Best of the 90’s: Obituary – Cause of Death
Written by Matt Drummond
“Chopped in half, feel the blood spill from your mouth, with rotting ways comes destiny, feel the soul taking over, bleed!” If that doesn’t pique curiosity in you then you may be better off catching a movie on Lifetime, or a show on home improvement. What lies beneath those lyrics is a horror show, and the grand marshal is a band called Obituary.
Recently, my editor and I thought cracking open my vault of metal knowledge. Given my decades of experience we felt like talking about the best albums of the 90’s would be beneficial and informative for metal heads young and old.
Now look, there’s an endless list of things I should not be asked to do like teach an etiquette class, go to formal gatherings, meet your parents, etc. One thing I can do, however, is inform you of the 90’s metal scene. The 90’s were a decade of dominance and I was lucky enough to not only live through it, but cherish it. My goal now is to make everyone cherish it, regardless if you were there or not.
In a hypothetical sense, if there was a heavy metal Mayflower, Obituary would have definitely been on that ship. Pioneer’s of death metal, Obituary formed in 1984 in the death metal breeding ground of Florida. Originally using the name Executioner, Obituary is one of the most successful death metal bands of all time.
On September 19, 1990, these metal pioneers attacked the mainstream with the groundbreaking album, Cause of Death. This was the band’s second release and followup to Slowly We Rot. This 9 track beast is one of the trailblazers and is one of the reasons you have the many of the band’s you love today.
Cause of Death had a killer lineup; John Tardy (vocals), Trevor Peres (rhythm guitar), Frank Watkins (Bass), Donald Tardy (drums), and legendary Death guitarist, James Murphy (lead guitar). This was the only album to feature Murphy, but he put his stamp on the Obituary legacy regardless.
‘Cause of Death’ is loaded with crushing, low tuned bombs. The album opens with ‘Infected’, a behemoth of an opener. An ominous beginning gives way to a classic, low tuned chug. At 1:40, Obituary opens their funhouse of terror. John Tardy unleashes one of the most brutal and recognizable vocalizations in metal, and so starts Cause of Death. If any of these tracks were on another band’s album, they would be standouts. I’ll just mention my personal favorites, and they are: ‘Body Bag’, and ‘Chopped in Half.’ I’m not even sure how to describe them, but they’re best described as incredible and classic death metal songs. Not only are the songs on Cause of Death legendary, so is the cover art, which is complements of the depraved mind of artist, Michael Whelan.
The 90’s produced death metal that is unparalleled in today’s world, It scared people then and it probably scares people today, but it’s a groundbreaking classic. So today I give you Obituary’s Cause of Death. May you cherish it and pass it on.