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I've been buried under the glistering summer heat, enjoying the calm spiritual death of my burning summer break of a chemistry student, being turned into a human craving for silence and sleep as a means of enjoying myself (that's also why university is not always the best idea). Then one day I woke up and passed around my Autopsy Severed Survival vinyl and thought 'maybe I should give it a spin'. Which proved a successful means of waking the beast from her eternal summer slumber. Then it lead to me listening to 'Macabre Eternal' as I remember how much I loved and praised it when it first came out. Oh, hooray, down-tuned guitars, ravaging soloing - a glimpse of clear air, finally!
What bums me most about death metal bands created in the new millennia is the way in which they decide to produce their records, absolutely minimalizing the human effort by using machines to do all their work. Don't get me wrong, I don't care whether you work more or less in the studio, I care about the final product, which is the music I am listening to and I definitely don't like my drumming crystal clear and my bass clean and shaved. Autopsy have definitely 'improved' a lot sound quality-wise from their early days. However, what is great sound and production in their case, does not ruin the spirit and smell of this package in the very least. You get straight, non cheesy and always as balled, down trodden death metal. Or maybe I should say 'doom death' if we're speaking about some of the songs. What's particularly enjoyable about this album is that is has everything your ears'd need - it has the fast, bludgeoning guitar solos, it has the doomier, slow-paced grim songs, it has everything and done in the finest way possible.
The songs themselves feel complete and actually contain some real meat - such diversity of riffs, astonishingly rude bass; when you have almost forgotten that bands used to record something in such a raw way - you get it - the bass is fucking there, it is audible! The most important ingredient in cooking your death metal. Then in the next song you get an acoustic guitar, a plethora of surprises and all of them are good. Just when you think you're hearing the beats of the dead in a slow and grim manner, the next songs throws you at a completely different situation - suddenly you'd be floating in the rives of the underworld hearing a serene chorus. God, I love this album, in its longest and shortest tracks, just the same.
When I am listening to this album I feel like I hold a diamond that I could put in a secret vault and get it out when I really need it. There are very few bands in the world that would produce something with such a high quality these days. It's as if I am listening to the Repulsion demos again but with a much more enjoyable sound and it's not a hundred years ago. There are some albums - whatever you say, you won't to them justice until you finally hear the material and this is one of them.
Originally written for: http://sixthfromthesun.blogspot.com/
Let me start this review by saying that when it comes to death metal I am all about the old school. I've always preferred the older and dirtier death metal to the more modern over produced technical guitar masturbation that is called death metal now. Don't get me wrong I like some of the newer stuff and appreciate the talent it takes to write and play in these bands, but its not the same and most of it is not for me. When it came to some of the older bands releasing new albums in recent times, bands like Morbid Angel, Pestilence, Atheist and such, I wasn't very impressed and in the case of Pestilence's two newest albums actually a little repulsed(not the good repulsed I get from listening to Autopsy). So when I heard Autopsy released a new album I wasn't really expecting much. Maybe a slight nod to the past but nothing too special and probably something akin to Shitfun. Well wasn't I pleasantly surprised.
Not only was the album not bad, it was actually very good. Sometimes change is good, sometimes its for the better but not always. In the case of Autopsy I'm glad there wasn't much change. Sure the production values were a bit better than Mental Funeral and Severed Survival but it still retained that signature Autopsy sound, those gory lyrics and ridiculous track titles. I think part of the fun of listening to a band like Autopsy is the lyrics. To read them aloud to a non Autopsy fan you'd get a reaction similar to someone telling their homophobic dad they were homosexual. Horror, disgust, disdain and a disappointment in you for liking such evil things. But to me the lyrics are goofy, dark, humourous and nothing more, it brings a certain sense of fun and ridiculousness to death metal that I think is missing these days. The genre takes itself too serious at times and it takes a band like Autopsy to inject some B-movie horror lyrics and silliness into the equation.
The musicianship on this album is particularly impressive on the eleven minute epic Sadistic Gratification. The typical doom/death Autopsy sound is evident throughout but mixed in is very good guitar solo, excellent intro and one of the most epic outro's in death metal history. The foreboding melodic guitar mixed with the the thoughts of the serial killer and the screams of the woman make for an excellent and frankly disturbing outro. I think its probably the most mature song on the album and maybe in Autopsy's discography. Its blended together in a way that tells a story rather than just another song about gore and murder.
On the other end of the scale the song Dirty Gore Whore is one of the more ridiculous and goofy songs on the album. Its very much an Autopsy song done in a very Autopsy way. With the lyrics "Kill You, Rape You" being repeated over and over only cementing that feeling of "awww good to have Autopsy back". Sure this song won't win them any fans from feminists but if anyone takes this band too seriously they need to get their head checked. The vocals throughout this album change often, low gurgles to screaming. There's an impressive range throughout but might not be appreciated by most fans.
This album is a must have for Autopsy fans, its fun, ridiculous, silly, gory, sludgy, aggressive and raw. Everything you expect from the masters of gore. Reifert and the crew really outdid themselves on this record. They brought back a part of death metal thats been missing for a long time, not only did they revive a band thats been under rated for too long but they brought back a style of death metal thats been on a hiatus for too long. Just because I used words like goofy, silly and fun throughout this review doesn't mean this isn't a heavy brutal riff filled death metal, it is. Its worth your time if you're into the old school sound so go buy it now.
Stubborness can sometimes be a positive thing. Especially when combined with a bald head and two eyes shining in a twisted way, it can produce small miracles. Chris Reifert & Co., for more than 20 years after their introduction to us, don’t care about any trend nor have they any intention to reinvent the wheel. All they seek is to make it clear why this fuckin’ sound was named DEATH metal in the first place and -damn it!- they do it so brilliantly that it’s almost impossible to resist.
With “Macabre Eternal”, Autopsy continue from the point they stopped in last year’s “Tomb Within” EP and, essentially, from the point from where they never left during their twenty-four year career. Which means, that rotten mix of muddy riffing, twisted Slayer & Motorhead and crawling doom (by the way what a great band Goatlord were!), forged with the proper (small) amount of punk hooliganism. But what causes some surprise is the awesome integrity and inspiration enshrouding their compositions. To be exact, not a single track from the total twelve of this record’s can be counted as inferior to the rest.
Most fans will keep the 11-minute opus “Sadistic Gratification” as the reference point; I’ll tell you that it actually constitutes a synopsis of all the freaky stuff present in the album. Like the accelerated “Dirty Gore Whore”, or the “Seeds Of The Doomed” with its creepy doom/death guitar leads (anyone remember the intro in Paradise Lost’s “Eternal”?), the four-minute “Born Undead” that gradually stagnates until it explodes with maniac soloing and -above all maybe- the ultra-heavy “Sewn Into One” which sends back to kindergarten all those kids that throw 3 or 4 “technical” riffs and some triggered drums and call this shit death metal.
If Mitochondrion, Dead Congregation and the rest Ulcerates of this death metal world, are the scouts that rush to its four corners seeking new borders and unexplored paths, Autopsy (along with other legends) are the solid part of the base where everyone returns to report and receive new guidelines. Welcome putrescence. Again!
Originally written for:
Many bands make the claim that their next release will be their "biggest, baddest, and heaviest yet", or that the band is "going back to their roots". Such assertions are typically followed by a massive injection of cancer into their music. One can infer that the similar claims made by American death-metallers Autopsy were alarming to some of their fans. However, instead of recording an album full of awful death metal/dance music hybrid tracks or shouting something about being a table like some of their cohorts, Chris Reifert and company have actually delivered. "Macabre Eternal" features some of Autopsy's best tracks since 1992's "Mental Funeral".
While this album may not be their best, it's very old-school sounding and reminiscent of early Autopsy. If the front cover doesn't make one a believer, then all doubts of another boring, Shitfun-style album are wiped away about 20 seconds into the first track. The main riff sounds very similar to that of the classic "Charred Remains", indicating that the band really did wish to go back to the sound present on their first two releases. Rest assured, the minute-long songs about pooping on graves and such are gone. They have been replaced with filthy, primitive, doom-ridden death metal tracks that are sure to please fans of the early era. The lyrics are quite reflective of those on "Severed Survival". Guitars plug along with riffs that sound like they've been ripped straight from 1989. Mr. Reifert's drumming is outstanding as always. Autopsy are not only back, but they're back to sounding like classic Autopsy.
If there is any worry that the band has simply copied and pasted their first two albums here, fear not. While "Macabre Eternal" undeniably harkens back to those releases, there are plenty of things that distinguish it from them. This album doesn't seek to be a clone of "Mental Funeral", but rather to build upon it. The production job is raw enough to maintain the album's old-school flavor, but it's a bit cleaner than what Autopsy fans are used to hearing. Some consider this a flaw, but I personally don't have a problem with it. The production is somewhat clear, but it's not over-produced to the point where the music no longer sounds genuine. "Macabre Eternal" also features Autopsy's longest track yet, an eleven minute long opus entitled "Sadistic Gratification". This track is as close to death-doom as anything the band has ever recorded, and it sounds absolutely killer. There is also an acoustic section towards the end of "Bridge of Bones", which is something I would never have expected Autopsy to include in any of their material. It actually manages to add to the dark and gloomy atmosphere without sounding out of place. Enough fresh ideas are present on the album to indicate that the band is pushing themselves to write interesting music while still sounding old-school.
As pleased as I am with this release, it is not without its flaws. The album clocks in at over an hour long, which is just a bit too long for a death metal record. None of the tracks can really be considered "filler", but a couple of the weaker, less-memorable songs towards the middle of the album could have been omitted and placed on the upcoming "All Tomorrow's Funerals" compilation without any complaints from me. I also feel like some of the tracks could be rearranged in order for the album to flow better. "Macabre Eternal" sounds more like a collection of great tracks rather than a well-pieced album at times.
Despite the issues with track arrangement, Autopsy's latest release is very solid and recommended to anyone craving some rotten, old-school death metal. This is one of the better "comeback" albums I've heard. Any Autopsy fans who haven't picked this one up yet should first kick themselves for not doing so. Next, they should either head to their nearest record store and pick themselves up a copy.
Now that Morbid Angel's massive comeback failure is a matter of public record, everyone should be able to ignore it in favor of more interesting pursuits. It should boost the stock of sound-alikes Abysmal Dawn, labelmates Nader Sadek, and fellow old-schoolers Autopsy.
California's greatest death metal treasure came back with a well-received EP last year, making everyone froth at the mouth for the expected fifth full-length. And I can say with certainty that Macabre Eternal does not disappoint. Everything about this is old school, updated. It begins with excellent album art, which could be from 1991 were it less accomplished, and follows through with music that could be from the same year, only with a 2011 production. That is, the good kind, which is clear but not sterile.
You should know what Autopsy sounds like. Chris Reifert's vocals are the same as always, sounding almost like a parody of death growls. The music is the same mid-paced, atmospheric death metal as always, with plenty of great riffs and solos. Really, there's nothing they do wrong.
Maybe you heard that there were some strange things going on, but it's been overblown. Yes, the songs do tend a little longer, mostly in the 4 or 5 minute range instead of the 3 or 4 minute range, but that's not a big deal. Yes, there is an 11 minute song, but it's one of the best on here. And yes, technically, there are female vocals--but that description makes you think Celtic Frost. But she isn't singing. She sounds like she's being tortured, and begs for mercy. Macabre Eternal is still a snuff film. It's just that now, it's in high definition.
The Verdict: Autopsy brings the salvation of the old school where others have failed epically. It's death metal circa 1991, but created with the tools of 2011.
originally written for http://fullmetalattorney.blogspot.com/
Au-motherfucking-topsy is back with another release, and I know for a fact that I am not the only one who was eagerly anticipating this album. This was definitely one of the most looked forward to metal albums of 2011 for me as I'm a big Autopsy fan. Their latest offering "Macabre Eternal" is very reminiscent of the more doom-y side that Autopsy portrayed on "Mental Funeral" but it still retains the heaviness and catchiness that we all love of Autopsy.
Let's start with the good shall we? The best tracks to be found here are the ones that mix that fast paced DM sound with the Doom parts to keep from just playing 200 mph the entire time. Songs like "Dirty Whore Gore," "Macabre Eternal," "Deliver Me From Sanity," and "Spill My Blood" are perfect examples of this. These four tracks are definitely the best on the album and they all mix the two sounds very well. Some more good things about this album are the drums. The drumming itself is very good and is placed very well in the production mix for a great overall sound.
Some of the songs on this album were rather average, nothing too good but nothing bad. Songs like "Hand of Darkness," "Seeds of the Damned," "Bridge of Bones" and the 11 minute epic "Sadistic Gratification." These songs were all just short of being some of the more awesome tracks on the record either because they seemed to not be as catchy or were just lacking something special that gave it that "wow" factor like the other aforementioned tracks did.
Then of course we have the not so good... Let's start with the vocals in the mix. For some of the songs the vocals seemed to be low in the mix and not exactly matched up with the music, however this is just a minor problem that shouldn't take away any of the music's greatness. The main problem with this record was that some of the songs here just seemed to drag along and didn't have anything catchy about them. They would go into a heavy, slow, doom-ish part but they would be boring and you would be waiting for it to pick up but it wouldn't. Songs like "Born Undead," "Sewn Into One," and "Bludgeoned and Brained" all fall victim to this trend.
Overall I enjoyed this record and I will be giving it a few more listens to see if anything changes but in the meantime, Autopsy did not fail to deliver on this record as the goods outweighed the bads here, and allowed them to produce a very well put together album.
Many years I was 100% sure that Autopsy would never re-unite but sometimes miracles happen. The comeback isn't actually that amazing because the band had already released couple new songs on the re-issue of Severed Survival and EP The Tomb Within, but I'm quite sure that the most of the fans have waited for a new full-length.
I was really happy when I heard of this comeback even though their latest full-length Shitfun wasn't that good. The first two albums and partly The Acts of the Unspeakable were the real deal: brutal and gory death metal which has permanently left its mark in the minds of many metalheads. What does Autopsy sound in year 2011? Well, brutal and gory, of course! The sounds are a bit cleaner than on the couple first releases, but the band still has the skill to make really awesome death metal.
The opening tracks 'Hand of Darkness' and 'Dirty Gore Whore' are so brutal stuff that even the weaker tracks like 'Bridge of Bones' or 'Deliver Me from Insanity' can't kill this album. When Chris Reifert's dirty growls, simple but good riffs and good groove are present, the album won't fail in comparison to the first two albums. Only negative thing I have to say is that the album is too long. Still Autopsy sounds the same like before, but does anyone else get a feeling that the track 'Seeds of the Doomed' sounds like early Paradise Lost?
Too long or not, Reifert & Co. still know how to make true death metal. And when you are listening to this depressing clean modern day instrument-wanking "death" metal played by some student nerds, you know that the rotten and bruised corpse of death metal really needs an Autopsy.
Two bona fide death metal legends releasing (semi-)reformation albums at the same time? Why, this calls for a comparison!
When said two legends are Autopsy and Morbid Angel one would imagine the choice of who to review first would be hard to make, but, unless you've been living on Mars or/are reading the wrong review, the new 'Angel has not good down too well with their fanbase, so let's start with the more positive of the two shall we?
Autopsy's legendary status comes from their simple, no frills take on death metal that continues to this day with "Macabre Eternal" in what is about as good a record as anyone could have expected from a band out the game so long. These San Franciscans don't do triggered drumming or studio-perfected hyper-speed riffing, instead concentrating on playing the kind of 'blue-collar' rough and ready death metal no deathcore kid of today is ever likely to have heard of. When a band so rooted in a bygone age return to an entirely different musical climate, the dichotomy of adjusting their sound to fit the current climate or belligerently ignoring musical progress is a tough one to make, but "Macabre Eternal"'s greatest credit is how it manages to do both. As immediately evident in "Hand of Darkness" Autopsy circa 2011 is a crude and organic beast but an improved one on the filthy days of yore, a return to which may just have been a little too nostalgic for all but the die-hards to swallow.
Well-known for mixing mid-tempo death metal with primal, dirty doom Autopsy have always stood proud from most of their comrades, but their evidence is seen in countless others, notably the likes of Asphyx. The opening salvos here are much more of the death metal than doom variety, with "Seeds of the Doomed" being one of the first to drop the anchor on proceedings and “Sewn Into One” the standout classic example of it. "Dirty Gore Whore" and "Deliver Me From Sanity" batter away with incessant groove while the rest in "Bridge Of Bones", "Born Undead" and onwards are guaranteed to appeal to the senses of anyone who feel death metal needs a little more historical perspective amidst the arms race that continues to exist 25+ years after Autopsy helped birth the damned thing.
Chris Reifert on vocals/drums puts in the kind of commanding performance that could only be expected from old of THE eldest statesmen of death metal while all else perform as highly as could be expected. The issue of "Macabre Eternal" dragging on too long (it is 65 minutes) would be more worthy mention if each minute wasn't of such enjoyable quality. In what is to follow as an example of adjusting a sound way beyond accepted notions, Autopsy have done themselves proud with a thrilling return to life by sticking to what they do best - a best you could say is the perfect representation of death metal music.
Originally written for www.Rockfreaks.net
After being broken up for the better part of 15 years and reforming during an old school death metal resurgence, one could be forgiven for thinking Autopsy's return may have been motivated by some less than perfect reasons. At best, it could have been an urge to get out and have some fun with a scene at its most lively in years or just to give something to some long term loyal fans, or at worst it could be just to grab a little cash while the market is up. Fortunately Autopsy has surprisingly opted for neither of these options and has instead delivered a fresh, inspired and altogether new experience. Of course the old school sounds are here and comparisons to Severed Survival are extremely fair, but Macabre Eternal is not just a case of band wallowing in the good old days; Autopsy have incorporated a few new and even modern touches to the reliable formula of old school morbidity.
Despite being a huge fan of the doomy death metal bands that basically grew out of Autopsy and Autopsy alone, the band never actually did much for me. They were so murky they lacked raw power, they got a little dragged down with the whole sludgy vibe, the vocals slurred annoyingly and basically they lacked the excitement and verboseness of the brilliant bands which followed in their footsteps. So upon hearing of the return of the band my thoughts were more "Good for them" than "Holy shit! The earth is saved!", and expected a by the numbers, primitive, probably passable but underwhelming offering. Instead Autopsy has launched back into the scene with may be their most inspired release ever. Sure there is doomy and sludgy stuff a plenty and the fast stuff, and there is a lot of it by Autopsy standards, is very similar to Severed Survival, but this is a new beast. Firstly this is a faster, more energetic album, about half of the songs fly along at high tempos with frenzied riffing ripped straight out of 1989 and messy, hectic whammy bar soloing that is a wonderful call back to the early days too, it's less in style that Macabre Eternal sets itself apart here, it's more in quantity; Macabre Eternal is made up of a furious, high tempo style that the band hasn't relied on before.
To support this direction change the production is certainly clearer, it's not a modern sound by any means but it allows the intricate riffs and leads to be easily heard and enjoyed. Those hoping for a wall of muck will be disappointed but the scratchy reverb should hopefully deliver enough to avoid old fans turning away in disgust. The production really helps the other standout thing on this album too; the lead melodies. Many songs on here feature surprising bursts of clean but morbid melody, harkening back to the early Finnish scene with bands like Adramelech, or in a more recent example, Funebrarum's The Sleep of Morbid Dreams, this adds colour to the usual Autopsy formula without sacrificing any of the evil morbidity.
The final really notable thing going on here are the vocals, Chris Reifert and Eric Cutler tear their way through the entire book of vocal styles from back in the 80's to the most perfected growls of today, it is truly incredible. This right here is a demonstration on how to give variation to a death metal vocal performance without using the now clichéd shriek/growl combo, there’s an old school hoarse shout, theatrical tortured howling, sinister and menacing snarls, deranged bellows and a good old fashioned death growl in there to top it all off. The variation is incredible without needing to resort to huge contrasts, while not all styles appeal to me, just as they didn't back in 1991, they sheer insanity of everything coming at once is hard not to be enamoured by.
So, it has all the positives of the old albums and manages to spice it up to keep it fresh for the modern short attention spanned man, then tops it off with some of the most refreshing and unique soloing you'll hear these days, and then tops it off once more with a post-mortem rape it has a pair of vocalists losing their shit in the most divine way possible, how could this not be the best thing ever? In short it's way too long, and that’s about it for complaints. There are no total dragging filler tracks here, every single song has at least a minute or two which will rock the face off even the most jaded old school deathhead, but at least 6 of these songs pretty much only exist for that one or two minutes, and the rest of their duration is dull. You’ll never find yourself thinking “Why did they put that song on here”, instead you’ll find yourself wondering if a few songs really earn their spot in hindsight. Some of the songs aren't justified by their good parts, and when you've got a 70 minute album it's probably ok to shed 5 minutes of great stuff to remove 15 minutes of filler.
With that said that doesn't make this album not worthwhile, this is Autopsy with added some thrills and some totally rocking songs, the morbidity is lesser so if that was your main draw to the band, you might be let down, but as far as I'm concerned this is the best thing they've ever done. Pick this up and go shout horrible things at women on the street, you know you want to.
It was difficult to deliberate as to whether Macabre Eternal is more of a relief or a disappointment, but I'm settling for a little of each. Truly one of the single most anticipated offerings of the death metal genre in 2011, it's the first Autopsy long form in 16 years, or 19 if I can exclude Shitfun (and believe me, I'd love to). In the interim, the band's popularity has not only maintained, but seen an exponential increase. I'll be frank with you, there were not nearly enough folks singing this band's praise back in the late 80s, early 90s (I'm not sure if there was much comprehension or tolerance for Reifert's cunning and crude aesthetics at that time), so it's been refreshing to see them come to life through the years, new generations lavishing praise upon their classics Severed Survival and Mental Funeral.
This is not necessarily the band's 'comeback', since they squeaked out a single and EP in the past few years, the latter of which built my own bloodied expectations to a fine froth. I'm happy to report that there are no redundancies here with either of those releases. Macabre Eternal is a brand new, full-length Autopsy with a number of strengths and weaknesses all unto itself. The artwork is stunning and appreciable (excepting perhaps the logo/title coloring), the production the most bold and bright of any of the band's works to date, and there's a renewed sense of creativity in the writing that I had not expected. Sure, there are nods here or there to the band's formative backlog, and this album thankfully abandons the sludgier, forgettable drivel they churned forth in the mid 90s, but I was surprised that it's no mere product of derivation. So, for instance, you might hear the early Sabbath meets early Death that you expect from the first two records and their moderately death/doom leanings, but even these slower manifestations possess much versatility.
Unfortunately, I found that there were treacherously few songs that truly stuck out to me as I kept listening through Macabre Eternal. "Dirty Gore Whore" is certainly counted among the winners, with its zippy and explosive verse guitars and its torn throat narrative. Fast paced, fluid and original, I enjoyed this from beginning to end, both the searing and wah-wah pedaled leads that transition into the jarring tension of the bridge. Also unexpected was the 11+ minute epic "Sadistic Gratification" which explores perhaps the widest contrasts and emotional range of any Autopsy tune to date. The slower, instrumental doom sequence that inaugurates this track is truly something to behold, culling back to the Retribution for the Dead material if it were more melodic and distinct, parsing from surprising tranquil bliss to jaw crushing force and then back again, once again in vocals that tell a story. I especially loved the trade off between the female screaming and the menacing mockery near the climax of the song (around 9:30 in).
Then there is the rest of the album, which, while 'good enough' never really settled in memory outside of a few scattered riffs. Straight, groovier death/doom pieces like "Always About to Die", "Sewn Into One" and "Seeds of the Doomed" rollick along with a rank, ritual effluvia, but they seemed rather predictable, while the bouncier "Born Undead" maintained its charismatic vocal slather at the expense of its rather mediocre notation. Others are more concentrated and complex, such as the accelerated miasma of "Deliver Me from Sanity" or "Hand of Darkness", with its Leprosy-like rhythm beneath the lead, but they still feel like they're missing that one, inspirational guitar that would force them over the top like their betters here. Perhaps the one constant of quality here is that of the vocals, vintage Reifert with perhaps a hint of influence from Necrophagia's Killjoy (not unwelcome).
The album is not nearly so menacing nor malevolent as Severed Survival and Mental Funeral, but then, that's from the perspective of one inundated with about 20 years of cloying and grisly death metal since hearing such cult fare, and certainly one could not expect their equivalent. However, Autopsy is a band I do turn to for the atmosphere they curry in spite of their lewd primacy, and I feel that in that department, it falls short of even Acts of the Unspeakable. This is more of a clean, theatrical Autopsy prepared to take all comers with a more brazen variety of their old school riffing, and also cite innovation where it can, but too often succumbing to a filler mentality amidst the better elements of the songwriting. A decent album, I think, but not quite measuring up to its preemptive tendrils of vaporous decay, the carrion cloud of cult comforts it drifted in on.
Mmmmmm.... This has to be the toughest review I have written. Autopsy, seminal death metal band, originally formed in 1987, and one of THE most influential extreme metal bands ever to exist, releasing a new album in 2011 having got back together in 2010 after being defunct for 15 years.
This reunion is a veritable wet dream for an Autopsy stalwart like me. I always loved the band’s disjointed and dirty, loose and uncomplicated (yet encompassing some very odd time changes and drum beats) and most importantly heavy style of death metal. Late 2010’s The Tomb Within was the initial taster of the new Autopsy, the band complete with all three original members – Chris Reifert (bona fide metal god), Eric Cutler and Danny Corrales. Bass on that EP and the album being reviewed is handled by Joe Trevisano (aka Joe Allan) of Von and Abscess. And what a superb EP that is – fast, heavy and filthy, very straightforward in most respects and utterly death metal. It was a terrific tempter for what was to come...
And now I have the new album Macabre Eternal and... I just can’t figure it out. Gone is the heavy, dirty sound of The Tomb Within and in comes a crystal clear production – the best Autopsy has ever had – and the heaviness is gone. Adam Munoz, who produced the EP has completely changed the sound. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t expect albums nowadays to be given a muddy production deliberately (except some ‘black metal’ albums) but the production has to fit the music and in my opinion this production is way too clean. This would have suited Death Magnetic – it is like an ...And Justice For All sound for death metal.
A detailed track by track review is not necessary here, but let’s touch on the salient points. The album kicks off with the scorching Hand Of Darkness – a full speed full-on death metal attack and a great track as an opener. Yet next track, Dirty Gore Whore, is a complete departure. It is still fast, it is still filthy, but it is TOTALLY different. In fact, if I had been played this and had to guess who it was I’d have said (pre-Dark Scary Tales) Macabre. The underlying riff and drumming is pure Macabre – frantic and insane. Reifert’s vocals, so heavy on the opening track, change to a crazy, deranged tone which is pure Corporate Death and... I’m not sure I like it. Autopsy’s later albums – Acts Of The Unspeakable, and especially Shitfun, are well known for being eclectic and eccentric, and Dirty Gore Whore takes this even further – it sounds crazy. Crucially – it sounds like Abscess.
Yes, Autopsy haven’t been able to completely separate themselves from their Abscess influences, and it’s not surprising considering how long Abscess was around for compared to the original Autopsy. It’s not necessarily bad but the start of this track does not sound like Autopsy. Nevertheless, at 1:14 the ‘rape you, kill you, rape you’ verse is as exhilarating as it gets, completely brutal and grotesque. The track continues in an almost Slayer-esque breakdown until it resurrects itself into the crazy finale.
Following tracks Always About To Die and the title track (complete with Retaliation-era Pete Steele scream) are both much more straightforward mixes of slow and fast and are good chunks of death metal. Indeed, it continues with Deliver Me To Insanity, a track much in the Mental Funeral vein but, dare I say, unremarkable...
And next is Seeds Of The Doomed, an all slow track which is in my opinion the best on the album. It contains something which has never been heard on an Autopsy album before – a melodic riff. And hell it works. This is a great track which pays homage to Sabbath and old Autopsy and is very, very good.
Next track is Bridge of Bones and the intro is, sadly, the first time we hear Trevisano’s bass on the album. Yes, track 7. Very disappointing. The track is slow and gloomy and unremarkable. But we are blasted away by following track Born Undead which kicks off like Bonesaw and just about manages to carry it through to the end.
Next track Sewn Into One passes by without touching the sides, just not interesting enough, and Bludgeoned And Brained passes by as well – a doomy number which leaves my brain intact and aching for some bludgeoning death metal. Sadistic Gratification follows and it begins with some introverted doom/goth passages which are beautifully played, however, the main body of the track is an uncomfortable mix of slow and up tempo with a riff that just about keeps me hooked but no more. The doomy passages continue and the track is resurrected but this really won’t be to a lot of people’s tastes. Neither will the extended sample of a poor female being tortured and killed for sadistic gratification – I’d love Tipper Gore to hear this. Possible highlight of the album.
Finally, Spill My Blood. It starts off classic Autopsy but fuck, the vocals – again Reifert doesn’t like Reifert and the vocal pattern and arrangement is insane, as is the music – it’s actually really fucking good but very challenging to listen to and way different from what most death metal ‘kids’ will be used to.
The album ends abruptly after a punishing 65 minutes (yes, this is too long – 40-45 minutes would have given the album way more punch) and still, after six listens, leaves me thinking ‘Mmmmmmm...’
I recommend this album because it showcases superb, raw musicianship from death metal legends who still have a huge amount to offer, but I also think it is a very ‘difficult’ listen, and it may not appeal to a lot of people who thought they were going to love it. Maybe I’m being harsh, the album still kills, but maybe not in the way I thought or hoped it would. The Tomb Within is a much better example of this legendary band’s latest material.
Autopsy’s back, baby! 2011 seems to be the year for bands I love to release new albums, what with Empyrium planning to release a new album this year as well. So, for those of you that don’t know, Autopsy is a classic death metal band from the late 80s formed by Death drummer Chris Reifert. They released at least two great, furious death albums in the late 80s and early 90s (I say at least two because I have yet to hear Acts or Shitfun), and after a 15-year hiatus began to write songs again. And I was ready from the first time I heard the news—ready to eat up whatever this band put out in the hopes that they would release another great piece of meaty, gurgly death metal.
I liked their 2010 EP, The Tomb Within, quite a bit, and figured it to be a good indicator for what was to come. Now I know that the EP wasn’t even close to what was going to come out—Macabre Eternal. This new full-length easily eclipses The Tomb Within, giving us not only well-executed and creative death metal but an hour-long album that presents us with oodles of technicality and dark, brooding atmosphere.
For me, death metal isn’t huge. Not often do I come off from listening from a death metal album without feeling at least a little bored. Autopsy has always brought a much higher standard for me, and I think they’re the only death metal band out there that could write an hour-long album and not have it come off as boring. And to have a band reform after a 15-year hiatus and still manage to pull it off is pretty outstanding, especially when said album is so adventurous. Unlike most bands that reform just for the shits and giggles or a few extra dollars, I really get the sense that this band reformed solely to make something new under the Autopsy name. Nothing feels rehashed or gimmicky—it all feels totally fresh and there are a lot of elements here that Autopsy didn’t use before (an acoustic section in Bridge of Bones, plenty of groovy riffs, an 11-minute epic), yet the ugly and dirty sound of Autopsy persists. The songs are longer and much more structured, and a lot of the music really flows into the next moment smoothly, despite the music being so heavy.
There’s a lot of variation in the tone and pace of the songs too—Hand of Darkness starts our album off with explosive riffing and maniacal vocals, while Sewn into One has a foreboding doominess that almost outdoes the sludgy doom of Mental Funeral. Bridge of Bones has a much creepier chilling tone, especially with such a haunting acoustic interlude that gives the song a huge sense of dimension.
The production, while relatively clean, doesn’t quite reach the ‘sterile’ definition that a lot of us have come to know from modern death/deathcore bands like Suicide Silence or Job for a Cowboy. There’s still some grit left over to give Autopsy their signature sludgy/mucky sound, and there's a lot of crunch and kick, electrifying the air around the music.
All of the instruments are in full form here. The guitars belt out riff after infectious riff, some surprisingly technical (opening riff from Dirty Gore Whore; Bludgeoned and Brained) and swirling between melody and brutality with relative ease. There are memorable riffs laced all over the place, twisting and spindling their way through the song like bursting veins. Every song has plenty of standout guitar moments. The solos for the most part sound like Eric Cutler and Danny Coralles are having epileptic seizures—they come seemingly from nowhere, sporadic and sloppy, raping the fretboard harder than the girl in the lyrics to ‘Dirty Gore Whore’, and then stop before you know what hit you. These solos are pretty much old-hat for Autopsy and other death metal bands, so there are some more structured solos—the later solo in Dirty Gore Whore, or the solo of Sadistic Gratification, so there’s some variety with the solos as well.
Chris Reifert, vocalist and drummer, is pretty great here. I admit that I was skeptical about his voice on The Tomb Within EP, feeling it was going a little feeble, not quite able to give the wide range that he could give on Severed Survival or Mental Funeral. But Chris has found his niche in becoming an old fart—he’s adapted his vocal style to something where he can handle the duties of lead vocalist. He’s monstrous here, as animalistic as he ever was, but he’s quite different from what you would hear in the early years. I find he can do a much lower growl this time around, with plenty of sludge in his voice that sounds like he’s talking around a mouthful of dirt, mud and shit. Yeah, pretty brutal alright. There’s also a range of moans, groans, and yelps he does (the chorus of Deliver me from Sanity), and it sounds totally deranged. As far as his great shrieks go, he can still do them pretty much perfectly, delivering all of the power and testosterone-fueled rage that he could do before (just listen to that opening wail in Macabre Eternal—it’s a thing of beauty). Reifert’s voice will not disappoint on this album, and he once again proves that he’s one of the top death growlers out there, despite the walker and the false teeth. You can also understand a lot of what he’s saying, unlike in Severed Survival where he slurs all his words together. I kinda miss that, but it’s nice being able to hear such choice lyrics:
“Your tears go silent in this place/Blood tears and cum covers your face
One big slash across your chest/Blood splatters from breast to breast
I’ll carve you a new fuckhole/And chain you to my toilet bowl
Won’t kill you, but you’ll wish you were dead/Keep you as my Dirty Gore Whore instead.”
It’s funny, but I’ve begun to picture the vocalist here as the zombie on the album artwork—the one near the bottom right corner who seems to be shrieking at the zombies carrying the giant skull.
As far as Reifert’s drumming goes, it’s still great; Tons of fills, stylish beat-keeping, and a fair use of all the drums in the kit. He may use the snare a bit too much at times, but he doesn’t do it enough to make the music suffer. It all holds up pretty well, and it’s definitely some great drumming. Too bad I’m not a drummer myself, or I could get into more detail on how well-done they are.
The bass is lout and gnarly, and it has a few moments where it comes out front to play slow, doomy solos, like in the intro/halfway point in Sadistic Gratification and in the song Bludgeoned and Brained.
Then there’s the 11-minute track, Sadistic Gratification. Wow, did this song ever impress me. I have to say I wasn’t sure how Autopsy would ever pull off writing an 11-minute track when the longest they’ve ever written previously was just over 6 minutes (Hole in the Head from Mental Funeral), and even that one seemed to drag a little bit. But this is a very well-written song, and it’s full of great doomy riffing mixed with all-out thrashing. It’s structured to be an epic track, starting with a low, grimy bass intro that is soon accompanied by a winding guitar riff that transitions into a short pause before kicking up the pace and giving us some more wild riffs. As the song progresses the riffs get more involved and confrontational, and there plenty of hooks to satisfy any metalhead, death metal fan or not. The flow of the song for the most part flows like water, consistently churning and bubbling like boiling blood. The theme of the song (torturing someone for information) and it’s gruesome details are hammered home by the tortured screams that play over a slow, sludgy, ominous chord progression. They sent shivers down my back, and they push the song into new territory. The woman sounds like she’s at some point between death and orgasm, but it sounds incredibly freaky paired with the rest of the music, especially when you can listen to the lyrics so you know exactly what’s being done to her.
The only part in the song where the pace is sort of lost is when there’s a pause that’s followed by the rehashing of the bass intro. I find this to be just a tad self-indulgent, but I guess if you’re following along with the lyrics it kinda fits with the song (it comes in just a little bit before the point where Chris starts whispering to the person being tortured, and the screaming begins shortly afterward). The song ends after the 11 minutes, and I’m left feeling totally ecstatic, thinking the album must be over. What else could top a song like that, right?
Well, it turns out there’s one more song—Spill my Blood. If there was anything to be skeptical about in this album it’d be this. After hearing the epic that was Sadistic Gratification, I don’t feel like I need to hear another song; the album should’ve ended there. Instead we get Spill my Blood, which is a balls-out thrasher for half the song, and a slow droner for the latter half. I wish this song had been placed somewhere else on the album, because it really does kinda wreck the atmosphere that Sadistic Gratification presented. I don’t understand why it’s even there, but whatever. It is still a nice song, so I guess no serious harm done.
Before I close, just for the hell of it I want to talk about the album cover. I'm really just rambling here, so feel free to take this with a grain of salt. Anyway, I wasn’t really fond of the album artwork at first, but it really is an interesting piece, and it directly relates to the title of the album. We see two zombies dragging a giant stone skull across a ravaged land of other corpses. Behind them are other zombies that look like they’ve carried the skull as well, and then I notice that the right side of the album art features a giant monolithic grim reaper—with a missing skull. The zombies appear to be dragging the skull away from the statue (if you look at the way the two zombies are holding it you can make out the direction it’s being carried). It’s almost as if they’re trying to discredit death, trying to get rid of it, trying to sweep it under the rug. At this point I look back at all the dead zombies, who may have died because of carrying the skull, or attempting to detach it from death. The album cover might be saying that even though we try to do away with death to prevent it from happening (anti-war, raising money for curing diseases, etc) it’s still all around and part of a cycle. The zombies die in the process of doing away with death, like soldiers in an unwinnable war. I guess the main point is that Macabre is Eternal—it’s always a part of our nature.
...Or maybe I’m breathing way too much into this whole thing. I think I’d prefer the cover if it had tones of red and yellow rather than blue and green, but anyway. Macabre Eternal is a great death metal album, and a great Autopsy album. It progresses the band forward dramatically, which leads me to believe there may be more Autopsy releases in the near future (fingers crossed). I was highly impressed with this album, and I think it could be the death metal album of the year. If you haven’t heard this album yet, go out and get it, because you won’t regret it. Or if you’re too afraid of wasting money on an album you don’t like, sample a few songs. Songs I’d recommend would be Dirty Gore Whore, Bridge of Bones and of course, Sadistic Gratification, although you couldn’t go wrong listening to any of the tracks here. A very solid album, and I eagerly await more from Autopsy.