In the raft of reunions and comebacks over the last few years, Autopsy has pleased me more than most. A fan since the early to mid nineties when I was first introduced to the band, I managed to pick up a couple of albums before they disbanded. Then followed a fifteen year hiatus before they returned in 2012 in the ‘The Tomb Within’ EP.
It’s almost as if they had never been away, following up the EP with their fifth full length album ‘Macabre Eternal’. Since these recent releases, and a near perfect appearance at BoltFest in London last year (their first UK appearance in around 20 years), Autopsy have found themselves right back at the top of the pile when it comes to mashing together all different sorts of putrid noise.
Right from the opener ‘Slaughter At Beast House’ the quartet of Chris Reifert (drum / vocals), Eric Cutler (guitar / vocals), Danny Coralles (guitar) and Joe Trevisano (bass) display all the hallmarks that rightly earned them such respect, effortlessly moving between chaotic punk and a slow mournful dirge all held together by Reifert’s depraved gargles, growls and screams. There is an added maturity about the band, but this just seems to have lent itself to writing stronger songs. They have concentrated on just ten tracks for this album, whereas they usually include double that.
There are a couple of surprising moments on “The Headless Ritual”.The seven minute epic ‘She Is A Funeral’ contains some of the more intricate guitar work you will hear from the Bay Area gorelords rather than the usual frantic rush. The shortest track on the album, ‘Thorns And Ashes’ appears midway through the album and a brief relapse from the carnage, although it may have been better served if it had been used as an intro or outro.
“The Headless Ritual” could easily find itself in the end of year lists, it is that good. This is a band who have been around long enough (and its members have been around since the very early days of the scene) and they keep producing death metal of the highest quality. If you are an Autopsy fan, you will not be disappointed. The band have a way of doing things and it has worked thus far, and no sense changing a good thing. The raw production and song structure are typical Autopsy and along with the song titles and gruesome artwork courtesy of Joe Petagno, its great to see the veterans showing the younger bands how its done. Thoroughly unpleasant, in the best possible way.