Obituary is an American death metal band formed in October 1984 in Tampa, Florida, United States, under the name Executioner, then changed the name’s spelling to Xecutioner before finally changing their name to Obituary in 1988. The band comprises vocalist John Tardy, drummer Donald Tardy, guitarist Trevor Peres and bassist Terry Butler. The band was a fundamental act in the development of death metal music, and is one of the most successful death metal bands of all time. Obituary are listed by Nielsen Soundscan as the fifth best-selling death metal band of all time.
The band’s first lineup was composed of John Tardy (vocals), Jerry Tidwell (lead guitar), Trevor Peres (guitar), Jerome Grable (bass) & Donald Tardy (drums). They made their vinyl debut in 1987 with two tracks (“Find The Arise” & “Like The Dead”) on the Raging Death compilation. Not long after the release of the compilation, bassist Grable was replaced by Daniel Tucker. The following year, shortly before the release of the band’s first album Slowly We Rot, they changed their name to Obituary after they signed with Roadrunner Records in 1988.
Cause of Death is their second album, released on September 19, 1990. Cause of Death is considered a classic album in the history of death metal. The artwork was done by artist Michael Whelan. It is their first release with longtime member Frank Watkins on bass, and also their first and only album with guitarist James Murphy, previously of the group Death. The End Complete – the third album was released on April 21, 1992. This album marked the return of guitarist Allen West who performed on the debut album. This album is Obituary’s best selling, with over 200,000 copies sold in the U.S. and more than 550,000 worldwide. It reached #16 on Billboard’s Top Heatseekers chart. Also, the band’s new logo introduced on The End Complete is the best selling shirt print in the history of Roadrunner Records. A music video was made for the title track.
The fourth album World Demise was released on September 6, 1994. A music video was made for the track “Don’t Care”. Back from the Dead is the fifth album by the band and was released on April 22, 1997. This was the band’s final album before their six-year breakup from 1997 to 2003.
After 1997’s Back from the Dead album, the band had grown tired of touring, which led to the group disbanding. During this time period, Donald Tardy played in Andrew W.K.’s touring band. Allen West focused on his two projects, Lowbrow and Six Feet Under. Trevor Peres formed Catastrophic in 2001, which released one album, The Cleansing, in that same year. Obituary reformed in 2003 and Catastrophic continued to exist alongside the reformed Obituary. A reunion album, Frozen in Time, was released in 2005. The band’s first live DVD, Frozen Alive, was released in January 2007.
Obituary was signed with Candlelight Records for its next three releases, Xecutioner’s Return (2007), Darkest Day (2009), and the EP Left to Die (2008). A concert DVD release was also announced for January 2010. In April 2010, Obituary began work on new material for their ninth studio album Inked in Blood. It was the first Obituary album not to be recorded with longtime bassist Frank Watkins since their 1989 debut album Slowly We Rot. In 2013, the band rebuilt their studio, and continued work on the new album. On Friday, August 2, 2013, the band launched a Kickstarter campaign with a goal of raising $10,000.00; the money raised was promised to allow Obituary to record and release their ninth album independently. The goal was met on August 3.
When interviewed by metal webzine All About The Rock, John Tardy said of the Kickstarter campaign, “This campaign has been awesome and just confirms again what we already know and that is that we have the greatest fans in the world. We are using Kickstarter to raise enough money to release an album on our own. This is not a bash against record companies, it is just what we want to do. Years ago this would not even be a thought, but today we feel everything is in place for us, for better or worse, give it a shot.”. Though the band raised enough money to self-released, they still signed to Relapse Records and partnered with the label for distribution of Inked In Blood, their first Relapse release. On October 18, 2015, their former bassist Frank Watkins died from cancer.