Obituary is one of the pioneering bands of the death metal genre. Founded as Executioner in Seffner, Florida in 1984, they soon dropped the "E" from their name after discovering another band of the same name, becoming Xecutioner. The band's first lineup was composed of John Tardy (vocals), Donald Tardy (drums), Trevor Peres (rhythm guitar), Jerome Grable (bass), & Jerry Tidwell (lead guitar). The band released demos in 1985, 1986, and 1987, (the 1985 demo as Executioner and the 1986 and 1987 demos as Xecutioner). They made their vinyl debut in 1987 with two tracks ("Find the Arise" and "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 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 (during W.K.'s appearance on Saturday Night Live Tardy wore an Obituary shirt). 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. Since 2012, the band have been highly involved with the promotion of a new social networking site called Unation, as well as Donald Tardy beginning a Cat Sanctuary organization called Metal Meowlisha, an organization practicing "trap-neuter-vaccinate-return", and caring for 25 cat colonies (200 cats).
In April 2010, Obituary began work on new material for their ninth studio album Inked in Blood, which was not released until 2014. 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 October 18, 2015, former and longtime Obituary bassist Frank Watkins died from cancer.
On August 24, 2016, Obituary streamed a new song called "Loathe", a B-side to their then-upcoming single "Ten Thousand Ways to Die", which was released on October 21. The band released their self-titled tenth studio album on March 17, 2017. A month prior to its release, the band released a song called "No", which appeared on Decibel Magazine's flexi disc series.
In November and December 2018, Obituary embarked on a European tour as part of Slayer's farewell tour, also featuring Lamb of God and Anthrax. When asked in a June 2018 interview about the next Obituary album, drummer Donald Tardy said, "We're always thinking about new songs and writing riffs and this and that. But at this time of our lives and this time of the music industry… This new album has only been out for just over a year now, so we're in no hurry to try and push another album out of us as quick as we can; there's no sense."