Obituary's 1990 album Cause Of Death is one of the landmark death metal releases of the time, and the band's only with guitarist James Murphy (Death, Testament, Disincarnate). Cause Of Death has that signature Obituary Floridian death metal trudging stomp to it, though guitarist Trevor Peres tells Heavy the album almost didn't come out that way.
Peres said the scratch tracks for the album were recorded in E standard tuning, meaning the whole record would've been much higher-pitched. He said producer Scott Burns told the band to try tuning down to B standard (this gets confusing because Peres said it's a "whole step," but it's really two and a half), ultimately giving the record a much chuggier, low-tuned death metal feel.
"To sum it up real quick, basically, this album was the first album that we downtuned to B. The whole guitar being tuned down one whole step during the writing process, it was still tuned and written in E. When we were recording the album, all the scratch guitars were standard E 442 tuning. I went back in to do final guitar takes, [producer] Scott Burns, he asked me, 'Hey, you ever thought about downtuning to B? Like a whole step down, the whole guitar?' I was, like, 'No. Never thought about it. Never crossed my mind. I don't know. I never thought about it yet.' He goes, 'Why don't you try it? It might be even heavier.' I said, 'Okay.'"
I put on fresh strings and we intonated my guitar for B and I played it once through one song. He's, like, 'How does it feel?' 'It's cool, I guess.' Playing it didn't feel any different, sound any different until you recorded it. 'Okay, cool.' Ever since then, we've been tuned to B. Scott Burns gave me the suggestion to do that during the principle recording of Cause Of Death. It's pretty funny."
Check out the whole interview below, and catch Obituary on tour with Black Label Society in 2020.