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Obituary - Slowly We Rot - LP -

Price per Unit (stuk): €19.95

The landmark debut album from death metal pioneers Obituary would stand apart from other crucial death metal releases in that year. This was a time when thrash metal, the previous de facto king of extreme metal, had plateaued and darker, more sinister sounds began taking precedence in extreme metal. We were still a few years off from the second wave of black metal storming forth from Scandinavia to drag us all into the night, and the time was just right for something like the sick, savage sounds of this Floridian quintet to have sufficient impact.

Comparatively, other debut albums from similar death metal bands such as Morbid Angel or Macabre, of the same period either focused on musical prowess or outright bludgeoning speed, respectively. This was not the case with Obituary. Between John Tardy's vomitory vocals, Trevor Peres and Allen West's grinding Hellhammer-inspired wall of guitar noise, and brother Donald Tardy's double bass-fueled battery, the band presented itself as a an almost neanderthal-level affront to what was taking place outside of them in the scene at the time. In some ways they drew parallels to the Swedish death metal movement across the ocean that also focused more on mood than strict musicianship, but I digress.

"Slowly We Rot" presents itself as a belt grinder to the face, kicking into a double-bass stomp and bellowed growl within the opening moments of the disc, never letting up throughout it's duration. What's most interesting is that Obituary didn't seem to believe in conventional song structures or even lyrics at this point. They had just switched over from their mostly-thrash style employed on demo and compilation entries (see: tracks contributed to the "Raging Death" compilation under their old name Xecutioner), going for the throat with 2-3 1/2 minute bursts that have a smattering of regurgitated growls, riffs, and solos. Songs were short, linear, and seldom a repeated verse/chorus structure.

Progressing track to track, the album feels mostly like a unified body of work rather than a compilation of single songs, much the same way their sophomore record also did, minus all the cross-faded atmospherics. "Slowly We Rot" wasn't even a single body of work technically, as the first 7 tracks came from an 8-track demo they shopped around to labels, and impressed Monte Conner of Roadrunner Records so much that the label insisted on making it a part of their debut. Naturally the band was pushed back into the studio to record a total of 5 more tracks to make it a full-length, but those tracks were recorded on a 24-track deck and despite the increased sophistication of equipment, feel less direct than the first 7. Perhaps it is this jarring difference between the first portion and latter portion of the album that serves as the major criticism, if any, that can be lobbied at this seminal release.

As a whole, this album serves as an early example of "less is more" in much the same way "Left Hand Path" by Entombed did or "Severed Survival" by Autopsy had done. It was a style that Floridian legends Death would also abandon after 1990 as well, but Obituary would carry on at least until the mid 90's, and with this release, they would issue that manifesto with force. It's flawed, and by modern standards may even be considered boring in an age of blast beats, poly-rhythms, and breakdowns, but for those who hadn't heard otherwise, this was a ten-ton load of bricks unlike any other. Give it a listen, if nothing else, it is incredibly unrelenting in it's persistence to be heavy.

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