As hard as it is to fathom, Florida death metal pioneers, Obituary, owe a lot to melodic hard rock goofball Andrew WK. The band had been on indefinite hiatus since 1997 and by the middle of 2002 playing together again was the furthest thing on their minds. Singer John Tardy was working at a computer company, guitarist Trevor Peres was in Catastrophic, guitarist Allen West was in Lowbrow, bassist Frank Watkins was hawking mortgages, and drummer Donald Tardy was playing live with Andrew WK. Then, before an Ozzfest gig in West Palm Beach, Andrew WK called John and Frank and invited them to play a few songs onstage with him.
"We hooked up to practice a couple songs and we remembered how fun it was to play together," John says. "That's all it took. We ended up doing a couple shows that were really well received, and things just snowballed from there." In early 2004, Obituary finally decided to start working on their sixth studio record. Often, when bands haven't been together for years, writing sessions are initially strained or unproductive and it takes a while for the musicians to get back on their creative feet. Obituary had no such problem. "It was really like putting on an old pair of shoes," John says. "It didn't seem like it had been six years at all, it was more like the blink of an eye. Some of us had longer beards than we used to have but everything felt the same. After about five minutes together, we were totally back at 100 percent."
One listen to the band's new album, Frozen In Time, and it's clear that Obituary have returned with the same force and fortitude they had in the early '90s. "On the Floor" opens with an incisive, churning riff, thunderous beats and bloodcurdling vocals before shifting into a chugging, bone-splintering breakdown, "Blindsided" rides a gradually ascending hate groove to a destination just south of Hell, and "Back Inside" fuses colossal crunch with pummeling double-bass drumming to create a deadly mosh pit firestorm. "When I sit and listen to it, I hear some songs that sound like they might have come off of our Slowly We Rot record and others that sound like they might have come off of World Demise," John says. "Then there are others that are unique to us and different than what we've done in the past. So it's really well rounded, and at the same time, it's the heaviest thing we've ever done."
Obituary spent three months writing the album and practiced the songs until they could play them blindfolded. Then, they took a trip down memory lane, coaxing veteran metal producer Scott Burns out of retirement and working with him at their old stomping ground, Morrisound studios in Tampa, Florida. They also worked with producer Mark Prator at his Tampa ProTools Studio, Red Room Recorders. "That was incredible because we've watched Mark grow up through the years," John says. "On our second record, he was emptying garbage cans at the studio, and now he has his own studio. And being back with Scott was amazing. We've known him so long and he has an instinct for what Obituary should sound like."
From start to finish, Frozen In Time was created without any major trauma or turbulence. In fact, one of the biggest challenges for Obituary happened after they finished in the studio and were trying to come up with a name for the record. They considered titling it after one of the album tracks, but decided that no single cut could adequately represent the album. They thought about naming it something that would reference to their reunification after seven long years. Finally, they decided they were best off with Frozen In Time. “After six years of inactivity, it's like we awakened out of hibernation just as heavy as we were before. It was like our sound was frozen in time, ” John says. “This album isn't a new beginning, it's just what we've always done - just newer and better.”