Album Reviews

Obituary – Frozen In Time

(tom day) UK release date: 18 July 2005

Currently, there is a trend for old heavy metal outfits to dust off their instruments and return to the stage in order to better finance their retirement funds. Enter Obituary to join a host of other bands (Death Angel, Celtic Frost etc.) who are making ‘comeback’ albums in a quest to relive their glory days (or put the kids through college?!)

Frozen In Time is an abominably clich�d but nonetheless apt title for the return of death Mmetal braves Obituary. Slipping this disc into your stereo will teleport you instantly to the dawn of the 1990s when spandex and long hair were very much still mandatory, ‘very metal’ accessories as the scene was emerging from the dark, dark ages that were the ’80s.

Owing their reformation exclusively to MTV icon Andrew WK who kept Obituary’s sticksman off the benefit line following the band’s original demise, the band reunited briefly for some guest slots on Andrew’s tour, and enjoyed the experience so much… blah, blah, blah (insert your fairytale ending here).

Crashing back into action after a seven year hiatus, Redneck Stomp is a brutal barrage of metal that sludges its way through three-and-a-half-minute track after track of doom-laden riffage in promisingly violent fashion.

On The Floor and Back Inside ring out like true Slayer tributes, with Donald Tardy’s relentless snare battering becoming somewhat monotonous fairly quickly. Thankfully his technique over the rest of the album is still impressive, particularly when one considers the speed and aggression with which the band play and the ridiculous number of tempo changes they drop in, seemingly just because they can – as finale Lockjaw testifies.

Having taken the same approach as the majority of formative thrash bands, production was perhaps Obituary’s greatest fault on previous efforts, holding back their greatest moments on albums like Slowly We Rot in the class of good rather than classic material.

Sludgy doom riffs that echo early Sepultura pervade their way throughout Insane and Stand Alone with a brief homage to Megadeth slyly inserted in the latter for good measure, before Allen West shows you just how fast he can abuse his fretboard with a nightmare-inducing solo that wouldn’t be out of place in a Wes Craven epic.

So is Frozen In Time as a return to form from the “crushing titans of thrash”? Well, yes they can churn out chunky riffs till the cows get home and fall asleep with total boredom, but the niggling reality is that overall, this is not actually that good a record. Granted the musicianship can almost take your breath away at points; there are some good drum fills, some awesome guitar licks and John Tardy’s shouting is amusing for a couple of songs, but after a few highly hyped comeback tour dates and some limited edition merchandise has been sold, it will be far less than surprising to read of Obituary’s swift return into relative obscurity.

As hard as it is to imagine hordes of Obituary fans anxiously awaiting the Floridian quartet’s return with bated breath, those who took an interest in the band first time around will no doubt be in for a predictable, repetitive but still palatable treat.

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Obituary – Frozen In Time