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Having no love for Peaceville's worthless 2001 Autopsy compilation Torn from the Grave, it was only natural that I might approach All Tomorrow's Funerals with some trepidation. With its grim spin on a popular Velvet Underground song title and a shit ton of familiar looking tracks, I wasn't expecting much value, but thankfully the band itself had a heavy involvement in remastering much of its content, and saw fit to include a few unreleased tracks to bolster its worth to long-term fans who possess the original incarnations of the studio material and weren't exactly begging for a re-issue.
Essentially, the band have reprinted and remastered all of their short form EP releases down through the years, an obvious boon targeted at younger fans who might have difficulty in tracking down the original copies without paying exorbitant prices on auctions or in specialty record shops. They're placed on the disk in a reverse chronological order covering roughly tracks 5-21, so The Tomb Within (2010) is followed by Fiend for Blood (1992) and Retribution for the Dead (1991). Having already covered these releases individually, I will say that I got a lot more out of the Fiend material than anything else in its new format, which sounds a little cleaner while losing little of its repulsive, thick and frivolous Steve DiGiorgio bass or the ghastly, loose-structured sense of fun that it originally conveyed. More interesting by far was the inclusion of the two tracks from the Horrific Obsession single, recorded in 2008 and released early the following year.
As I missed this pair the first time around, I found them a bit of a thrill here, wedged between The Tomb Within and Fiend for Blood. "Horrific Obsession" itself is a crude, bludgeoning gutter-death track with sludgy, pumping bass lines and Reifert's caustic throat dominating the action; "Feast of the Graveworm" one of the best songs I've heard from the band since the first two albums, with freak melodies and grimy, primordial tremolo rhythms that blaze into an excellent, wild breakdown groove beneath the lead. Hell, if half of Macabre Eternal had been this bloody good it might have made my short list for the end of 2011. They've also included a final remastered version of the track "Mauled to Death", which had appeared on their 1987 demo and seen a few re-issues on the comps Awakened by Gore and Ridden With Disease, but is rendered here with an appropriate, ghastly production that matches it to The Tomb Within material in tone, and it sounds absolutely great. "Funereality" from Acts of the Unspeakable has also been shoved into the lineup with a minor mastering facelift.
Even with the obvious love given to the older material, some will want to dive right into the new flesh, and I doubt they'll be disappointed. "All Tomorrow's Funerals" is fast and inspiring, with raw and spring coiled guitars that wend their tremolo hostility over one of Reifert's most abusive performances in history, transforming into a churning groan over the death/doom breakdown that will have all the old morgue crew slamming about their environment like restless, corpses. "Broken People" is nearly as fun, opening with a murderous, muddy charge, lead guitar ablaze and then a gradual devolution into an amazing death/doom bridge with steady, tribal drums that transition into a straight rock beat while the dual, solemn melodies cascade about the track's cavernous breadth akin to classic Paradise Lost circa 1990-'91. "Maggot Holes" has a further focus on the escalating percussion, with a lot of droning, drudging guitars and ringing higher strings that create a brutal hypnosis.
About the only 'new' track I couldn't give a shit for was the closing snippet "Sign of the Corpse", more or less an outro fadeout with some reversed guitars to mark its exit. Otherwise, the lion's share of the content here provides quite the rush, doubly so if you were not previously the owner of the various EPs. If you do, then the overall value of this compilation is slightly diminished. There is something special about experiencing Autopsy in its crude, lewd original form, so I can hardly dub the remasters mandatory, but the new songs are good, Horrific Obsession rules, the original covers are included for you to gaze upon, and it makes for a nice compliment to a collection of the full-length albums, whether you fancy the double vinyl or CD. In fact I feel All Tomorrow's Funerals is probably the best single compilation from the Californian creepers to date.
Autopsy are back from the grave, less than a year after their triumphant comeback album Macabre Eternal, to deliver some songs from yesteryear in a new coat of paint along with some new material.
Let me begin by saying that I normally don’t write reviews for compilations, so why am I writing this one then? Well, for starters, it’s Autopsy we’re talking about so it’s difficult to pass a chance of reviewing one of their records, whichever format it is. And then there’s the fact that this compilation comes packing with some new songs, alongside the oldies from 1987 onwards. Indeed this is a release of gigantic proportions as we see the band reaching as back as their first demo to re-record “Mauled To Death”, then travel along the nineties with EPs like Retribution For The Dead and Fiend For Blood, as well as reaching out for the compilation track “Funereality” and the two new songs that marked their return with the Horrific Obsession single. To finalize this onslaught of filthy tunes The Tomb Within EP from 2010 is also present for the pleasure of those who’ve seen it become sold out. So in total, 22 tracks, with three being new ones (well four actually if you account for the creepy outro “Sign Of The Corpse”), and a remastering work done on the old stuff to bring it closer to their recent streak of murders; all of this brought along with yet another marvelously sick piece of artwork from Mr. Matt Cavotta, which is proving to be quite prolific in these days.
Since the quality of the aforementioned past releases which are combined in this compilation is nowhere to be judged in this review, I’ll only give some small insight on the remastering done on them and leave further comments for the new songs. The first to appear is “Funereality” which sees the light of day with an added low end and more shimmering drum sound, particularly in the cymbals which are clearly improved. I remember listening to the Fiend For Blood EP on the reissue of their third album, and I also remember the pure rawness of those releases. Here its songs appear with a fuller sound, approaching more the one found on The Tomb Within, but still with a rawer edge. The bass work can now be heard in its full extent and that alone makes these tracks very compelling. As for their 1991 EP, Retribution For The Dead, the treatment given to it seems to be rather identical as the same traits are shown on its songs. An added fullness in the sound of the recording and some mud removed, none of which hinders the rawness of the original songs. Their latest EP, The Tomb Within, seems to be the only one left out of the remastering facelift because I can frankly say that I don’t hear any differences between the recordings here and my copy of it, so if they exist they’re pretty marginal. The same seems to be true for the two tracks recorded in late 2008, which apart from sounding a bit louder seem virtually unchanged.
As for the new material, there isn’t anything properly new as these songs follow in the same footsteps of the typical Autopsy sound. The title track shows a punkish display of aggression, slightly bringing Abscess to mind, while “Broken People” and “Maggot Holes” are two down-tempo pieces of sludgy death, with vigorous guitar leads to be found on the first. The re-recording of “Mauled To Death”, a 25-years old song, comes at a great time and shows the strength displayed early on by this legendary band. Bear in mind that this song was originally recorded in the same year as Scream Bloody Gore, so when listening to its clearly defined death metal sound with doomy passages you can see how far ahead of their time Chris Reifert and company have always been. A wonderfully rotten display of quality songwriting that could beat anything done today with much ease and a wonderful addition to this compilation.
One problem that normally arises with compilation albums is the lack of volume normalization between the different releases presented on them. You know, the difference in the master volume between each of them, that if isn’t normalized makes up for you turning the volume up and down during the span of its playing to adjust with each individual release’s volume. Gladly that doesn’t happen here and All Tomorrow’s Funeral’s has a constant volume level that evades these trappings usually brought by compilations.
If I were to judge this compilation based on the new material alone I wouldn’t rate it very high. Sure thing that more Autopsy songs are always welcomed, but the ones here don’t pack the same punch as the band has used us to, and instead seem more like a treat to the fans which is quite welcomed anyway. But since this release has more to be judged than the new stuff I can’t but rate it very highly as this is a mandatory purchase to any fan of Autopsy or death metal in general. The sole amount of legendary releases and sheer display of rotting songwriting that’s been going on for 25 years is enough for me to recommend this to both longtime fans and newcomers, and the later ones may find in this record a comfortable place to begin their trip to the cemetery and unveil the fabric of one of the most legendary bands ever in the metal spectrum.
Originally written for and posted at Riff Magazine