In probably the most anticipated (and eagerly awaited) reunion in death metal history, Obituary returned to the stage in the shithole where it all began: Tampa, Florida. Forget every band that played the weekend’s Sun N’ Steel Festival. This was the one. Obituary. The band that authored some of the genre’s finest and most unforgettable records: Slowly We Rot, Cause of Death, The End Complete…a heaving, belching nauseously heavy sound that some have tried to duplicate and none have or ever will replicate. Cut to March 7, 2004. The Obituary banner is hanging – the old Michael Whelan scrims from the Cause of Death era flank the stage and the anticipation is as thick as the Florida night air. When the band takes the stage, breaking into (appropriate enough) “Back From The Dead,” it’s like they’ve never left. In fact, with the exception of guitarist Allen West’s shaved head, the entire band looks exactly as they did a decade before. Most noticeably, monster-throated belcher John Tardy, replete with the same length blonde mane is charging around, ferociously overjoyed to be back. Now hirsute, Donald Tardy, fresh from providing the party beats for partymeister supreme, Andrew WK, isn’t missing a hit. Frank Watkins is still beating the crap out of his bass while West churns out searing lead after lead. And of course, Trevor Peres is a mass of hair surrounding his near-skeletal visage. Showing no signs of tire from an earlier set that evening with his other band, Catastrophic, Peres is still Obituary’s sickening riff-master general. Simply put, the boys are back to pulp, pulverize and probably do awful things to your intestines. Yes, Obituary are back, with more shows planned (including a set at New Jersey’s Metal Meltdown this coming weekend) and a new album in the works. Seven years later, songs like “Chopped In Half,” “Dying,” or the show’s closer “Slowly We Rot” sound as vital as ever. Apparently, there’s a handful of new Obie-tunage in the works that the band plans to record in the coming months. Yep, Obituary are back. As countless also-rans and newbies step to the plate, it’s clear who the masters of the genre still remain. Let’s face it, death metal needs Obituary now more than ever.