From the 1990 landmark album Cause of Death came this crushing ‘tune’ by the Floridian quintet. Again produced by Scott Burns and featuring melo-shred hired gun James Murphy contributing to a lineup of strong fully-evolved classic Death Metal tracks, this album is widely considered essential when describing the history of this genre of extreme music.
The track Dying was unusual (now considered fairly normal) due to its very long introduction which traverses a number of different riffs at different tempos often skillfully juxtaposed to create sonic contrast from section to section. This use of dynamics is what keeps Obituary’s music interesting for me, rather than being fast all the time with blast beats prevalent throughout, Obituary have understood and internalized what it means to be ‘sludgily’ heavy (the best word I can think of to describe it) and how to use tempo changes and contrast to create perceived heaviosity. Low – E (or D) riffing often happens with an open low string rather than a fully palm-muted and scooped chunk which lends itself to more variety and often a thicker wall of sound with more note ‘bleeding’ occurring.
The song itself is apt – during the four-and-a-half minutes it runs for, the lyrics consist solely of the lines:
“We’re dying for our souls to learn.
We’re dying for our souls to burn.
We’re dying for our souls to learn.
We’re dying, euurrrrrrgghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh”
John Tardy’s ‘voice as instrument’ approach works perfectly – the lyrics are largely irrelevant – it’s more about the noise he makes fitting so well with the atmospherics/mood of the music. Nevertheless, I always find these 20 seconds of vocals a highlight given Tardy’s unrivalled gravelly sub-demonic gruntings – easily best DM vocalist in my book – Lord knows how he does it and how his vocal chords can survive making such sounds.
The ‘heaviest’ moment I am talking about occurs at 01:29 on the studio recording, and in the below YouTube video at 01:36.
Here’s my transcription. Tune all strings down a whole step, though I’ve tabbed it in standard notation:
Heavy palm muting on the single notes. Observe the use of what some refer to as the Ob chord (named after the band) which is a power 5 chord with the 5th doubled an octave lower for super thick sound. Get a mate, play this at the same time along with a fast double bass drum beat and you’re there bro’ – euuuurrrrrgrghhhhhhhHH!!!!!!!
P.S. I always love the comments on YouTube – one for this video reads:
‘the drummer and one of the guitarists have great beards and of course badass hair’.
Indeed they have. Gotta have badass hair to be Metal…