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Just as I feared would happen, Autopsy got above their station when conceiving their second album and follow up to the all-round enjoyable Severed Survival, trying to incorporate doom and prog rock moments into a confused, nightmarish mess of a sophomore. Good songs (all four of them) need to be teased out of the woodwork carefully instead of being apparent when the record started. The cover art sums this album up perfectly: loud, garish and confused.
In itself, that isn't good but even worse is the fact that there was definitely room to improve from SS, and the band could've made such a good record. They could've used longer structures to expand on ideas exhibited on the first album and MAYBE, maybe, flirted with more technicality. But no, the band must've taken lessons or something because they became hellbent on more prog. This progressivism rapes the album everywhere, the band taking the long winded route, but keeping the songs short so we are left with works of no real substance. Ironically, one of the most enjoyable moments on the album for me is "Hole in the Head", the only time that the band successfully melds prog rock and death metal, featuring a cool instrumental outro with *gasp* technical guitars.
Aside from "Hole in the Head" there are other, occasional good songs, but the trouble is that the Retribution for the Dead EP render this useless. The EP contains both "Destined to Fester" and "In the Grip of Winter" (great song), so we get two new good songs and a bunch of abortions. So what of these non-abortion tracks then? First up is "Twisted Mass of Burnt Decay", which doesn't fuck around with frilly prog. Nope, the thrilling sound of the Autopsy we know and love launches out of your speakers and grips you. It's an explosion of noise in the best possible way, an exhilarating way, and such misleading bullshit as a start to this album. And then we have "In the Grip of Winter", showcasing the band messing around with doom, and then nothing of interest until tracks 8 and 9.
That's where the fun ends, though. The first noticeable issue, aside from the terrible artwork which the band were right in their initial dislike of and should've commissioned something better, are the irksome short tracks. There's the moderately interesting title track, which I do believe is a pretty sweet acoustic closer, but other than that they're just unnecessary, breaking up the pace which I'd need to be more interested in this album. I have particular beef with "Fleshcrawl", since it denotes the point at which this album falls off a cliff and also the track that introduces "Dark Crusade". I can't really point out specific songs because aside from the ones I like I can't remember any of them, they just all blend into one lo-fi 90s death metal misfire. I do vaguely remember one Eric Cutler song which sounded about as original as a track by Drake, but that's about it.
Scratch that, I can talk about one song, a song which many an overenthusiastic death metal fan has played me expecting me to instantly love it. Well its name is "Dark Crusade", and I don't love it, I fucking loathe it. Let me break it down for you: an unimaginative riff which doesn't draw you in at all leads to some stock drumming and Chris Reifert's indistinct belch sounding somehow worse here than on any other song. A slow, faintly interesting bridge/breakdown leads back to the same old shit as a finale, then the album;s done pretty much. And this is played at most Autopsy shows, and the fans go mad for it for some reason. It's such a poor song that it required its own paragraph. That is the strength of my distaste.
Finally, I suppose this is listenable, after all it's only 38 minutes, but it isn't recommended. I understand that this is allegedly a legendary death metal album but if you want quality death metal and quality Autopsy then listen to the debut, or any other earlier release. This is good to visit the occasional song but as an album it leaves a rather sour taste on the tongue.
After releasing their debut, Autopsy seemed to have reached their prime rather quickly. Proving all wrong with the release of their sophomore album, "Mental Funeral", in 1991. Building on the underlined doom influences of the previous album, Autopsy takes their music in a new and refreshing direction and creating one of the finest doom/death albums out there. Containing crushing doom riffs packed with sorrow and dread, as well as fantastic drumming that really puts the depression in your face, and not to forget the festering vocals that echo throughout this mature and masterly album to put together a doom/death masterpiece.
After putting this record on the first thing that hits you is a monstrous scream from drummer/vocalist Chris Reifert that slams you in the face. Reifert's vocals take a dramatic turn from the previous LP, into a more deeper, guttural approach than the previous record.. This new style is perfect for this doom style on this record. "In the Grip of Winter" has a great vocal opening and a terrifying tortuous slow break in the middle. "Torn from the Womb" has a great echoing multi-voice part that sounds like it was being recorded in a murky cave and supplied from the monster from the album cover. Other than slows this album has a great deal of murderous screams like tracks such as "Dead" and "Slaughterday". These screams give the album some variety and amazing atmosphere. The lyrical content is typical death metal material focusing on death, torture and sadness. It isn't really anything special but brings along some great vocal lines on "Twisted Mass of Burnt Decay and "In the Grip of Winter". All in all the vocals make this album what it is and really drive the doom/death direction home.
Along with Reifert's great vocal delivery he really shows his skill behind the kit. Playing amazing rolls like that on, "Slaughterday", "Dead", and "Bonesaw". His kit has a great natural tone to it that I really adore, and is probably the best sounding kit I've heard in death metal. Reifert can also keep a great beat and allow the rotting atmosphere to build on tracks like, "Robbing the Grave" and "Torn from the Womb". Overall he supplied an amazing display of skill and along with his drum tone it really makes this album's atmosphere depressing in a good way.
Steve Culter supplies bass on this record and does a good job. The bass is rather low on this record than I would like, but doesn't cause much of a problem when the focus is much more on guitar. Culter shines on some nice breaks on, "Torn from the Womb" and "Destined to Fester" that bring a dramatic suspense to the songs. The tone is great, very clean and floppy making for an overall reasonable tone and playing on this album.
Steve's brother Eric Cutler as well as Danny Coralles bring the heavy doom riffs for this record. The riffing is amazing on this album with songs like, "Dead", "Destined to Fester", and "Dark Crusade". Their tone is crushingly heavy but still being clean enough to make out what is being played which is a feature of this album that makes it so great. Other than riffs the solos are very fast and climactic. "Torn from the Womb" has a great tasteful solo in the vein of Slayer or Morbid Angel. Some clean moody clean guitar work is also present on the closing track, "Mental Funeral" which gives the album a great creepy ending that seems like something from a 80's horror flick. In the end the guitar work fits perfectly in the album and provides memorable riffs, spastic solos and even a few atmospheric melodic parts on the intro to, "Hole in the Head" and even slow melodic parts on "Torn from the Womb".
Displaying great doom riffs, and amazing vocals as well as fantastic drumming. "Mental Funeral" is one of the best albums in doom/death or death metal in general and is a must have for anyone looking to explore doom or death metal genres.
In 1991, a sound was beginning to take form. Death Metal was being developed for many previous, and the brutality was being stepped up a notch year after year. Where Autopsy's path took them was different, however. At the time, the general concept was to play faster, louder, and more brutal than any other band. Autopsy simply picked up where Severed Survival left off. Their own special brand of doom inspired death metal hits harder, heavier, and more sludgy than any other band in the time.
Severed Survival, although a classic in its own right, could not compare with the unrestrained (but intelligent) brutality of Mental Funeral. And that is exactly what the fans got: an intelligently patient album with raw overtones. Where Severed Survival lacked was track differentiation; upon first listen each track had many similar qualities to each other. Chris Reifert picked up on this immediately and launched Mental Funeral, where each track is its own brutal story. Each track is a separate entity, and damned good ones at that.
Now the music. Tracks are very different, yet all retain a doom-y nature to them. A song like "Twisted Mass of Burnt Decay" has a quicker punk aspect to them, but still bring much brutality. "Slaughterday", "In the Grip of Winter", and "Dead" are all very reminiscent to Black Sabbath and other doom influences. Other tracks take a combination of the two and bring a more modern death metal attitude to them. The lyrics are all terrifying and disgusting as any good death should be. The thing that drew me to this album was how unrestrained the music is, but also how patient it is. This album is highly recommended to anyone who jams out to Sabbath every now and then.
Favorite track: "Destined to Fester"
On April 22nd, 1991 the Antichrist was born. It was in the form of this monster and was the result of enough factors to make the album cover a photograph of this thing if it ever breathed life and took shape. It's a beautiful album, its like the Mozart of death metal with its varieties in tempo, atmosphere, and structure ever present. From the fast-paced and quickly performed "Twisted Mass of Burnt Decay" to the sludgy and doom-laden "Torn From the Womb", there's something for everyone. Not a single song sounds the same and everything is fluent, yet staccato. I've always felt whenever I listen to a death metal classic I feel some moments of the albums make them seem like one large song, or a compilation of really long songs separated into different tracks so that they seem different. I don't hear it on this and the result is great because there's never a dull moment in the album.
Now for some factors about the album that make it stand out above most death metal classics:
1. The sound engineering (everything about this album's sound engineering is amazing: the balance of treble, mid, and bass on the guitars, the pungent sound of the bass, the minimalist [and by that I mean lack of 100% focus on the snare and kick-drums] focus on the drums which are still audible but don't dominate the sound like most drums do)
2. The flow of the drums (the rolls and blasts on the kit are fluent, powerful, and more human than mechanical. Reifert doesn't just have that constant style of drumming people tend to make their signature and his variety is in a way his own signature. It's like a mix of classic rock with jazz and death metal. Very neat)
3. The variety of riffs (doom, death, groove, blues, classic rock, as mentioned before the variety makes the spice of this album. You'll find more than a chug-a-thon or a horse race [galloping type riffs in the vein of Entombed and Unleashed] on this album. The "your move" style soloing also adds some fun to the album, as Coralles and Cutler share solo moments like a 90s RPG and finish with a bang every time)
4. Reifert's vocals (his range is inhuman, going from a rotten grunt to a shriek in a matter of milliseconds. And it's not only impressive that he has this range, but that he does both very well. He really adds atmosphere to the songs, especially in moments like "In The Grip of Winter" and "Hole In The Head". Easily makes some of the top moments on the album.)
Do not question this album, buy it on vinyl, let it melt into your soul.
Anthropological, metallurgical studies can often reveal interesting traits that slipped through my attention, and one of these is to observe trends within particular movements and scenes. To that extent, I have to credit Californians Autopsy for their predilection towards some of the most lewd, disgusting death metal in history, well in advance of the present tendencies. Here in the 21st century, it's become 'cool' again to delve into the primitive extremity minus the technical wizardry in which the 'other half' live, but Chris Reifert and his troupe had already decided on this path 20 years ago to date. Mental Funeral leans in a wholly opposite direction to artists like Pestilence or Death, whose goals were to transcend the brutality of their roots, or transport them on a generational starship into the unknown.
Both were noble enough ambitions, and Autopsy clearly succeeded in their own. Mental Funeral is a grisly incantation of carnal death and doom that marks the pinnacle of their career, and while it's perhaps not the most perfect of albums I've heard, it's consistent with the debut while at the same time surpassing it. Once again, the guitar tone is incredible, feeling as if it was hewn from the same wood as the axe of a murderous hillbilly psychopath, full of painful grains that churn beautifully against the organic flow of the percussion, but also taut in the execution of the groovy, verminous leads. Just as much of a case could be made for Mental Funeral as a doom metal classic as death, because a large portion of the material crawls along like a convocation of Pentagram, Black Sabbath and old school Paradise Lost. As I mentioned, this is in no way an 'evolution' of Autopsy's sound, but in fact a devolution, as if the band couldn't get enough grave soil and thus decided to dig a cemetery within another cemetery.
But they also evoke a fair share of variation throughout the track list that ensures the primacy of the material will never bore the listener. Personally, I was not a huge fan of the three shorter vignettes here. "Bonesaw" is a brutal burst that would have been better manufactured into a full-length track. "Mental Funeral" itself a haunting outro with some clean guitars, that also would have been appreciated were it expanded. "Fleshcrawl" is another instrumental doom guitar sequence that serves as a decent intro for "Torn from the Womb", but independently it's not the bees knees. That said, the core songs here are almost without exception incredible. "Twisted Mass of Burnt Decay" is a writhing, hardcore/death pounder in the vein of Sweden's Entombed, while "In the Grip of Winter" expands upon the doom and groove of the previous year's EP Retribution for the Dead, possessed of some evil, repulsive morbidity to die for. This aesthetic is actually taken one further with "Hole in the Head", one of my favorite Autopsy tracks hand down for its swaggering, restless melodies.
Elsewhere we find the drudging monstrosity that is "Slaughterday", with Reifert flexing his lungs in resonant patterns of true disgust. "Destined to Fester" is another of the band's timeless and catchy death/doom pieces, with a lot of groove to it that creates a dire and welcome mirror to the eminent, emerging grunge and doom scenes of the 90s. "Dark Crusade" is a straight rager not unlike "Twisted Mass...", with incredibly churning and thick guitar tones that alternate between a grinding, d-beat momentum and neanderthal breakdowns. "Dead" might as well be a mere instrumental for all the few vocal lines we are granted, but it's another slow, methodic crusher. About the only song I don't drool over here is "Robbing the Grave". The vocals are in fact exceptional, but despite the hypnotic drum beat, I just found the guitar riffs here to be overall lacking. That said, it does not cock up the overall experience.
Once again, we've got an album that has transformed into a virtual recycling bin of ideas. I must hear half a dozen demos and albums each week from younger artists trying to pull this off. Not that Mental Funeral is necessarily innovative on its own, but the grimy production was quite a novelty in its day. Stylistically, Autopsy were heavily favoring their doom forefathers, but they were also starting to distinguish themselves here from bands like Death and Obituary which were comparable to the debut Severed Survival. Sure, you'll still hear parallels in this, but they are marginal at best. Again, this is not a band whose albums melt my flesh off like various other fundamental classics. I don't admire the songwriting quite so much as a Left Hand Path, Cause of Death, Realm of Chaos, Leprosy, Consuming Impulse or Altars of Madness. But regardless, this is a band who produced a block of brutally reliable output when the genre was at its most fresh and inviting, and Mental Funeral belongs in any exhumation of classic ideas. Whenever I'm seeking out an effective, sepulchral atmosphere in death metal, I know just where to find it.
It's love of the dead…
There is a rare medical condition in newborn babies referred to as gastroschisis, which is an inherited congenital defect that causes the abdominal wall of the fetus to grow only partly or perhaps not at all. This leads to the fetus’ intestines and other visceral organs developing outside of its body. While shadowing at a hospital, I met the parents of an infant unlucky enough to be born with gastroschisis, and they told me horrific experience that their childbirth was: all of the simultaneous greatness and disgust the miracle of birth already provides, combined with the heartbreak and intense worry of your child’s safety due to its organs being strewn about while it is delivered from the womb.
Sonically, Mental Funeral is a lot like that, if the childbirth took place in an open grave in an ancient, rotting graveyard rather than a pristine hospital, and the presiding OB/GYN expert decided that a sledgehammer would be the best tool to use during the procedure.
There's kissing, of course, caressing, blood drinking, the smell, the attraction…
Autopsy’s second full length album is scary good. It’s one of the greatest death metal albums of all time. Just take a look at the cover art: that’s exactly what you have in store for you. Violent, twisted, disgusting shapes of an unknown origin. Broken, jagged teeth sticking out at unnatural angles, twitching claws ready to lash out without the slightest provaction. Perhaps it’s the product of imagination of a serial killer, or maybe it’s borne of some Lovecraftian interdimensional time warp phooey. But all that matters is the fact that you don’t know, you never will and you’ll probably die a violent death at its hands regardless. Autopsy crafts a very specific, very enjoyable and very dirty, disgusting atmosphere on Mental Funeral, and this most noticeable aspect of the album. Yes, its heavy-as-balls death metal with riffs all over the place, dynamic tempos and superfast guitar solos, but the first thing that becomes apparent is how wholly disgusting, dirty, filthy it all is. Autopsy is in control and has you in their grasp, and they’re a bit too deranged to properly answer your shrieked pleas for mercy in ways that don’t involve blunt objects and holes torn in skin.
When you lie on some bodies, blood comes out of their mouth, and the weight of my body pushes it out. That's called purging...
The guitar tone takes the monstrosity that was Severed Survival and brings it to its logical conclusion, promptly stabs it in the gut and goes even further. The production captured here is brilliant: the first opening notes of “Twisted Mass of Burnt Decay” exude heaviness through the fuzzy, distorted death of a guitar sound, as well as the low-tuned bass guitars and megaheavy, skin snapping drum performance by front man Chris Reifert. In terms of each individual’s performance, pretty much every nail is hit well on the head an excess of times. Bassist Steve Cutler has a few highlighted moments in “Torn From the Womb” and “Destined to Fester”, and the generally low-tuned sound of the strings in all Autopsy releases is ideally displayed on this album. Apparently famous 4-stringer Steve DiGorgio played bass on Autopsy’s debut and an EP following this album, but Cutler certain makes due here and DiGorgio is hardly missed at all. But Reifert’s vocals really take the gore-frosted cake here: the man has a sick, sick growl that makes me feel diseased just hearing him. Ever since the late 80s he has used a surprisingly low, brutal voice that comes off rather ahead of its time: there is no mistaking him for the shrieking of Chuck Schuldiner or Cronos-isms of Jeff Becerra. His vocal style can be directly traced to that of Tom G. Warrior; just imagine the vocals of Satanic Rites with 7 years of advancing death metal brutality laid on them, and perhaps some decapitated genitals in Reifert’s mouth as well.
I definitely enjoy swallowing blood. It's very arousing making love with a body and drinking some of the blood…
Miserable pathetic death by hammering guitars are provided by Eric Cutler and Danny Coralles, and their guitar style is more or less of that of the necroguttural nebulous death/black/doom/thrash/bloody vomit stylings of Hellhammer and Celtic Frost, forced into a death metal medium like a fist into a corpse’s anus. And the whole thing works marvelously: the end result makes Mental Funeral an enormous, sludgy death metal masterpiece that almost crosses into death/doom territory, considering their penchant for slower riffs contrasting against the upbeat and midpaced sections. Hear the hideous doom and gloom that opens up “Torn From the Womb”; the lead is tense and worrisome, and the verses switch between a crushing, bouncy rhythm and that miserable lead again, with a few unprecedented bursts of speed to remind you THAT THE KILLER IS RIGHT BEHIND YOU! Of course, songs like “Slaughterday” and “Robbing the Grave” bring the riffs and bring them painfully hard, but Cutler and Coralles’ guitar leads are unexpectedly adept as well. Though the solos are very fast, somewhat sloppy and come when you’re least prepared, they don’t sound like chromatic nonsense or random notes taken from basic scales. The lead guitar of Mental Funeral is immensely enjoyable and composed quite well, resulting in many memorable melodies that further boost this album’s overall effect on the listener. “Dead” and “Hole in the Head” are the most notable in this aspect: the former rides some haunting, memorable leads that mesh perfectly with the spoken lyrics and demonstrate the obvious influence Autopsy had on the burgeoning Swedish death metal scene. “Hole in the Head” is possibly my favorite song here, thanks in no small part to that brilliant melody that both opens and closes the song. Sure, the rest of the song brilliantly executes the expected permutations of their “slow/midpaced/fast/DEATHLY HEAVY” formula like most others do, but that lovely guitar lick makes the song particularly notable; why… it almost sounds happy. When I hear it, I imagine the members of Autopsy gleefully frolicking through rolling hills of poppy fields and oak trees, except intestines are strewn about the tree branches, the sky is raining down piss and shit, and there are always children screaming. Always. These are the kind of things that makes Autopsy happy.
There's a difference between fucking and making love. Maybe some people fuck dead bodies. I make love to them…
Something I always found neat about Mental Funeral that helped it stand out are those bizarre little interludes found throughout the running time. “Fleshcrawl” is an unpleasant, doomy thirty seconds using a dismal melody to perfectly lead into the highlight track “Torn From the Womb”. On the other hand, the excellent closer “Dark Crusade” is bookended by the fast, violent and furious “Bonesaw” and the morbid and macabre title track, which flawlessly uses Autopsy unique sense of melody to end this gory, bloody masterpiece of death metal. A masterpiece is exactly what this is: Autopsy’s sophomore album is a perfect demonstration of how excellent this genre can be. Mental Funeral pervades the deepest trenches of the human mind, bringing to light hideous, gruesome thoughts every modern citizen wishes to calmly placate and never admit exist. Every moment of it is immensely enjoyable and fairly memorable, and the masterful summation of all the band’s talents that is “In the Grip of Winter” testifies to this best. This release is a landmark; an extremely influential album that immortalizes Christ Reifert and his gang of amateur pathologists in the annals of history. Pure stillborn, slow-as-fuck dripping death metal insanity that must be heard by every metalhead; you’ll have to clean the blood and burnt flesh out of your ears with a spoon after hearing this.
When I enjoy myself with a corpse, it's a high beyond any I've ever had…
This album is almost two decades old, and it still mops the floor with all other death metal released in the succeeding years. While this is partially an indication of the sorry state of modern death metal, it is also a testament to the immense, lasting power that Mental Funeral carries. From the crushing opening of Twisted Mass of Burnt Decay to the slowly dripping clean notes of the final track, the music stands in a league of its own; this is one of those albums that you will never find boring.
Drummer Chris Reifert has stated his songwriting motivations in rather simple terms – to make “the sickest shit imaginable” or some such banality. But that phrase describes precisely what Mental Funeral is: lopsided, intentionally out-of-balance song structures; mischievously deranged riffs, very often spiced with multilayering for added harmonic effect; atonal guitar solos that appear out of nowhere, later to give way to yet another set of bizarre riffs; rhythms that bounce from rabid gallops to torturous crawls and everything in between.
Far from a textbook example of death metal, the album is a magnificent work from a band that did what it wanted even if it never won them any popularity contests in their active days. This was neither the fastest nor the most technical band in existence then, and it would be even farther from that status in today’s world where Niles and Cryptopsies reign. What sets Autopsy apart from the crowd is that Reifert & Co. never concentrated on one gimmick (technicality, “brutality”, speed, lack thereof, or what have you) but directed all of their energies into solid songwriting, employing whatever elements they thought proper. The end result is a mixture of vastly different bits and pieces well forged together: for example, the 35-second guitar-only interlude Fleshcrawl is a perfect way to both deliver a little pause from the brutality that preceded it and also lead into the next piece of dismal suffering.
There is a multitude of little rhythmic tricks that initially go unnoticed, but as one realizes how seamlessly the odd time signatures and other such surprises are set in the bigger picture, it heightens the listening experience even further; an underlying complexity permeates an album created by some guys who just wanted to record “brutal shit”. In contrast, when a modern death metal band goes into 7/8 time, you’ll be certain to hear them hailed as “progressive”, “inventive” and “different”. The difference, of course, is that for new bands it is a gimmick, while for Autopsy it was merely a way to drive a song forward with a little twist. Feel free to mail me about the exceptions in today’s world, for I am too sick of contemporary death metal to actively keep following it any more. In the meantime, I’ll cherish this classic like a Mongol cherishes his horse.
I liked Severed Survival. Though I never thought of it as a classic. I didn’t like the production much (flat) and I found some songs just dull. I bought it because I knew Reifert from Death’s Scream Bloody Gore obviously and had one old Autopsy demo song somewhere on tape. Severed Survival made its spin every few months when I was in the mood. So by the time Mental Funeral came out I bought it blindly. Green vinyl, great album cover. What could go wrong? This was ’91 of course and all death metal bands were still in great form those days (except Obituary that is)
Played it a few times and actually disliked it. Too many slow parts. Too many melodies played in a way others might call ‘inadequate’ or ‘almost out of key’. And that sound, so basic and un-produced it seemed. Guitars coming from a flooded basement and drums sounding like lumberjacks on booze. It just didn’t get it. Remember: these were the days of either the earliest Skogsberg sound or Morrissound and everything else either came from England or sounded like a demo. Well, I’m trivialising of course but the point is, I couldn’t ‘get’ why a full length album on a ‘big’ label could sound like this.
Eventually I had a discussion with Corinne from Acrostichon about this album. All the reasons I mentioned to dislike this album were exactly why she thought of this as an instant classic. It’s good sometimes to have the perfect opposite (argumentation included) opinion in order to clear your mind. She asked me why I liked Acrostichon melodies and very slow sections but not Autopsy. It was clear autopsy had been a HUGE influence on the early Acrostichon sound. My arguments were swept from the table and it all came down to personal taste. And like any human, personal taste not only changes throughout the years but also grows. And indeed, Mental Funeral did not grow on me but I grew into Mental Funeral!
One has to feel the beauty of second rate horror movies. No budget, practically no special effects. Just use lots of sauces. If your average modern days Death Metal band is a Hollywood production (they sure as hell sound that way these days, bloody hipsters!) then Autopsy’s Mental Funeral is the classic Evil Dead! Cheap camera’s and locations, lot’s of screams, interestingly coloured sauces but it magically works.
“Dead” probably is a perfect example of this. Slow, melodic and with spoken words. Talking about the words. Probably the least imaginative ways of describing death and therefore a perfect contrast to the rest of Autopsy’s messy lyrical content. And! It was completely different from all other death metal happening in ’91. Charming track really and still marvellous to this day. Catchy too by the way.
Other specific changes from Severed Survival were, apart from the already mentioned lower average pace and muddy production, the fact that the thrash-based primordial death metal riffs were exchanged for doom based sludgy chords, semi-riffs and eerie melodies. The band just took a step further into their own magical world of putrefaction, funerals and horror and left all known early death metal dogma’s and boundaries for what they were. And since then Autopsy have always been about that. Fuck the rules, fuck standardisation of (sub)genres. Do whatever you want. Mix doom and death, death and punk, whatever. Screw the critics. Musical integrity above all!
After Autopsy's debut 89' release, which was going to be surrounded by many other avenues of upcoming thicker death metal sounds. Autopsy didn't jump up to sound like bands pumped out of New York or Tampa. Which had a much thicker death metal sound, and some of these bands were dropping 80's thrash influences as well. Autopsy keep doing what they were doing. Spouting out more shock and horror like approaches to their atmosphere. They also probably had the resources to sound as technical, deep and brutal, or polished and sterile as they wanted, but opted to keep their sound as raw and non-conformed as possible. This, I think, kept their originality flowing. By sticking to their guns and producing on going twisted musical material. For instance the label they shared for many years, Peaceville, was bringing bands to life that were apart from the crowd. Several groups with cross-genres, such as Doom, and Paradise Lost. Early Paradise Lost, similar to Autopsy, would produce a brand of slower death-doom on their demos and debut. However, this band would go on to a change on their second album. Mental Funeral competed intentionally, or possibly unintentionally and uncaring to various other death metal groups, and would prove a more than worthy second album.
In comparing Mental Funeral's production to Severed Survival it has a much darker sound. Autopsy went from a raw, thrash oriented sound to a more dark and ugly quality. Like the character Two-Face from Batman. You have a mean, sinister goon side, and then the monstrous ugly, dark side; both faces coming from the same person. Literally every instrument has various amounts of reverb added to it. The drums for instance have a more clear and distinguished sound, but are still swirled and frosted with delicious amounts of obscurity. The guitars, bass and vocals are proudly saluting their commander with this soaked cavernous effect as well.
The music did add a few more characteristics to their mix coming from Severed Survival to Retribution for the Dead and then Mental Funeral. We get a more overall slower sound, with the edges sanded and painted a dark, brooding grayish-black color. The guitar lines displayed here are more horror theme oriented. There are plenty of mesmerizing back and forth higher noted interlude like pieces, where the hi-hat will count off or use the tom drums as a ritualistic technique. Both guitars often work in unison and at other times place the accent mark at the end of riffs. For instance, the rhythm will play a particular steady guitar line and then the lead might throw in a a few quick higher notes for flavor. A lot of the riffs can be quite primitive sounding at times, using only a few techniques. It is intricate in thought, but the riffs add more atmosphere than technicalities. Although, there is the occasional higher-volumed reverbed-out detailed solo, spotted like pestering sores throughout the album. There are a few early era Sabbath influences here on the guitars. There is a point on track 2 where the music stops, and he uses the lower volume knob technique. Where the distortion is hardly heard, and aids to a proper build up riff, and volume maximizing. Reifert's drumming amazes me per release, because he is constantly upping himself with creative detail. He still uses a constant playing style with limited breaks. The speed level does elevate to blast beat realms, but usually doesn't loiter long enough for the authorities to investigate. His tom drum chops are a cool feature with the slower moving riffs. During these, he might not even use the hi-hat or ride, but instead utilize the cymbals for nod. Look out strict doom bands, he knows how to keep these slow riffs interesting! His vocals are quite versatile here, they can be mainly deep fluctuating growls, to extended screams. As well as spew out many different indescribable noises.
Autopsy, can you visualize em', huh? Well take the lead, and look up their early killing sprees. Which makes the most vicious homicidal maniac, in the act, look like a choir boy. Mental Funeral took on a darker edge since the debut, as well as added many different engaging characteristics to their aura. Autopsy has been a band that often has a horror-like edge associated to their music. An almost shocking and blunt attitude. Not many bands can pull that off effectively, especially surrounded by many other groups who are attempting to do just that. It is and was inevitable fortune or an unlucky weight that would put the pressure on Autopsy's on going releases. After this album they put out the 'Fiend for Blood' EP which was half working, half not. Then they put out the full length 'Acts of the Unspeakable'. Which was a more polished sound, and an average, and unfocused game plan compared to previous releases. Especially compared to the dark portrait displayed here on Mental Funeral. With overall later releases, I think it was hard to top M.F. in creative energy. It was Autopsy's climatic peak with accumulated qualities.
Autopsy are a strange group. They come from the United States but they play, in my opinion, a raw form of Swedish death metal with some death’n’roll tempos and gore influences. With death’n’roll I don’t want to say “last Entombed” because there are a lot of differences. Autopsy play fucking brutal and sick; the tempos change so many times and in a song like “Twisted Mass Of Burnt Decay” we can have up tempo or doomy, rotten mid paced parts.
The production is very essential but also clean. The guitars are more or less like chainsaw but not too extreme, while the growling is the typical one from Sweden.True obscure atmosphere in “Fleshcrawl” is great, while the following “Torn From The Womb” has a strange guitars work, based on simply riffs and odd lead guitar lines.
The grotesque “Slaughter Day” is very good with down tempo and thrashy restarts. The doom heaviness of “Dead” is broken by the beginning up tempo of “Robbing the Graves” that turns from fast to doom style. “Hole In the Head” and “Destined To Fester” are really sick in the guitars parts while the instrumental “Bonesaw” is on total speed.
The snare drum sound is like a can, so raw and good. Every song has some up tempos filled with doomy parts and weird, reek lead riffs. Check the title track if you want a ton morbidity in 37 seconds of arpeggios. One of the sickest death album ever, but not recommended to those who search for speed here.
Autopsy is a big name in death metal, but their Mental Funeral album rarely gets the credit it deserves as a classic. Mental Funeral is the album that took me from love of Florida and New York bands like Cannibal Corpse and Deicide to every other genre of death metal and regions of the world that produce it.
The best word to describe this album is disgusting... which is good. The sound of the band, from Danny Coralles' thick buzzsaw guitar to Chris Reifert's drums and sick, twisted throaty possessed vocals, is top-notch. Reifert literally sounds like a horrible demon from hell spewing lyrics about death, gore, and perversion before it was cool to do so. The album is not purposely made to sound heavy, or fast... It transcends these simple labels. Hyper-fast blastbeats are not necessary for Autopsy, nor are heavy distortions. The guitar sound is great and thick: a simple death metal distortion that serves their sound perfectly. The bass is not too noticeable, mainly due to the guitar's overall riff dominance, but does give a nice low end to Autopsy's sound.
Much of this album is very doomy and sludgy, cutting most death metal tempos in half. In fact, the average tempo of this album is probably far below any other death metal artists from around the same time or today. Tempo is cut and instead replaced with the most evil-sounding riffing in existence. The interlude song "Fleshcrawl" and its evolution into the intro of "Torn From the Womb" is a perfect example of this evil sound. Slow doomy portions make the fast parts seem 1000x faster- they make fast death metal sections not the norm, but a special headbanging section of the song where emotion leads up to. A great example of a song that evolves from a slow doom to a mid-tempo pace to all out chaos is "Slaughterday". The end of it provides a huge amount of emotion and energy with a wild chaotic guitar solo... the build-up is perfect.
The riffs on this album are absolutely spectacular. "Hole in the Head" offers a great intro riff that screams of evilness and death without becoming super-technical. Every song (even the short instrumental interludes) have riffs that just sound awesome and evil. They capture the essence of a sick, sadistic sort of evil that Autopsy embodies musically. One of my personal favorite riffs (and in fact maybe my favorite death metal riff ever) is the riff during the middle section of "Robbing the Grave". Once that riff plays and the double bass section starts near the end one can understand why this album is a death metal classic... it captures the energy perfectly.
Overall, the album is scary, strange, evil, twisted, sadistic, gory, perverted trip... lyrically and musically. It is strange and disgusting, full of horrid doom and sludge but still entirely amazing death metal. A true death metal classic.
Autopsy were always something of an oddity. A US Death Metal band that had more in common sonically with their Swedish counterparts than their compatriots. Preferring a rumbling, sloppy mid-paced bulldoze, in comparison to say, Morbid Angel’s surgical, lightning speed precision, there’s something delightfully sick about their sound. The drums clatter, the guitars grind, and the bass thumps – no pro-tools here - and of course, there’s nary a melodic chorus in sight. Just how it should be.
Mental Funeral is their second album proper, and is nothing short of a fucking riot the whole way through. As Chuck Schuldiner’s Death continued their progression through ever more technical territory, in many ways their former member Chris Reifert took the Scream Bloody Gore sound to the opposite extreme.
Twisted Mass of Burnt Decay is a superb opener, one of Autopsy’s quicker songs, even including a brief, but ripping solo. As the album progresses, there is a constant schizophrenic switching between the various personalities of the band, from the creeping crawling almost doom of Winter, to the tremolo-picked riffs of Slaughterday, to the ultra-dirge of Destined To Fester, and back to the 40-second blastathon that is the immortal Bonesaw.
Autopsy have remained somewhat unsung heroes of the scene since splitting, but it’s not hard to trace the influences that this record must surely have had on bands like Entombed, who share Autopsy’s love of the demonic Slayer-esque split harmonies that pepper the album. Iron Monkey and their ilk owe a clear debt, and one can even imagine acts as diverse as My Dying Bride and Darkthrone taking frantic notes on this wondrous platter of splatter, as it snaked its way through their speakers.
Rather than making its impact through memorable riffs (not to say that there aren’t any – check Slaughterday or Dark Crusade for proof) or killer songwriting, Autopsy succeed by creating a genuinely horrific atmosphere. Mental Funeral is an apt title for an album that really plumbs the terrifying psychological depths in a way that most other DM bands just don’t manage to do. If it wasn’t such a cliché, I might say that Mental Funeral is the soundtrack to a film that’s not yet been made. I’ll resist, but they make it hard by including a perfect acoustic outro, that would really make sense over the end credits of some gore-fest or other.
I should also spare a word for the awesome cover art, which treads the fine line between repulsive gore, and funny as fuck.
Overall of my favourite Death Metal releases of all time, from an era when Peaceville failed to put out little that wasn’t essential for any metalhead. It gets better and better as the years pass, and if you consider yourself any kind of a fan of Death Fucking Metal, but don’t possess any Autopsy, you fail.
Autopsy were always unique. Even with their influence looming over countless bands (particularly the early swedish scene bands, i.e. Nihilist/Entombed, Grave, Dismember, etc.), they STILL have a sound that can't be confused with anyone else. You KNOW when you're listening to an Autopsy album. And the Autopsy sound really came into focus on "Mental Funeral".
While "Severed Survival" is also a classic album, "Mental Funeral" beats it out as Autopsy's best. It's one of those rare records, that "works" every time. The collection of songs work as a whole piece and are beyond capable of standing on their own: the opening death gallop of "Twisted Mass Of Burnt Decay", to the unholy coupling of "Fleshcrawl" and "Torn From The Womb", the brilliant "Destined To Fester" and everything in between...All the best doomed out death metal riffs in the book combined with well placed bursts of speed.
Autopsy's lack of caring about production value also, gives "Mental Funeral", as well as their other records, it's own personality. Their albums sound like they're decaying as time goes on, each record less polished than the last. The organic sound of "Mental Funeral" adds to its deathly atmosphere, you can almost smell the coffin stench when listening to it.
Crude, nihilistic, and brilliant. Autopsy were masters of their (lack of) craft. And "Mental Funeral" was their apex performance.
This outstrips the barbaric bludgeoning (a Cannibal Corpse reference, sue me) of their crude yet effective first album in spades. A better, more ambient/cavernous production with a booming drum sound and crushing guitars is what we have here as well as a (somewhat) more refined approach to the lyrics, and this is what Autopsy has wrought; a damn twisted classic.
And Chris Reifert's vocals were more worthy of the term voKILLs, as he made a quantum leap in that realm between "Severed Survival" and this release. His guttural roars and throat-searing retches are intimidating as hell as opposed to the high-pitched vomits of the first album, and his lyrics seem all the more nasty and perverse for it.And what lyrics...his odes to necrophilia, virally-spread death, sewage, gore, and, well, death in all its forms are the product of a truly warped mind, and unlike many bands he has conviction, that's for damn sure. Which makes Eric Cutler's vocal appearance on "Slaughterday" feel a bit generic, honestly, as Cutler simply doesn't sound as terrifying as Riefert does.
However, the rest of the band delivers on the conviction front as well, with Eric Cutler and Danny Coralles especially shining in that deliciously necro manner years before that term was coined. Their haunting melodies and harmonies and bulldozing riffs really came a long way on this album and the deep yet clear guitar sound really aids them in sounding more evil and sinister. The wild, flailing soloing also has a distinct desperate flair and character to it, as well as emotion and structure, two things often lacking in the realm of death metal as far as guitar soloing. As opposed to the generic Slayerisms you hear in most bands of this sort (wank on that whammy bar for all yer worth between uninspired bursts of random atonal notes--leave that to Slayer, guys), the solo in say, "Robbing The Grave" leaves the average death metal idiot in the dust. Bass is buried (no pun intended!) as always, so no comment there. Refer to "Robbing The Grave", "Slaughterday" (the music anyway), "Twisted Mass of Burnt Decay", and "Dark Crusade", among others, for highlghts.
But pretty much this whole album comes highly recommended, it's that damned good. The slower, doomier approach they took on "Mental Funeral" (great title, IMO) makes the faster songs and parts feel more brutal and relentless. This album has dynamics and character to spare, and is enthusiastically recommended to everyone. Quite possibly the best Autopsy album, this is, of all the albums they made, this is where they hit their peak and stride and really started killing all their path.
I bought this album not so long ago, and before that I hadn´t heard a single song by Autopsy. What met my ears when I first listened to it was quite slow, doomy(still with fast parts in it of course) and uncomplicated death metal, that had serious groove and a "we´re death metal, go to hell!"-attitude. It sure was different from many of the other acts in the genre that I listen to, because they never try to be the fastest, most brutal and technical band in the world. Instead, in Autopsy´s case, it is the feeling that matters. Now I don´t have the time to describe the songs one by one, so I´ll try to describe how the whole record actually sound:
In the slower parts it is either standard doom metal riffs with heavy powerchords that sloooooowly moves the music forward, or Black Sabbath inspired riffs where two guitars play a melody, one light and one dark. In the fast parts then, it is the ordinary tremolo picking, played over powerchords or just a single string.
All those elements are perfectly combined so that it not should get boring, and it never does! This record is a masterpiece of pure death metal. Buy it now!