Roadrunner Records, 2005
Genre: Death Metal
1. Redneck Stomp
2. On the Floor
5. Back Inside
7. Stand Alone
8. Slow Death
“Frozen in Time” signifies the return of the legendary Obituary to the Death Metal scene, and when I first heard about this release coming out since their last album seven years ago, I was no doubt skeptical. Unfortunately some of my inhibitions about this release showed through in the recording, however, a lot of things that I really enjoyed about Obituary have not changed one bit and they rather live up to their album title in this sense.
It’s interesting to view the return of Obituary since “Back from the Dead” was supposed to signify the end of the band. They had been doing that play on words thing for a bit with their live album being called “Dead” rather than “Live.” I thought it was a pretty witty thing to do and I’m surprised they didn’t do something so blatantly obvious with this album title; however, I think it is an applicable title nonetheless. Obituary tried doing something that few bands ever do and reminds me of Carcass’ “Reek of Putrefaction” in its attempt, but “Frozen in Time” starts off with a purely instrumental track entitled “Redneck Stomp.” This is one of the points that have changed in Obituary, and I’m not particularly sure as to why this track title was chosen, it doesn’t fit with their theme in general, nor does it really fit with the rest of album. To be honest it was only a marginally interesting track and I typically skip it whenever I listen to the album and usually I’m not in the habit of skipping even intro tracks and so forth.
For the most part this is the same Obituary that existed seven years ago and they merely picked up where they left off. However, some small facets of the group have changed. One of the aspects I didn’t enjoy very much was that John Tardy’s voice felt like it had far too much reverb on it most of the time. His layering sequences sounded awesome, but overall it didn’t sound as good as the previous works. For some reason this really shows up when listening to the album in your car, it’s not so bad on the computer or home stereo as I have tried it on all three. Regardless John Tardy has maintained that wonderful vocal tone that has always been one of Obituary’s claims to fame and he hasn’t lost one ounce of his skill over the years. One part they adjusted studio wise is the drum tone. Donald Tardy’s drums sound so much more thunderous and powerful than any of the previous Obituary albums; it is truly a wonderful experience to be honest. This is absolutely a change they should make permanent.
The guitar work for this album was pretty standard as far as Obituary goes. It had all the same influences as before and they haven’t tried to incorporate anything overly technical which is the rave of today, so for this album’s year of release this is actually rather different for what’s going around in the scene. Obituary kind of left the scene when that whole technical Death Metal approach really started to take off in popularity. However, one aspect of this album that I could have done without is that the guitar solos on here seem to be far more lackluster than the previous works. Not that Obituary ever maintained jaw dropping solos, but on this album they just didn’t fit as harmoniously as the previous works. Maybe it is something they will pull together as they work together more after such a long break, but the solos did get slightly better as the album went on, so maybe those tracks were the last written songs. Who knows? Riff wise this album is reminiscent of being a combination between “World Demise” and “The End Complete” so if those are a highlight of Obituary’s career for the listener, then this is truly an album you will enjoy. Other than that Obituary maintains their standard brutal riffing with thundering bass behind it with the mid-paced drumming.
Overall this is a very good album; just some minor aspects caught me off guard here and there. But as an Obituary connoisseur after listening to this album a few times I find this a worthy Obituary album to own. However, when it comes right down to it, I will probably choose to listen to the likes of “Cause of Death,” “Slowly We Rot” or “World Demise” over this release, no matter what improvements they’ve made. They still clearly have the songwriting skill of the past, but there’s something about those albums that remains special and better than the newer material, no matter how fresh this stuff is. A seven year break isn’t exactly something I typically expect to be blown away by on the first return album, some bands pull it off quite well, others flop really hard, “Frozen in Time” is somewhere between the middle and the top as far as return albums go.