Xecutioner's Return is the 7th full-length studio album by US, Florida based death metal act Obituary. The band switched to Candlelight Records which marks the first album release on another label than Roadrunner Records. Another big change is the departure of lead guitarist Allan West who was serving time after repeatedly being arrested for drinking and driving. His replacement Ralph Santolla came fresh out of a stint with Deicide, with whom he recorded The Stench of Redemption (2006) album with. Ralph Santolla has also played with acts such as Iced Earth, Death and Sebastian Bach & Friends among others.
The music on Xecutioner's Return is in typical Obituary style. Crushingly heavy yet groovy riffing and occasionally faster paced parts ( there are actually more faster paced songs on this album than usual). John Tardy sounds even meaner than he did on the last album. One of his best performances IMO. The production is dark and bass heavy. When I put Xecutioner's Return on in my car, my car speakers were almost destroyed. That´s how much bottom end there is on this album. The biggest change compared to the last couple of albums by Obituary is the addition of Ralph Santolla though. He boosts Obituary´s sound with his many excellent and varied guitar solos, just as he boosted Deicide´s sound on The Stench of Redemption. The man is very accomplished and his playing suits the music well. A brilliant decision to include him in the band. All songs are of high quality and it´s hard not to be very excited about this album.
I really enjoyed Frozen in Time (2005) but Xecutioner's Return is just a notch better and ranks among the best albums released by Obituary if you ask me. Xecutioner's Return is a great example of how vital and full of fierce energy Obituary are when they are at their best. A deserved 4 star rating. Close to a 4.5 star rating.