Obituary was founded as a thrash metal band following the footsteps of Mantas/Death in Florida in 1984. Donald was fifteen. John was seventeen. The brothers’ parents were helping the boys. The band was covering Metallica, Slayer, Savatage, Nasty Savage and others. The group even opened for Morbid Angel in 1986. Raging Death Vol. 1 of Godly Records featured Xecutioner in 1987. The band changed monickers as the name was already taken. The second name was changed based on Roadrunner’s request - after signing the band - so the band does not get confused with another act again of the same name. The group xisted until 1997 and broke up in tandem with the members’ other projects, the musicians picking up full-time jobs and the stagnation of the death metal market. The band’s label had been unsupportive. The Tardy brothers were doing home contracting work. Watkins became a stockbroker. Allen West had submitted to alcohol and drugs. Donald Tardy was also drumming for pop crooner Andrew WK. West joined Six Feet Under. Peres had Catastrophic with members of Internal Bleeding and Pyrexia. The group was back in 2003 however and had one more album to give Roadrunner contractually.
Signing to Roadrunner in 1989 the band quickly revolutionized metal vocals through John Tardy’s xtreme growls, not to mention the musicians' xtremely deathly take on music. Tardy used his vocals purely as growling formulations without lyrics at first. Former Hellwitch member had met the band when it was opening for Amon and Morbid Angel in 1989 and would soon join them. Daniel Tucker had simply disappeared. The band was using its words for environmental concerns by album number four, namely World Demise. That album would also feature some experimentation including samples. The first four albums sold half a million records and the band’s shows were well attended everywhere. The group’s merchandise was also selling very well. All of this made it even more astounding that Roadrunner would drop the ball on the band and abandon a group so quickly and casually. The band was virtually ignored by a label, that had moved on to pop and rock, and not promoted. The End Complete had hit UK and US Top 100 charts.
Death metal producer Scott Burns produced the group’s first few records. Rick Miller was the intended producer for the debut, but became ill as the recording got under way. An Early show was in Mexico. Another was the Milwaukee Metal Fest. The group opened for Sacred Reich in the US in the summer of 1990. Morgoth toured with Obituary and Demolition Hammer in the autumn of 1990. Forced Entry also opened for the band. The band next toured with Sadus and Sepultura. The band was introduced to former Possessed manager Debbie Abono who began working with Obituary. The band considered former Possessed singer Jeff Becerra as a guest on The End Complete, but it did not happen. Dismember toured with Napalm Death and Obituary under the Campaign For Musical Destruction banner in 1992. The band played in Europe with Atrocity and Pitch Shifter in 1994. This led to members of the bands forming Meathook Seed a so-called industrial band. The group played at the Fuck The Commerce VII in 2004. Other bands there were Master and Incantation. The band announced it would release its comeback album, Frozen In Time, on July 19th 2005 through Roadrunner Records. The band announced a tour with Napalm Death. The band’s 2006 full-length video, Frozen Alive, was shot in Warsaw, Poland and issued by Metal Mind. Obituary, Holy Moses and Avatar toured in January. Candlelight Records set September 16th 2008 as the American release date for Left To Die, an EP from the band. The band was touring the USA that month as well. Tardy Brothers, featuring singer John and drummer Donald, released its debut album Bloodline on April 7th 2009 through Candlelight Records. The project was founded in 2008. Bloodline was a demo at first. The band featured Xecutioner (pre-Obituary) guitarist Jerry Tidwell. The brothers were still death metalling. Obituary itself was on Candlelight. Obituary released a new DVD, Live Xecution – Party.San 2008, on November 19th 2009 through Regain Records. The footage was filmed at Party.San Open Air festival, 2008 at Bad Berka, Germany. Obituary, Merauder and Woe Of Tyrants opened for Entombed in Canada and USA in 2010. Terry Butler rejoined Obituary. Allen West had a new Tampa, Florida-based death metal band called Southwicked. He was enlisted to tour Europe with Lowbrow in 2008. Denial Fiend had a string of US dates with Obituary in late 2011. A show on October 13th, 2012 at the Brass Mug in Tampa was the annual Metal Meowlisha show, which was a charity operated by Donald Tardy and his wife Heather, with all proceeds going to benefit felines. Kam Lee and Allen West had a new death metal band called Corpse Rot. Obituary announced a North American headlining tour in late 2012. Kenny Andrews, a former fill-in bassist and roadie, would become the band’s guitarist replacing Ralph Santolla who was with the band from 2007. Santolla had joined once West was incarcerated. The near month-long Carnival Of Death Tour 2012 ran through September and included a reformed Broken Hope, Decrepit Birth, Jungle Rot and Encrust. Former Obituary and Six Feet Under guitarist Allen West was arrested and incarcerated at the end of March 2013 in Lake Panasoffkee, Florida for methamphetamine production and possession. Police discovered the material and substance upon being called to the house to investigate two intruders. He was also arrested for DUI in January 2008. West was in the band for a year in 1988 to 1989 (had reportedly left to become a father), from 1991 to 1997 and again from 2003 to 2006. During his second absence, former Death and Agent Steel guitarist James Murphy was the group’s second guitarist. Murphy would surprisingly leave to Cancer. Apparently, the door was always left open for Allen to return. West would return. Obituary reported that James Murphy constantly complained and the musicians did not get along as a result. Obituary went corporate with something called UNATION and had a $5 (they called it $4.99) pay-per-view live stream show on Saturday, June 8th 2013 at The Orpheum in hometown of Tampa, Florida. The show featured an oldies’ set list and included professional multi-camera footage and sound of the band onstage. Obituary was playing a few autumn shows before entering the studio to record a new album at its own Redneck Studio in 2013. The new record, which was due in the summer of 2014, was distributed by Relapse. The record was financed by a Kickstarter campaign and had been in the works for four years. Obituary was playing shows in Europe that summer. The band toured with Death To All. Voivod, Carcass, Napalm Death, Obituary and Herod used the Deathcrusher monicker on a European tour in autumn of 2015. Former Obituary and Gorgoroth bassist Frank Watkins died due to cancer in October 2015. He was 47 and had left Obituary in 2010. He had been in Gorgoroth and had managed Malevolent Creation recently. Obituary and Malevolent Creation had played shows in Guatemala and El Salvador in February 2009. A purported First Annual Florida Metal Fest organized by John And Donald Tardy would take place on January 30th 2016. The concert featured Corrosion Of Conformity, Trouble, Atheist, Deicide and more. Cannibal Corpse kicked off 2016 with a month-long tour of North America in February with openers Obituary, as direct support, followed by Canada’s Cryptopsy and Los Angeles’ Abysmal Dawn. Exodus headlined the Battle Of The Bays European tour in October and November, 2016 with Obituary, Prong and Australia’s King Parrot opening. Kreator headlined early 2017’s Decibel Magazine Tour. Support came from Obituary, Midnight and Horrendous in early 2017. Obituary had issued its second record for Relapse. Midnite Hellion would play a record release show on September 17 2017 at Sayreville, NJ's Starland Ballroom along with Exodus, Obituary, Power Trip and Dust Bolt. This tour was called The Battle Of The Bays. Skeletonwitch, Dust Bolt, Pallbearer and Obituary toured in the spring of 2018. Obituary was announced as openers for a European tour as part of Slayer's farewell tour, also featuring Lamb of God and Anthrax, in late 2018. Obituary and Exmortus were touring the USA. Obituary would embark on a North American tour in the autumn of 2019. Support was to come from Abbath, Midnight and Devil Master in September and October. An announced tour of Black Label Society, Obituary and Lord Dying was cancelled in 2019. The bands were supposed to tour North America in December.
OBITUARY - FROZEN ALIVE (DVD) - METAL MIND
It seems that the much maligned Florida quintet have been in and out of the scene too many times, the acclaim, or lack thereof, for The End Complete and World Demise and Allen West’s stint at Six Feet Under haven’t really helped Obituary over the years. All of which makes this even more surprising. The quality of the live performance and most recent songs will shock many. The 23-song live show, another recorded in Warsaw, Poland is better than one what might expect from any band let alone these 21-year scene veterans. The set includes the very early in Slowly We Rot, Internal Bleeding and Find The Arise all the way to a selection from 2005’s Frozen In Time album in Redneck Stomp, On The Floor and Insane. The latter is where the true surprise appears because Insane is a song that in and by itself is the best in what a death metal song should be, heavy and fast riffs, barks and growls, and a drummer abusing his kit. If there is a 'surprise of the year' category, somewhere Obituary should be on or near the top. As in any DVD there are a few bonus material. In this case they consist of two video clips, footage from a Donald Tardy drum solo at a Romanian show, a 'making of', some backstage footage and two separate interviews where the members of the band, minus West, talk about the past and the present whilst throwing a few cliché bones for all hungry fans and non-fans alike, but here the music does indeed speak much louder. - Anna Tergel