't anything to complain about here. Sure, nine songs in a brisk 39 minutes might not be enough for those who can't get enough of Obituary's textbook style of death metal, but this is such a powerful album that even seasoned metalheads can get exhausted quickly. And besides, Obituary may be one of death metal's greatest bands ever, granted, but they're generally not the most varied or experimental. So too many more songs or too much more music, and the proceedings could begin to get increasingly monotonous, a problem that has plagued innumerable death metal albums over the years. But that's not an issue here, thankfully; the primary issue instead seems to be just how Obituary could top an album such as The End Complete. Its two predecessors, Slowly We Rot and Cause of Death, had been near perfect and were quickly deemed classics of the early death metal era. But here the band has done itself one better, bringing West back into the fold and getting a better production job from Burns, and the result is arguably the definitive Obituary album and, consequently, a prototypical death metal album. It don't get much better than this, folks.
AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier