Tampa, Florida's Obituary are a veteran death metal band whose origins date back to the style's first wave. Though they've endured lineup changes, three of its original members -- drummer Don Hardy, vocalist Tom Hardy, and guitarist Trevor Peres -- have been aboard since 1986. Their early sound juxtaposed lo-fi death metal and hardcore, while Hardy's vocals, though screamed, were readily decipherable -- this is no longer true and lyric sheets are necessary. Early albums including 1989's Slowly We Rot and 1990's Cause of Death embodied the chug and burn aesthetic. Following the release of 1997's Back from the Dead, they split for several years.
In 2004, a reunited quintet recorded Frozen in Time. Xecutioner's Return followed in 2007 to glowing reviews internationally. Darkest Day appeared in 2009. The band issued Inked in Blood in 2014 and Obituary in 2017. Three live albums and the single "A Dying World" were released between 2020 and 2022. In January 2023 the full-length Dying of Everything was released by Relapse.
Possessed and Death may have brought death metal to life, but it was Obituary who brought it to fruition. After releasing some demos as Xecutioner as far back as 1986, the five-man band -- the Hardy Brothers, Peres, guitarist Allen West and bassist Daniel Tucker -- debuted as Obituary in 1989 with Slowly We Rot; the album is a landmark in the evolution of death metal. Previous forays into the genre -- primarily by the above-mentioned bands along with grindcore innovators Repulsion and Napalm Death -- were exercises in relentlessness. These bands took the breakneck abandon of Slayer's Reign in Blood one step further to the point of sheer musical excess and abandon. Obituary, on the other hand, varied their tempo considerably -- and did so at the absolute height of speed metal.
Yes, the band could play at breakneck speed, but within the same song, guitarists Allen West and Trevor Peres could slow the tempo down to dirge-like levels at a moment's notice, all the while keeping the music heavy as hell thanks to downtuned guitars and the snarling vocals of John Tardy. As a result, Slowly We Rot made quite a splash back in 1989, influencing an entire legion of death metal bands in Florida: Morbid Angel, Deicide, Malevolent Creation, Cannibal Corpse, and numerous others now forgotten among the thousands of international bands that followed. In a way, Slowly We Rot was the prototypical death metal album, establishing a template that would come to define the style (one that is distinct from grindcore and black metal, it should be pointed out).