Among the bands that helped create and define death metal, Florida’s Obituary stands alongside Death, Morbid Angel and Cannibal Corpse as legendary pioneers of the genre. The simple, raw brutality of the band’s early sound on albums like Slowly We Rot and Cause of Death has been refined over the years, but the basic attitude and intent remains as visceral as ever. Founded in 1984 by brothers John Tardy (vocals) and Donald Tardy (drums), and guitarist Trevor Peres, Obituary has maintained its relevance while many of their death metal brethren have fallen by the wayside. On March 17, the band will release its self-titled, tenth studio album. It is the second Obituary album to include bassist Terry Butler (Massacre, Death, Six Feet Under) and lead guitarist Kenny Andrews. On President’s Day, Metalholic caught up with John Tardy to chat about the new record, and take a look back at the 25th anniversary of the band’s third album, The End Complete.
Over three decades and 10 albums into your career, Obituary self-titled its new record. Is there some significance there?
“Not really [laughs]. We are certainly a band that does not over think and over talk things too much. It was more or less a combination of reasons. Number one is we love the artwork. It’s a take on an older logo in that pewter form and that metal form with the face in it. We just love the look of that logo on a black album by itself. A lot of bands, sooner or later you’ll have to take a mulligan I guess and not try to come up with a title for an album, so we thought we’d just pull a mulligan there and get away without having a title at all.”
Tenth album, it seems to make sense.
“I didn’t really realize it until I started doing interviews and people were like, ‘Hey, this is your tenth album.’ I’m like, really? It didn’t dawn on me at the time, but it just feels fitting now that it’s all said and done. The last album was a little extreme for us, even as heavy as we are; that album was a little graphic and more extreme, with Inked in Blood and the whole title… So this is a step back into a more Obituary type style, classic death metal album cover. It just feels good.”
Not surprisingly, the new album is fast, angry, and aggressive, but it’s also got a surprisingly good amount of melody and groove. Tell us about the album from your perspective.
“I think that’s always a good thing to have. What makes Obituary Obituary to me is, we do fast stuff, we do slow stuff, but it’s that mid-tempo, groovy stuff that really defines and makes Obituary Obituary. It also seems, sometimes the older you get, sometimes we find the more simple a rhythm comes out, and the more basic it can be, the heavier it winds up sounding. A lot of times we’re just kind of cavemen–we like the simple approach to things. You need the fast rhythms. You need the slow rhythms. But that meaty stuff is what we really live to try to come across when we’re out here messing around and writing.”
This is the second album with Terry and Kenny in the band. How did that impact writing and recording the new album?
“The first one, neither one did much writing or anything like that. Obviously, Kenny did the leads for it. But this time around, Kenny actually wrote two of the songs. So that was kind of fun. Donald and I haven’t done that much recording with other bands. Almost everything we’ve done in our career has been with Trevor and/or a guitarist in Obituary. So we haven’t done a lot of writing, and Kenny hasn’t done a lot of writing. He’s a relative rookie in being in a band and writing songs too. So it was kind of fun and interesting for everybody when he came over and just had a couple of ideas. That’s kind of what makes this fun; when you create these things. You know, I couldn’t be happier with our line-up right now. There’s just the five of us. We get along so well. We’re all on the same page. We’re absolutely playing really good live right now. All cylinders are firing. We’re ready to get out and hit that Kreator tour for sure.”
This year marks the 25th anniversary of The End Complete: Can you share your memories of making that album?
“Geez, that’s a lot of brain cells ago [laughs]. I believe that’s still a Scott Burns–still a Morrisound product we did with that record. I think The End Complete was one of our best-selling records, believe it or not. It was a great album cover. We did a video for that thing. You figure, when we did Slowly [We Rot], we had so many of those songs kind of written, and didn’t really plan on doing an album. So when Roadrunner kind of came to us and said, ‘Do you wanna do an album?’ We just kinda gave them some music and it was out there before we knew it and we didn’t really pay much attention to it. Then we got the idea to do the second record, which we kind of wrote fast really, and got Cause of Death out because we had a bunch of songs for that too. So it seems like those first two albums were a little bit of a blur. We never did any touring for Slowly We Rot. Some of us weren’t even out of high school yet. It wasn’t really until The End Complete came around that I think we really all started looking at each other and seeing what was in front of us for what we could possibly do. It was actually a pretty important record for us and one we had time to think about playing for and put together as a whole, where the first two just kind of flew by without much attention to them.”
You can check out the full interview with John Tardy and watch the video for “Sentence Day” below, and catch them on tour this spring with Kreator, Midnight, and Horrendous.