Obituary’s Return: Underground metal legends return with strong new album

You can’t kill Florida death-metal legends Obituary. They’re immune to it. After a prolonged hiatus (from 1997 to 2003) and a nasty split with their longtime label (Roadrunner), the band is back to classic form with the thoroughly harsh new LP, Xecutioner’s Return. It’s a throwback to their early dark glory -- after they decided to add actual lyrics to their demon-dog-growling vocals, but before the genre traded whiplash groove for sterile technical excess. Released on foundry Candlelight Records, it’s one of the year’s metal must-haves, sure rekindle a spark in anyone who’s every owned an album by Slayer, D.R.I., or the band once known as Xectioner. Obituary has hit the road, temporarily without guitarist Allen West, who’s been in jail for DUI since November. Guitarist Trevor Peres stepped up his game to fill in for his missing friend, and he talked to Scene about the new album, the tour, and keeping a fire lit 20 years after his band launched. Peres moved to Phoenix a few years back, but still talks like a friendly metal dude with a hint of a friendly Southern twang. Scene: Was Allen involved in the album at all? Peres: No, he’s been in jail since November, and he’ll be in lockup through February. The record came together pretty quick. Me and [drummer] Donald [Tardy] wrote the music, and we produced it ourself, in our studio, Redneck Studios. We have our own sub-label now, Gibtown Records. We’re talking about starting our own and recording some other bands. The album title is obviously a reference to the band’s original name, but what did you mean by using “Xecutioner”? We’re done with Roadrunner. We feel rejuvenated. It feels so much like our old stuff, and it’s like the return of the Executioner. It’s a return to what we were 20 yaers ago. We feel 19 again. The return of metal is big news. Do you feel like it’s come full circle? It’s hard [to say]. You have Ozzfest, with 30,000 people, but it’s a festival, so it’s hard to say. It seems like it’s really strong. But when we came on the scene, we got on Headbanger’s Ball, and people say it was almost commercially acceptable. But it seems to me like our shows are almost the same size, club shows with maybe 700, maybe 1000 people. What kind of set will you be doing for this tour? People are really liking the new songs. We’ve been playing two or three of them live, and they’re going nuts for them. They fit in really well with the old material. So we’re thinking we’re going to go out and play the whole new album, take a little bit of an break, drink a beer, and play an encore of maybe ten classics. You’re a landmark death metal band, but you really don’t a lot of the things that death bands are known for - the super-technical riffs, etc. And you’ve always had more of a rock element, that groove. Music should be fun. No matter how brutal and evil and Satanic, it’s got to be fun. And if your grandmother can’t shake her booty to it, you’re doing something wrong. My grandmother would shake her ass to that shit. Her and my grandfather played bluegrass and country music. She would say it reminded her of it in a way - they kick into a fast beat, and they break it down, and they’ve got a groove. If it ain’t fun, what in the hell are you doing it for? Obituary plays Peabody’s (2083 E. 21st St., 216-776-9999) Thursday, July 20. 7 p.m., $18. With Alabama Thunderpussy, Full Blown Chaos, and Hemlock.-- D.X. Ferris
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