Obituary Xecutioner's Return

Obituary Xecutioner's Return
Florida death metal godfathers Obituary have produced one of their finest albums yet, though it’s come at a price: the departure of founding guitarist Allen West. The arrival of scene vet Ralph Santolla (Deicide, Iced Earth, Death), however, gives Xecutioner’s Return its categorical sabre’s edge. John Tardy’s vocals are incalculably guttural, brother Donald’s drums are cavernous and Santolla’s guitar leads and solos are supremely searing. "Face Your God” and "Feel the Pain” have characteristic heft like The End Complete but the Cause of Death-like crawl of the monstrous "Contrast the Dead” (with Santolla’s jaw-dropping flourish at the end) is honestly a new anthem for the band. "Evil Ways” (and "Bloodshot” later) is a brilliant spotlight for Santolla — not only does he eke out dive-bombing low notes, à la Allen West, but he also fingers his flashy chromatics as if wrenching the title of "the Eddie Van Halen of metal” from Morbid Angel’s Trey Azagthoth. The old-school production even hearkens back to the glory days of legendary knob-twiddler Scott Burns. Graced with fittingly malevolent cover art, Xecutioner’s Return beckons the Obituary fanatics back to the grave. (Candlelight)