without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
I remember it just like it was yesterday when I discovered Autopsy. I was zooming through the metal section in a local record store The Vinyl Room(sells used CDs as well) and I came across "Severed Survival" and "Mental Funeral" CDs and I couldn't help but want to buy them because I was so intrigued by the cover art. I believe I was either 14 or 15, I had already been into the more well known death metal acts like Death, Cannibal Corpse, Deicide, Morbid Angel etc. but no death metal band quite blew me away like Autopsy did when "Charred Remains" came blasting through my shitty little radio. So needless to say, when I heard they were reforming back in 2009 I was pretty damn excited. "The Tomb Within" was a great comeback EP but "Macabre Eternal" wasn't just great, it was amazing and luckily enough, so is "The Headless Ritual".
Right from the first second of the opening track "Slaughter at Beast House" you are kicked in the teeth with an insane tremolo riff and from there on it's death/doom insanity. This track was an undeniably great way to open up this album, it features everything an Autopsy fan loves about their music and sets the tone for the rest of the album but anyone who is into the band knows what to expect.
Not much has changed musically with Autopsy since the 90's, "Shitfun" aside. Mind you, I like the album but we all know it's 'deathpunk" style is hard to grasp while comparing to their other releases. Though there's a couple slight differences I personally notice, one being Joe Allen's presence. He joined in 2010 and out of the several bassists Autopsy has had I'd say he's the best and you can tell he makes sure his skilled playing is noticed. It stays audible from start to finish, doesn't always follow what the guitar is doing and has some nice moments to shine and not to mention the thick, chunky tone. The only other slight difference since the 90's is Eric and Danny seem to have put more work into their guitar playing. It just seems as if the riffs and leads are more thought out and flow very smoothly, basically they have better structure but I'll get into the song writing soon. If you've never listened to Autopsy, well I'm suggesting you should stop reading this right now and go buy "Mental Funeral" but I'll briefy summarize what you'll find. The guitar work features a good amount of well executed tremolo which you'll notice from the first second of the opening track. Some riffs contain a punk vibe, up and down strummed power chords which undeniably suits their sound and there's some very thrashy riffs too which goes without saying. Last but definitely not least, the crushing doom metal passages that force you to do a slow headbang, many sound pretty 'dark' for lack of a better word. Many people consider Autopsy a straight up death metal band and although death metal is the main ingredient in their music there's an undeniable large amount of doom as well. I feel comfortable saying they're a doom/death band. I already explained the bass so as for the drum work, Chris never fails to please. Unlike most death metal bands you won't find insane blast beats or super technical drumming, his playing is skilled and straight forward plus I really couldn't imagine Autopsy will technical drumming. The vocals are like most old school death metal vocalists, not overly brutal or guttural but enough to sound like a demon. This what you'll find in an Autopsy album, "Shitfun" aside, if you'd like to know what that albums all about just read the reviews.
The production sounds pretty modern and clear which is expected, putting into consideration it's 2013. As much as I loved the dirty, rough sound of their early albums I don't mind modern production either. When comparing this to "Macabre Eternal" the production here is more clean, modern, whatever the hell you wanna call it. but not to the point that it's over polished. The main benefit is that everything is at the perfect volume in the mix whereas before it felt like things were a bit uneven. As a guitar player, when I listen to an album I usually look at the guitar work first and with this production the guitar tone just sounds monstrous and the riffs are more clear. Simply put, if you have heard a death metal album released in the past two years, you'll know how the production is here.
The key to an amazing album is the song writing. Sure, all these riffs can be wicked and blah blah but when it comes down to it, are these songs enjoyable? Are these songs I'm going to listen to in 20 years? Are these songs memorable? The answer is... yes, I'd say so, apparently other reviewers on here may disagree but to each his own. The song writing may not be on par with the legendary "Mental Funeral" which I consider their best release but they still did one hell of a good job on this record. These are memorable songs, worthy of listening to on repeat and most notably the song structures are fantastic. As I said about the riffs, the songs seem so well thought out and it's noticeable that Autopsy put a lot of work in making sure these were amazing tracks not just good tracks. It's also important that this album is far from boring, at least my attention is 100% focused on it while I listen to it, not to mention there's no filler which speaks volumes. Simply put, each track is a chaotic, death/doom metal roller coaster that you just want to keep riding over and over again. Overall, as I expected this album features fantastic song writing.
Despite other reviewers opinions, I believe "The Headless Ritual" is a phenomenal album. It's a fact that Autopsy will never be able to release another "Mental Funeral" or "Severed Survival" but I'm not expecting them to, they hit their peak on their first two albums but with that being said, that doesn't mean they still can't write fantastic music. Overall, I'd say "Macabre Eternal" is slightly better than this but not by much.
Highlights, in order:
"Slaughter at Beast House"
"Mangled Far Below"
"Running From the Goathead"
Having returned with the mighty "Macabre Eternal" in 2011 death metal legends Autopsy have struck while the iron is still hot and pumped out "The Headless Ritual" to an audience baying for dirty, bloody death metal done the proper way. Opener "Slaughter at Beast House" sets the scene diligently, spending much of its 6 minutes crawling along a bass-driven riff with Chris Reifert's decipherable horror-soaked lyrics darkening the mood immensely and from there the remaining 38 minutes plod along a similar course, albeit with more variable results than the stronger "Macabre Eternal". However the end result differs little: Autopsy stand proud as an antidote to the the infatuations with speed, technicality and sanitised production that developed in their extended absence.
Like its predecessor, "The Headless Ritual" is a cleaner, more approachable beast compared to the band's decrepit early material but by the standards of 2013 there is still a vinyl-dwelling charm to the sound here. Aided immensely by Reifert's true drumsound, the guitar tones have a well digested, juicy feel to them that adds a requisite touch of gore to proceedings in a more pleasing manner than the fuzzy backwash of their sound on 1989's "Severed Survival", that is for sure.
Musically this time around the band are at pains to greater emphasise their doomed element, with "Flesh Turned To Dust", "Coffin Crawlers" and the short interlude "Thorns and Ashes" all charging at you like a tortoise does, but these results are mixed, too much feeling forced unlike the free-flowing "Macabre Eternal". It is when the speed is notched up in the groovy "Mangled Far Below", "Slaughter At Beast House" and, eventually, in "Arch Cadaver" that the band are more interesting as the menace in their brooding riffs and the Slayer-esque guitar solos have ample more opportunity to grab you by the neck and shake til all life is gone.
Thanks to its reduced palette of blood-soaked gorey gurglings "The Headless Ritual" ultimately does not match up to the target set up by "Macabre Eternal" but what makes Autopsy the underground fascination they are still exists. There is no concession to trends and a dyed-in-the-wool desire to play proper deathly metal as if their cursed lives depended on it, and this is why Autopsy remain an essential band of the genre regardless of the result here.
Originally written for www.Rockfreaks.net
It's been nearly thirty years since Autopsy's genesis. Upon inception, Autopsy had blazed the path for the death metal genre as one of its pioneering innovators, and now in 2013, as legends. Despite a fourteen-year void that commenced in 1995, Autopsy officially re-united in 2009; and in 2011, released their first full-length album in sixteen years, as well as the band's fifth total, Macabre Eternal. The gore and horror continue as the band recently released, The Headless Ritual; ten lurid tales as told in unmitigated Autopsy allegory.
The Headless Ritual is, well, Autopsy, pure and simple. It is what you would expect any Autopsy record to sound like; punk-inspired death metal riffs, and horror-inspired lyrics delivered in classic Reifert/Cutler form. It is a commendable effort, especially sure to please fans of the old school. However, as the genre continues to innovate itself, The Headless Ritual is merely an ode to the past. Nevertheless, praise can't be taken away from Autopsy, as the album is a testament to a band that deserves the utmost respect for their legacy, and if nothing else, their ability to remain true and strong after nearly thirty years.
The past two years have been undeniably monolithic for extreme metal. The quality of the bands and albums are at a boom, and releases have been relentless across the board. Fans have been deluged with some of the best works the genre has ever produced at an alarming rate and fortunately, there appears to be no end in sight. And while bands like Autopsy paved the way for today's successes, The Headless Ritual remains dissimilar to that of its peers. The album just feels like a nostalgic novelty, or that Autopsy was trying too hard to make as such, especially in its lyrics, song titles, and physical layout (i.e. cover art). It's a very simplistic approach bordering on banal.
On the contrary, The Headless Ritual does have some appealing attributes. It is not at all a bad record. The music and musicianship of the band are enjoyably solid. It maintains Autopsy's standard approach of quality death metal and is unyielding of anything sub par in terms of delivery. The sound is thick and murky, well mixed, and overall highlights the band's talents in a clearer light than that of the 80's low quality productions. Musically, Autopsy maintains better than average playing abilities and hooks. The vocals are decipherable, guttural and shrieking. The music is delivered in a carousel of interchanging tempos, mostly of mid-pace and slower, grinding grooves. Reifert's drumming continues to be airtight, holding down the rhythms with ease, yet stopping short of any technical virtuosity. Some enjoyable tracks include: "She Is A Funeral", "Coffin Crawlers", and the more up-tempo, guitar fueled, "Running From The Goathead".
Overall, The Headless Ritual is an ample work. While it lacks any groundbreaking elements, it is a quite enjoyable experience. However, in this day and age, sadly, it will be an album overshadowed for one of the best releases of the year title. Furthermore, with upcoming new material from Gorguts and Broken Hope, it unfortunately may be forgotten quickly as fans of the old school scramble to those highly anticipated releases. Moreover, with the unparalleled state of the current, more technical bands and trends, Autopsy may not be seen as a legitimate contender among the younger generation of today. Personally, I am afflicted by this thought, but take comfort in knowing Autopsy is a band that is far from a washed-up ghost of the past. After all, bands like this surpass many, much younger bands, and their influence, while under-appreciated at times, remains indelible.
***Originally written for and by www.deathportal.net
I feel bad for Autopsy. I really do. If Abcess wasn't a hint enough that Chris Reifert wanted to tweak his musical style, then Autopsy's most recent albums are a testament to the fact. The bar is set so high after Severed Survival and Mental Funeral, the hope for a new cult classic is tempting. The new Autopsy is punk-doom with not-so-much growling vocals, but more Chris shrieking at the microphone. Sounding more like a horror movie soundtrack rather than the atmospheric doom of yesterday has separated many fans, but Autopsy still brings the attitude when needed and the brutality throughout. It is tempting to fall into nostalgia when thinking about the first two masterpieces that Autopsy has created. Sadly, classics are lightning in a bottle, only attainable during a very small period of time. The truth is that the angst and anger has dissipated and new Autopsy is essentially a tribute band to a time forgotten. The scene is different, the creators of death metal are aging, and Chris Reifert and co. are creating their own brand of death metal with a healthy dose of the classical sound that the fans crave.
The music itself is clean, but a tad murky with a much more audible bass guitar than Macabre Eternal. The guitar work is predictable, but menacing. The drumming of Chris Reifert is simplistic, but precise. He can achieve a great degree of difficulty at times. The vocals rarely differ from that on Macabre Eternal, but the use of high shrieks are more common. One thing that this album does very well is hold your attention, and that is not easy for a doom- influenced band to do. Just when the music becomes a bit stale, a new element is introduced that changes the sound. And when you do wait for that climactic end, they always deliver.
In songs such as "Flesh Turns to Dust", the resemblance to older Autopsy is seen. "She is a Funeral" has a haunting chanting sound about halfway through, something I wasn't expecting from this band.
In conclusion, this album is good, but not fantastic. Yet I have a large amount of respect for them because of their persistence in playing their punk-influenced brand of death metal. We are all secretly waiting for the next Mental Funeral, but this is not a band alternative at all.
Autopsy got into the death metal scene while it was still fairly young and the rules that tend to guide it were not so firmly entrenched in its psyche. There was a general consensus that lyrics would tend to expand upon the gorey, horrific, and occasionally mystical aspects of what defined the mid 80s extreme thrash elements that were making waves in the Bay Area, namely that of Slayer and Possessed. Thus the logical outcome is a rather loosely knit group of newcomers out of Florida and New York who were ratcheting things up to the next level, yet still sticking pretty close to the underlying thrash metal roots that they had sprung from. Where Autopsy differentiated itself primarily was a greater degree of doom influences, perhaps partially brought about by taking a few cues from Slayer's "South Of Heaven", which makes sense given their being from the Bay Area themselves.
This is all relevant because "The Headless Ritual" is a complete throwback to the early sound that this band exhibited in response to the still fairly young Florida scene, while simultaneously having a drummer who'd been involved with it via Death. The mixture of raving yells that are notably close to Schuldiner's and Tardy's early work, the jarring contrast between high octane thrashing with a thicker sound and punishingly slow doom sections (often with little transition to speak of), and the technical lead guitar remnant that was inherited from King and Hanneman are all on full display. The only things that really separate this from "Severed Survival" and "Mental Funeral" is an occasional helping of the more punk-oriented influences that were displayed in their mid 90s material and a louder production quality that is not quite as dense and murky as recent Incantation, but is a bit closer to it than not.
For the most part things tend to be fairly conventional, not many risks are taking in relation into past work, and the album is possessed of a raw yet fairly mechanical feel. It works well given that the lead guitar work and vocals tend to be all over the place, thus necessitating that the riff work and drums act as an anchor. In fact, one of the things that kind of holds this album back a bit is that the vocals get a bit too exaggerated at times and almost become comical. Nevertheless, exaggerated tremolo infused mayhem of "Slaughter At Beast House" does it's part to rivet the ears in a manner akin to "Angel Of Death" on crack, followed by a somewhat more measured degree of thrashing before going off into a plodding doom break. It sets the stage for a whole album of mixed up songs that will either begin on an extremely fast or slow note and then shifting completely to the other extreme at several points, almost like a mangled corpse being pulverized at full speed in a meat grinder before being slowly rolled out on a broken down conveyor belt. It gets a bit scatterbrained at times in comparison to the tighter feel of their early 90s material, but it exhibits a similar overall sound.
Anyone hungry for old school death metal will find a decent album here, though at times it seems like between the blurring riff work and disheveled vocals gives the impression that they are trying just a little too hard to be edgy while simultaneously avoiding the inhuman "brutal" sound that's become so popular of late in death metal circles. This is essentially a good attempt at turning back the clock to the days before Suffocation hit the scene, and it would have been better for it had they not tried to one-up them in terms of how extreme they sound within their own set style. Then again, even an overly elaborate death scene will still get the intended reaction out of its target audience, even if after the fact some of said spectators question if the gratuitous nature of the violence viewed robbed it of some staying power.
Whereas its predecessor, Macabre Eternal, was a comeback album wrought with a few new ideas and 'progression' for the Californian cult Autopsy, The Headless Ritual is more of a direct return to the style of Severed Survival and Mental Funeral. Can't say I'm complaining, as those have already remained my favorite in their canon of carnage, but at the same time, though if I was only slightly warm on Macabre Eternal or The Tomb Within EP, I admired that, even after 15 years of studio absence, speculation and the on- and offline accrual of a wider fan base than they ever originally had, this was a band still willing to expand itself and take a few chances, which in conjunction with the rise in popularity of nostalgic death metal aesthetics, really paid off with one of the most buzzed-about revival records in the genre. The Headless Ritual certainly doesn't take as many chances, and thus it's by nature a little 'safer' than its older sibling. Yet, curiously enough, I found myself enjoying this a bit more...
Probably due directly to the fact that my only substantial connection to their music had come and gone by about 1991. Gruesome and timeless, indeed, but Autopsy were just never one of my top tier death metal acts, simply due to the fact that a lot of their doom-dowsed riffs (of which there were plenty) bore the brunt of familiarity with a lot of other Sabbath inspired music, and the faster riffing sequences, while filthy and effective thanks to their production, were just not as impressive and mind blowing for me as Autopsy's more surgical and/or evil sounding contemporaries on albums like Consuming Impulse, Leprosy, Scream Bloody Gore, Symphonies of Sickness, Left Hand Path and Altars of Madness. Personal preferences aside, though, Severed Survival and Mental Funeral have never lost their charnel lustre, and they absolutely deserve their pedestals in the pantheon of festering flesh where they remain. The Headless Ritual pays tribute, and often rises to a similar level of quality, thanks to a superb balance of death and doom riffing progressions, but as loud and capable as its production allots, I can't say that I come away from it feeling as viscera-soaked as I might have when younger.
It's a cleaner record, but that doesn't exempt it from sounding heavy as fuck, especially when they lurch into a morbid groove like "Mangled Far Below", an excellent if mildly predictable fusion of death and doom in which the vile harmonies and writhing, serpentine lead-work really help to balance off Reifert's raving and growling, which frankly sound no less over the top than any of the past album, especially when he angles his inflection upward into a more snarling delivery. A number of the tunes like "Coffin Crawlers" and "When Hammer Meets Bone" are fueled by that same hellish punk foundation one can recall from several of the older albums, but at the same time they don't enjoy the most memorable of chord progressions, simply barreling over the listener like a trolley car full of flailing zombies, while Reifert's grotesque and charismatic microphone spasms steer them up and down the San Fransiscan landscape. There are a handful of surprises here, like the melodic death metal interlude "Thorns and Ashes", which is almost entirely built of Maiden-like guitar harmonies and barked out lyrics, or the closer, "Headless Ritual" itself, which is similar but with more layers of rhythm, but neither is necessarily all that exciting. Interestingly, where The Headless Ritual branches off towards its most melodic material, I am heavily reminded of Arlington's Deceased. Not a bad thing!
Pacing is meticulous, or I might even say masterful. No two songs in direct succession sound repetitive or redundant, and most are kept concise and centered around only a handful of riffing ideas, with the exception of "Slaughter at Beast House" and "She is a Funeral" which are drawn out largely because they are among the slower, death/doom pieces. There are definitely some bum riffs in there, especially the first few minutes of the latter, but eventually you get some payoff in the bridge. Bass playing is thick but very often follows the rhythm guitars, which are themselves only inspirational about half the time, despite the broad, effective tone. Reifert has no choice but to occasionally feel hokey, since he places so much emphasis on grimy syllables that they tend to fall overboard (nothing new, really). However, the guy's drumming is still among the most organic and natural feeling in the genre, tinny or raw where it needs to be, but feisty as fuck during the more charged segments like the storming early riffs in "Slaughter At Beast House". Lead guitars are probably the most central and adept they've been yet in Autopsy's career, but I will admit that many of the rhythm riffs are sorely lacking in creativity or compelling chord progressions, and they don't often stand out.
I've seen a few individuals butt hurt over the cover artwork, probably because Macabre Eternal had a great color scheme and looked fantastic; but hey, it's better than earlier Autopsy like Acts of the Unspeakable or Shitfun, right? Still, veteran Joe Petagno has had better showings (Angelcorpse's Exterminate, Mammoth Grinder's Extinction of Humanity, and many of his Motörhead covers, for example). I think this one still gets the point across of the ritualistic, occult horror that informs a lot of the lyrics, but some folks probably won't be satisfied until they get another Severed Survival. Ultimately, some people just aren't going to dig on The Headless Ritual much at all, since it doesn't necessarily capitalize on Macabre Eternal so much as it's a regression towards their older works spiced up with a cleaner production and a lot of melody. But for what it's worth, I've had a pretty good time listening through it. Didn't impress me nearly as much as, say, the latest Incantation, or what newer 'old school' bands like Tribulation, Horrendous and Necrovation have been churning out in the past couple years, but I felt satisfied that I paid for an Autopsy record, it sounded much like what I expected off the samples I had heard, and I got some giggles and headbanging out of it. Sometimes that is enough.
Overrated, uninspired, generic, and pointless release.
Bringing now almost as many releases than before their breakup, Autopsy (or a more brutal Abscess version) releases one more time a really forgettable album.
Autopsy is easily one of the most brutal and legendary death metal bands ever, but their reunion has seen mainly sub-par music being created; repetitive moments trying to sound totally "Mental Funeral", shitloads of riffs not well-connected between them, and the fast-slow-mega slow-fast-orgy in solos formula in most of the songs, as if they simply cannot conjure the obscure, brutal, and sick atmosphere like in the old times.
Starting from the lame excuse to reform Autopsy and ending in the rain of EPs, DVDs and whatnot, everything seems to point towards a not so good retirement plan/pension for the good ‘ol fellas, hence the need to cash some last bucks from the fans' pockets whilst possible. But that’s not the real “sin” in here, but the fact that such intentions have moved into their sound: it is not dirty and the arrangements range from average to poor. They even replay a couple of tricks right out of that classic album of theirs trying to sound “old” and inspired.
Was it really needed to begin the album with an almost 7 minute track? "Slaughter at Beast House" is not so bad, but it could have been easily shortened to 5 minutes and still sound fine, but to sound sloooow by endlessly repeating some riffs is not really tricking anyone.
"Mangled Far Below" is a track that could fit easily on the latest Abscess albums. The ending for "Coffin Crawlers" is so laughable and amateurish, and as well some really weird leads come from "When Hammer Meets Bone". I mean, it shows that the guys haven't lost technique or their musical skills (to say that would be a blatant lie), but a good album is not just about skills, but inspiration.
It's so funny to know that "Severed Survival" was recorded after just a few practices with Danny Coralles. So obviously he got the talent, but also was inspired enough to come with some really filthy and brutal sound(s) for the album(s). Now all of that is gone.
"Thorns and Ashes" hosts one of the most generic death metal riffs, something worthy of old Dark Tranquillity. "Arch Cadaver" is not a really bad track, but Reifert is not really growling anymore, but screaming like an old pissed drunkard, and most of the "peaking" moments from this album sounds like a mixture between Necrophagia, the latest Ravenous album, and Abscess on steroids. How someone can listen to "Running From the Goathead" and not to think Abscess is beyond my mind.
Not to mention the modern production ruining every good riff/moment of the album. The sound is just like one of the many death metal out there: generic, clean, and over-produced. At least it is somehow better than "Macabre Eternal", that's for sure, but is still quite far from the quality that Autopsy used to put in every one of their releases.
I was not expecting another "Mental Funeral" or anything like that, but an inspired album including some of the old school sickness mixed with new ideas/experience from the band members. Did I mention the UGLY and lame Photoshop artwork?
Definitively a worth to listen album (okay, just a couple of times), but nothing more.
No more good death metal albums such as "The Headless Ritual"? Something no one would ever say.
In the budget for their 6th studio album, Autopsy apparently was given the money to rent a truck, a truck used at high speed to crush the listener when the very first note of opening track 'Slaughter at Beast House' strikes and then is used to back up and pulverize what remains when the tempo drops after two minutes. Changing the tempo ranging from a mid-tempo base with doomy or up-tempo lines added throughout songs is nothing new in the Autopsy book, but on 'The Headless Ritual' the overall variation and dynamic in the music reach heights unheard in the past.
The key previous albums all had their distinctive elements in the rather straightforward thrashy debut, the horror flick-inspired, doom-laden 'Mental Funeral' and the weird and vocally twisted 'Macabre Eternal'. This time around the Autopsy beast has digested all of these efforts and spewed forth a deadly volley of insane death metal. With variation being the key, 'The Headless Ritual' is filled with brilliantly memorable riffs ranging from straightforward and thrashy as in 'When Hammer Meets Bone' to horror flick-sounding and upright weird as in 'Coffin Crawlers' and 'Flesh Turns to Dust'. The bass is varied, but is generally high up in the mix and pushes the music forward along with the drums. The guitars partly fall in line with the rhythm section and partly battle against it, creating an eerie atmosphere throughout the album.
The vocals are a direct descendant of predecessor 'Macabre Eternal' and Reifert/Cutler partly scream and partly vomit forth their messages of gore and horror. The production is quite stripped in an old school fashion and makes the music seem sincere compared to a modern all-in instruments to the max production. Adding a bunch of endangered, shrieking, chaotic, and thrashy solos makes for the cherry on top of this brilliantly dynamic effort.
The one problem I can find with this album is the lack of new elements in the Autopsy brew. All ingredients have been used before, but quite frankly that is a minor problem when the band treats us with such a twisted behemoth of an album. Were it not for the calming effect of the closing instrumental title track, death metal fans all over the world would go berserk when the last notes of 'The Headless Ritual' fades. This is on all counts Autopsy's best effort since 'Severed Survival' and is an essential release!
If you confess to having even the slightest interest in death metal, it is your bloody duty to walk...nay, run down to your local record merchant and purchase this monster on the spot. You still there? I said run!
Originally written for www.metalcovenant.com