Frozen In Time (Roadrunner)
by Eric Chon
This is probably the most apt album title I’ve ever seen. This is yet another Obituary release and it harkens back to the glory days of the early ’90s when men were men and metal was mid-paced stomp thick with groove and attitude. And while other bands stuck in that era (even though they weren’t around at the time) are a bore-and-a-half to suffer through, this was a time when Obituary shone as a pioneer. And while they’re no longer the innovators they once were, it’s never a bad time when an Obituary album is rotating in your disc-player (or, for the truly old-school, your tape deck).
And this is exactly what we have with Frozen In Time. While not quite the masterpieces that Slowly We Rot and Cause of Death are, Frozen ranks up there, far surpassing the embarrassing Back From the Dead. Stomp, stomp Floridian death metal is the order of the day here, and Obituary seem to be comfortably asserting their mastery with aplomb. Breakdowns and groove are plentiful on the ten tracks present. Slow burners like “Blindsided” sit perfectly next to intense mosh anthems like “Back Inside.”
While I can’t say Tardy has never sounded more intense, even his “average” is far, far more relentless than the hardiest efforts by the kids these days. That manic howl is so unique and utterly chilling that any change might affect its perfect delivery. Allen West inflicts superb atonal solos on top of Trevor Peres’ driving and droning rhythmic guitar, and Frank Watkins’ heavy-ended bass attack and Donald Tardy’s depleted-uranium heavy drums add an ominous edge to the album.
My gripes are few… First off, the album is short, registering only slightly more than 30 minutes. That’s just too little Obituary for me. And, despite my previous complaint, the album becomes a bit droney if you’re not in the mood. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by today’s ever-dynamic world of death metal (Darkane, Strapping Young Lad, etc.) but an album this consistent in tone, speed, and direction sometimes gets a little dull.
In the end, Obituary stands tall as a founding father of death metal, and Frozen In Time continues that proud tradition. For an established fan of Obituary, Frozen is a must-have to complete the collection. And those who are new to the game, this is a perfect introduction to the originators of the stomp-inducing breakdown.