Obituary – Inked in Blood (Album Review)

Ester Segarra

After five years, American death metal titans Obituary are back on top with the release of their new album Inked in Blood. The ninth in a long, brutal line of studio albums dating back to 1989’s Slowly We Rot, Inked in Blood denotes a new incarnation of the band, as long time bassist Frank Watkins does not appear. Instead the bottom is provided by former Six Feet Under member Terry Butler. Also entering the studio for the first time with Obituary is guitarist Kenny Andrews. Although new to the recorded band, Andrews has been sharing the stage with Obituary since 2010, officially joining them in 2012.  Put them together with founding brothers John Tardy (vocals) and Donald Tardy (drums), as well as guitarist Trevor Peres, and fans have a force of nature to reckon with on Inked in Blood.  

The album continues its divergence with the fact that it was funded by over nine hundred fans in less than twenty four hours through Kickstarter, and distributed by Relapse Records. A new tact that has paid off after a long partnership with Roadrunner and Candlelight Records.  In addition to an offering that is heavy, varied in its attack and calculating in its aggression, the fans get various “prizes” for their participation in the crowd funded project. Because they blew past their target with ease the band decided to reward fans with a behind-the-scenes trip to the studio to see the process of recording the new album.

Coming at the audience from many different angles, “Centuries of Lies” is first and emerges from dead center with a killer death/thrash vibe, bringing to my mind the work of  a band like Nuclear Assault.  This track in no way sets the tone for the rest of the record though, because there are many twists and turns to come. Featuring some pinpoint double kick work by Donald, “Violent by Nature” grabs the listener by the throat and lifts them off of their feet while “Pain Inside” sneaks up behind them and drags them down to the ground, and then below it. “Visions in my Head” stands out as a tight, compact, powerful pit churner, with a bit of everything.  Butler compliments Don Tardy’s rock solid drumming sound with a tight, precise, and driving bass performance. “Back on Top” and “Violence” are filled with some blistering guitar leads by Edwards.  Meanwhile, the title track “Inked in Blood” features John at his guttural best, as if releasing something malevolent yet vital through his growls and screams. “Deny You,” and  “Within a Dying Breed” bring things back to thuddingly heavy, commanding fans’ heads to bang, slow, steadily, and deliberately. The foundation of Obituary is showcased here as Perez, Butler and Donald Tardy drive anchors deep into the bedrock. Closing out Inked in Blood with acceleration is “Minds of the World”, and levels out with “Out of Blood” and “Paralyzed.”

Overall, Inked in Blood is full of passion, aggression, experience and a sense of secession that only comes from a project created by the artist for the fans, themselves.  While brutal as ever, there are plenty of textures involved as well.  Obituary show they certainly have not lost a step in the long layovers between records, making Inked in Blood a winner.  CrypticRock gives this album 4 out of 5 stars.

Relapse Records

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