Classic death metal titans Obituary go on and on and on and on

Obituary has endured thanks to a classic formula of simple, family made death metal. Death produced amazing records, but was firmly in the technical death metal camp by their third album. Carcass and Cannibal Corpse have gore; Deicide has Satan. Possessed actually invented the genre but only stuck around for two full-lengths. All are great, but Obituary is definitive old-school death metal, sticking with cacophonous guitar tones, whip fast integrations of ‘80s thrash and lumbering sludge, and gurgling howls juxtaposed by piercing screams. Throughout their 30-year history (26 if you don’t count the time they spent as Xecutioner, 20 if you consider the hiatus) they’ve recorded nine albums and played host to 14 members. They are, all told, a huge fucking deal, and their fans love them for it.

It was those fans who Kickstarted the band’s forthcoming ninth studio album Inked in Blood, funding the entire project in less than 24 hours and going six times over the band’s $10,000 goal. At $20,000, those fans got videos of a live set recorded over three days at the indomitable Morrisound Recording (another family institution) in Florida, the centerpiece of the regional phenomenon. At $35,000, Obituary put out a making-of for the album that didn’t even have a title. The total kept on rising until topping out at an eye popping $60,000. Take that, Orgy!

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Review: 2:54 – The Other I

It’s never good to point out the single element that ruins an otherwise good record, and it’s even less fun to point out that this element is the vocals and lyrics. Guitarists just have to have their fingers in the right places at the right times, drummers just have to hit things, but lyricists have to look at life and say something interesting and original about it. That’s hard, but people do it every day. On The Other I, London-based sisters Hannah and Colette Thurlow don’t, despite being able to coax some beautiful sounds from guitars and bass.

Collette’s vocal delivery recalls her home country’s trip-hop genre, not exactly somewhere to find exceptional vocalists aside from Portishead’s Beth Gibbons, who could sing the “Chicken Tonight” jingle and still make you cry. The lyrics are just … lyrics. When Garage Band gets sophisticated enough to write words to go with auto-generated music, they’ll sound something like 2:54.

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Scott Walker + Sunn O))) – Soused

This was never going to be easy. Two cowl-wearing experimentalists from the farthest reaches of metal, one former member of a sunshine pop quartet that was once bigger than the Beatles who has spent the past 30 years making some very difficult music.

Though the combination of venerable singer-songwriter and metal titans may at first recall Metallica and Lou Reed’s abysmal Lulu, this is a record of startling imagination that sees everybody involved pushing themselves far from their comfort zones, which were hardly comfortable to begin with. I won’t even try to describe it: there is literally no other record that sounds like Soused, not even the heavier moments of Walker’s Drift or the contemporary-classical passages on Sunn 0)))’s Monoliths & Dimensions. Not even those two records, masterpieces on their own, somehow spliced together.

It is fitting that the cover of Soused depicts a thermal vent in the deep ocean. These boiling, toxic environments are fertile and in many ways beautiful, but completely inhospitable. You can marvel that such things exist, but you’ll never visit one. The album itself is much the same. A single playthrough will confirm that two artistic powerhouses have come together to make something greater than the sum of their parts, something that is Art with a capital ‘A,’ but will you want to play it again? I doubt it. This is very much a record to own to position oneself as a patron of Serious (with a capital ‘S’) music. This isn’t to diminish the artists’ achievement, just to pose the question: why?

 

 

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Review: Davila 666 – Pocos Anos, Muchos Danos

The only thing wrong with this album is its timing. I needed this in June, when it was finally warm enough to be on the veranda at Julio’s with a Bulldog (a Corona immersed in a margarita, if you haven’t had the pleasure.) The Puerto Rican seven-piece is pure sunshine, but the kind of sunshine that helps you to start drinking at noon.

They cite the Stooges as an influence, but Iggy and his boys were defined by an ugliness and darkness that’s absent here. The Stooges plus pop hooks isn’t The Stooges, and that’s OK, because the results here are beautiful. There’s a fuzz over it all that you won’t have heard since early Elephant Six recordings, and there’s a sense of fun that’s palpable. Their cover of Blondie’s “Hanging on the Telephone” is pure joy. Pure, unrefined joy that’ll have you wanting to learn Spanish so that you can sing along.

It’s a shame that despite support slots with the Black Keys and King Khan BBQ Show, Davila 666 won’t gain the recognition that they deserve outside of their own country. The Anglosphere has proven remarkably resistant to anybody not singing in English (Phoenix had to ditch French before they could break through.) Don’t be one of those people. You’ve made it to the end of a short review of a Spanish-speaking band, and with a quick Internet search, it’d be easy to just look up one of their live shows on YouTube or listen to an album on Spotify. Listen to it with the heat turned all the way up.