It might seem strange that Florida, of all places, was one of the birth places of the pummeling and extreme genre known as death metal (or maybe it’s not so strange), but in the mid-to-late 80s and into the 90s metal pioneers Obituary — along with fellow Florida bands like Death, Morbid Angel and Deicide—helped forge an internationally popular sound that still makes ears ring today.Get Savannah arts and culture news delivered to your inbox: Sign up for our morning, afternoon and Dine newsletters
Obituary formed in 1984 as Executioner, then Xcutioner, until they finalized their name in 1988. The band has gone through some line-up changes, with brothers John Tardy (vocals) and Donald Tardy (drums), and guitarist Trevor Peres as the only consistent members. Obituary broke up in 1997, but reformed in 2003 and over the years have shifted roles from pioneers to elder statesmen, with 10 consistent and uncompromising albums so far, and an unwavering commitment to crushingly heavy, down-tuned, mid-tempo rhythms. Over three decades on, the band are still one of the most popular death metal bands in the world, and to celebrate their longevity Obituary are revisiting their 30 year old classic debut album, 1989’s “Slowly We Rot,” on their current tour.
“Slowly We Rot” is a seminal album in metal history. At the time of its release, thrash and speed metal bands were raising tempos to blistering levels, but Obituary stood out with a more dynamic sound. They could still shred with the fastest bands, but would also slow things down to a doom laden, Black Sabbath-like dirge. While death metal vocals are usually characterized as deep, guttural grunts from the bowels of Hell, Obituary’s vocalist John Tardy sounded like an escapee from a mental institution with incoherent howling and barks. Tardy notably often didn’t even sing actual words, but rather vocalized agonizingly like he was holding his own guts in with blood-covered hands.
With “Slowly We Rot,” Obituary set the mold for death metal, influencing countless other bands, but still retaining their own unique qualities (particularly in Tardy’s vocals) that kept them in the front of a field that has grown more and more crowded.
When Obituary comes to Victory North Savannah, they will play a set heavily laden with tunes from “Slowly We Rot.” Obituary has a deep catalog, so it has been decades since they played many of these songs live, which is a treat for longtime fans and an aural history lesson for newcomers. It’s also a welcome challenge for the band who had to “dust the cobwebs of off the old ‘Slowly’ cassette and re-learn all the old songs.” Fans might get an opportunity to pick which of their favorites they want to hear.
Joining Obituary on the bill are False Prophet and Extinction A.D. False Prophet, from Greensboro, N.C., have been around almost as long as Obituary with their first demo “Sign of the Cross” having been released back in 1989. False Prophet are influenced by mid-80s thrash like Exodus and Death Angel, and play fast, technical metal that will get heads banging. Long Island, New York’s Extinction A.D. formed in 2013 and combine the energetic spirit of 80’s bands like Testament, Metallica, and Slayer with modern “power and precision.”