Having broken the spell of a lengthy hiatus, pioneering death metalers Obituary hit the studio in early 2004, and began work on what was to become their long anticipated release. In a relatively short span of time, the Obies emerged from the crypt bearing Frozen in Time--- evidence, at least on its face, which would indicate that few problems arose for the band in terms of rediscovering their chemistry. As to the title, Frozen in Time might have been the most exacting choice. The band holds no reservation in pointing out the title's relevance to the circumstances surrounding their reformation.
Perhaps Frozen in Time is all the more apt, given the material contained within its tracks. Simply put--- this is classic Obituary. From a standpoint of writing and song structure, there are moments within Frozen in Time (minus the axemanship of James Murphy) which are comparable to that of Obituary's legendary Cause of Death.
Good news for those ranks in tune with that deluge of material which flooded forth from the Floridian death metal scene in the early 1990s. Real good.
Some will run with this as an indication that the band lacks innovation--- and conveniently numb themselves against the fact that, to the degree that innovation is predicated upon originality, Obituary has always been in a class all their own. Obituary wears their originality on their sleeve, and appropriately so. Few metal acts may lay claim to the pedigree that Obituary can. Period. Whether the sound is right for the listener or not--- one item is certain--- Obituary's sound is distinct to the point that it can be recognized in a nanosecond.
Even as that first riff for the opening track (Redneck Stomp) charges up, the tempo bar is set for many of the tracks to come. For those familiar with the Obies' delivery, that means jagged, mid tempo romp. That it is instrumental gives the listener the feel of a live jam room--- almost as if it were a snapshot of the Obies jamming out in early 2004, getting that chemistry back into their blood.
"Redneck Stomp" fades out at 3:32--- and then--- enter the unmistakable lunge of Obituary's thrash-soaked riffage on "On the Floor". Far from carving a niche with technical death, the mighty cog of Obituary's machinery has always jumped furiously from the riff itself. Tracks like "On the Floor", "Back Inside", and "Stand Alone" are prime examples of guitarists Trevor Peres' and Allen West's unyielding and pitiless take on the thrash techniques developed throughout the 1980s.
The major disappointment with Frozen in Time is the sound mix. The guitars were subjected to what sounds like quite a bit of compression, killing the prospect of much dynamic interaction between Trevor Peres and Allen West, and giving them a distant quality--- more than what one might expect from Obituary. The drums, additionally, seem a bit overpowering and at times, from track to track, uneven in strength.
Do the pros still outweigh the cons?
With "Insane", not much analysis is required to understand why this song was released in video format as well. This is signature Obituary--- particularly in respect to vocalist John Tardy's delivery, indisputably one of the most unique in all of metaldom. This song is a sincere face flattener. A more suitable title could not have been chosen. Right around 2:06 into the song, the listener is presented with the other component to what makes this band so damn vicious, and that is their unwavering gift for taking a song into a head-first break down--- those bits of song that work like flash powder for scrapping it out at live shows. When observers note that Obituary, although a death metal act, has traditionally been able to curry favor even among the most scrutinizing within the ranks of hardcore, it is that down and nasty, dead-lock groove that the Obies belt out that has done it. Few metal bands can do it better, as is evidenced in tracks like "Blindsided", "Mindset", and "Denied".
For longtime Obituary fans, the reaction to Frozen in Time will be duly positive--- but can Frozen in Time also serve to bring newer--- perhaps younger--- listeners into Obituary's fold?
It can, and it demonstrably HAS.