Published Oct 28, 2014Other than a brief flirtation with industrial rhythms on 1994's World Demise, Florida death-metal mainstays Obituary have stayed the course of pure, head-down death metal to the ecstasy of dyed-in-the-wool fans — and to the fist-shaking of critics for a lack of innovation. Released five years after 2009's Darkest Day album on Candlelight, Inked in Blood began as a crowd-funded self-release until Relapse signed the band in June. Skin-searing leads from new guitarist Kenny Andrews sound more like Allen West's classic riffage than Ralph Santolla's did on the previous two albums. "Centuries of Lies," "Visions in My Head," "Violent by Nature" and the title track sound like reanimated outtakes from The End Complete or Cause of Death sessions.
Andrews stretches out on "Violence" to add needed variety at the bridge, and the monolithic "Deny You" resembles a death metal AC/DC. Drum dynamo Donald Tardy cranks up his kick drum tempo to 11 and ends with an echoing floor-tom outro on "Within a Dying Breed" before proceeding at hardcore speed through "Minds of the World." Main throat John Tardy's gurgling vocals sound as strong as ever, and he even peppers his performance with more short, Tom Warrior-esque grunts than usual. But the question remains: Do Obituary refuse to change their sound, or are they incapable of change? Regardless, the band's obstinacy results in the uber-consistent Inked in Blood with one foot planted firmly in the grave. (Relapse)