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Obituary Destroy The Phoenix

Obituary perform live at The Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto, Canada. Photo Credit: Jay Broderick

Toronto, Canada - It was 31 years ago in 1992 when I first heard of this death metal band out of Florida called Obituary. At the time, I had made a blind purchase of their 3rd album release entitled The End Complete. As with most of us metal heads, the cover art looked cool, and the band's name sounded cool, so of course it was a no brainer to take that CD up to the cashier and make my purchase. The resonating sounds from this album were so heavy and brooding. Once lead singer John Tardy's voice growled through the speakers, I thought "YES! This is my music!!".

Unbeknownst to me at the time, The End Complete was actually the band's 3rd album, having released their first 3 years earlier. That debut album was Slowly We Rot, and was released in 1989. The band would go on to release 5 total albums between 1989 and 1997, but broke up shortly after. Thankfully, after Andrew WK asked Tardy and bassist Frank Watkins to join him onstage during an Ozzfest gig (Obituary drummer Donald Tardy was already playing with Andrew WK), the band realized how fun life as musicians was. After an 8 year absence, this chance meeting resulted in a resurrection and the band has been going ever since.

Earlier this year, on January 13th, Obituary released their 11th full length recording Dying of Everything. It's this most recent album that finds the band on tour through North America. It's a tour that got kicked off on April 28th in Charlotte, North Carolina, and will see the band play through 23 dates, ending in Louisville, Kentucky on May 28th. With support from Immolation, Blood Incantation and Ingrown, Inertia Entertainment brought the tour to Toronto's Phoenix Concert Theatre on May 7th.


Ingrown perform live at the Phoenix Concert Theatre in support of Obituary. Photo Credit: Jay Broderick

Ahead of the Boise based hardcore outfit Ingrown kicking off the "Barely Alive North America 2023" Tour in Toronto, I notice a Toronto Heavy Metal icon entering the concert hall. It's not his musicianship that highlights Drew Masters as a stalwart in the Toronto Heavy Metal scene, but rather his printed publication M.E.A.T Magazine from the late 80s, early 90s. Always cool to see Toronto's metal figures continuing to support the scene here in Toronto.

When Ingrown stormed the stage, their insanely fast, heavy and intense hardcore sound came blasting through the speakers. I immediately notice drummer Dave Shaffer sporting a Bathory t-shirt, the album cover for Blood Fire Death proudly being displayed on his chest. This is one of the greatest metal albums of all time. Based on the drummer's taste, I knew the set was going to be great (and it was!). With very little interaction with the crowd, the band smashed through their set. We're off to a great start!

Blood Incantation

Blood Incantation performs live in Toronto, Canada. Photo Credit: Jay Broderick

Blood Incantation is a death metal band that was formed in 2011. Based out of Denver, Colorado the band consists of vocalist/guitarist Paul Riedl, guitarist Morris Kolontyrsky, bassist Jeff Barrett, and drummer Isaac Faulk. With 2 full length album releases to their credit, the band has been compared as a mix of Death, Morbid Angel and Domination.

I'm not always completely familiar with all the bands at all shows, so ahead of this one, a fellow photographer tells me that the band is quite mellow. It went against my vision, so I was prepared for a bit of a breather from the opening act. And boy, was she wrong! We joked about it after, but Blood Incantation was the furthest thing from mellow. It was during this set that the mosh pit and body surfing heated up. Riedl and Barrett were thrashing like crazy up on the stage and Faulk tore off his shirt 4 songs in. Blood Incantation kept up with their namesake, and disproved anybody who thought they weren't going to be worthy of a spot on this tour.


Immolation performs live at The Phoenix. Photo Credit: Jay Broderick

Although the first 2 acts set the stage beautifully, shit was about to get real. Death metal veterans Immolation were on the bill ahead of the headliners on this tour, but having been around since 1988, the band is well versed in kicking ass! Considered a major influence in the New York death metal scene, Immolation is kicking ass on the road, supporting their 2022 release Acts of God.

The band leads off their set with the opening track from their newest album "Abandoned". The short intro is followed up with the title track "An Act of God" and the band's ferocious energy immediately has the crowd in a frenzy. Guitarist Robert Vigna's unique guitar style and performance immediately draws my attention, as he's completely engaged.

3 songs in, lead singer and bass guitarist Ross Dolan takes a minute to ask the fans how they're doing and thanks them for coming out on a Sunday night, and then challenges them to "Make some noise". With this, the mosh pit gets bigger and bigger. Those who do not want to participate are pushed out to the sides as the dancing and the energy intensifies.

Towards the end of the band's set, ahead of their 9th track "Under the Supreme", Dolan dedicates the song to a guy they used to play with when the friend was in the band Brutal Truth. They sent the song out to legendary Nuclear Assault bassist Danny Lilker, and with that, Lilker runs out onto the stage, salutes the crowd, and descends back. Although extremely brief, it was very cool to see Lilker in the house, and an amazing set by Immolation.


Obituary perform live in Toronto, Canada. Photo Credit: Jay Broderick

A backdrop, with red letters spelling out the band's logo. The lights are down, green smoke fills the stage and 4 band members appear in front of us. They start into the opening track "Redneck Stomp". The sound is amazing. The band is tight as hell, and the brooding beat of the opening track has the crowd pumped. After the instrumental opening, vocalist John Tardy appears. The smoke continues to billow out of the stage as the band transitions into "Sentence Day". The crowd goes completely out of their minds.

The energy is so intense to start Obituary's set, that after the second track "Sentence Day", Tardy is spent! He stops for a breath as the band continues into "A Lesson In Vengeance". At this moment, the crowd is completely out of their minds, as a vast waterfall of bodies streams over the security barricade. Drummer Donald Tardy loses his shirt as the Blood Incantation drummer did a couple bands earlier and the energy seems unmatchable.

John Tardy of Obituary performs live in Toronto. Photo Credit: Jay Broderick

After the 4th track, the simple "OBITUARY" backdrop falls, to reveal the cover art of the band's most recent album Dying of Everything. With this, they go into new track "The Wrong Time". The smoke adds a moody atmosphere, and the band sounds amazing. I've seen a few shows recently that I found a tad too bass-ey, but not tonight. And the vocals are crisp and clean. It sounds so good, that I have a hard time believing that these guys have been around over 3 decades. They have definitely brought their A-Game to Toronto.

As the band's set nears its end, they play another track from their newest album called "My Will To Live". The song is so fucking heavy. Every single fan in the house is banging their head in unison to the beat, and half of the floor is moshing. The track has such a great hook, that I'm following suit with the rest of the hordes. It's a reminder of why we love this stuff. With the band's history, they've still got a ton of power behind their music and vocally, John Tardy is still growling his magic.

Obituary performs live at The Phoenix Concert Theatre. Photo Credit: Jay Broderick

After Obituary's last song of the set, "Chopped In Half/Turned Inside Out", the lights go out and the band exits the stage. Despite the debate of 'encore or no encore', one thing is distinctly clear. I have never seen a crowd who didn't want one more. And true to form, the crowd starts their chant of "We want more! We want more! We want more!" And then the sound of machine gun fire. Strobe lights flash. Helicopter's rumble. The band then hits the stage again with "War". A body surfer heads toward the stage, beer in hand, and not a drop spilled. Good old Canadians!!!!

The 4 song encore treats us with a brief drum solo, Donald Tardy and guitarist Trevor Peres "cheers"ing the crowd with their cans of beer, and a challenge to the crowd to circle, like they've never circled before. In a final frenzy, for the last track "Slowly We Rot", the crowd obliges, and closes off one of the greatest performances I have ever witnessed. I am beyond amazed at the sound, and the spectacle that Obituary put on. They destroyed The Phoenix Concert Theatre, and I'm sad it's over... until next time!

Obituary performs live in Toronto, Canada. Photo Credit: Jay Broderick

Set List

Redneck Stomp

Sentence Day

A Lesson in Vengeance

Visions in My Head

The Wrong Time

Barely Alive

Slow Death

Find the Arise

Weaponize the Hate

My Will to Live

Chopped in Half / Turned Inside Out



Dying of Everything

I'm in Pain

Slowly We Rot

Photo Gallery

Obituary Online

Show Date: May 7, 2023


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