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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.