Obituary - Xecutioners Return
Death Metal
11 songs (40'38")
Release year: 2007
Obituary, Candlelight
Reviewed by Alex
Major event

I don’t think I have a single Major Event album review to my credit in more than five years writing for MetalReviews. For one, I got myself neatly cornered into the extreme metal niche, and it is sometimes illogical to rhyme underground and Major Event. Additionally, and more on the personal note, whenever a release qualifies for the category, you want to give it your best listening shot, almost being overwhelmed by responsibility. It takes time not to get overexcited by simply becoming an eager fan and the opportunity to write a timely one is lost. By then y’all have already perused the music and are discussing it on the boards. Next, what’s the point? Would anything I say matter? And so the album goes by. Hereby I wanted to buck the trend and announce it one more time, as if you haven’t heard it. Death metal legends Obituary are back with Xecutioner’s Return! (And if you haven’t heard, then why in the hell are you still reading this drivel?)

I will skip the history lesson about Obituary for the reason outlined in parentheses above. It seems, however, that Tampa veterans strongly believe that they have truly returned with this album. I guess Frozen in Time was merely a stopover on the road to comeback, given that Xecutioner’s Return reaches all the way back to the band’s prehistoric name. And as if following the tow, the music itself breathes old school, almost archaic death metal feel of Florida’s early scene days with a quick nod into Celtic Frost direction.

The album combines faster tracks, groovily propelled along by riffs based on the enthusiastic tandem playing of Trevor Peres (guitars) and Frank Watkins (bass), and slower crushingly heavy doomier songs. Trevor has always stated that the band “wanted to play heavy shit”, and Xecutioner’s Return is no frills heavy, regardless of the tempo. The faster tunes, leading off the album, give good reason to headbang, not headnod, recklessly. Evil Ways, deserving the status of a single, reach the ever so wishful level of completeness in its horns-up throbbing quality. Engaging, although chewed up somewhat with garage style production, Lasting Presence, Evil Ways and Seal Your Fate, benefit very much with John Tardy’s vocals becoming very audible and enunciated despite the sore throat dry low register cackle.

“The shit” gets even heavier when tempo slows down. Second Chance is Southern tinged proto metal, Contrast the Dead makes it a point to drag thy ears and feelings through the doom bottom, In Your Head finishing off with booming ominous toll. Slower tracks also tend to gravitate towards the album’s end, and are a bit longer, but take just the right amount of time to develop.

Guest lead guitarist Ralph Santolla (ex-Deicide, ex-Iced Earth) needs to be made an offer to become a permanent Obituary member on the spot. His leads periodically revitalize Xecutioner’s Return just about when things are to fall in the rut. Definitely playing from the heart, the man pulls off harmonic (Drop Dead), longing and desperate (In Your Head), playful (Face Your God) and bluesy (Contrast the Dead) equally well. It remains to be seen what happens with Ralph after long-time member Allen West finishes off his prison term next year.

Not wanting a big-time producer to tinker with this so important to them effort, the band self-produced the album in John Tardy’s garage. This removed the time hassle, of course, but left Obituary without a professional touch. Not enough treble, drums lacking punch, in my modest opinion, would have made for a better sound. Yet, often heard here reverberating throb rules, making for an album signature of sorts.

If you were a fan, you weren’t obviously waiting for this journalistic jewel to appear. For those of you still hesitating, while not the best Obituary ever, Xecutioner’s Return is certainly a laudable comeback, and by far the best album the band has done in the last, oh, 15 years or so.

Killing Songs :
Evil Ways, Drop Dead, Bloodshot, Contrast the Dead, In Your Head
Alex quoted 84 / 100
Other albums by Obituary that we have reviewed:
Obituary - Obituary reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Obituary - Inked in Blood reviewed by Jared and quoted 79 / 100
Obituary - Slowly We Rot reviewed by Charles and quoted CLASSIC
Obituary - The End Complete reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
Obituary - Darkest Day reviewed by James and quoted 85 / 100
To see all 9 reviews click here
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