1. Slaughter At Beast House|
2. Mangled Far Below
3. She Is A Funeral
4. Coffin Crawlers
5. When Hammer Meets Bone
6. Thorns & Ashes
7. Arch Cadaver
8. Flesh Turns To Dust
9. Running From The Goathead
10. The Headless Ritual
In the beginning, death metal wasn't the sprawling metropolis of sub-genres we know today. Back then there was simply just, well "death metal". However there were still several distinct styles floating around in the relatively small scene, mostly centered in Florida. There was the fast, thrashy, occasionally technical style (Deicide, Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse), The jazzed-out, progressive as fuck style (Atheist, Pestilence, Cynic), mid-pace, groovy death metal (Obituary, Six Feet Under, Bolt Thrower) and finally the doom-laden end of the genre (Asphyx, Disembowelment, early My Dying Bride). But California's Autopsy are a different musical beast entirely, mixing thrashy sections with long drawn out doom riffs, tortured growls and gory imagery all topped off with some excellent drumming and squealing solos. This excellent melding of styles is why I consider Autopsy to be one of my all time favourite death metal bands, and when I heard they were recording a follow up to 2011's excellent comeback "Macabre Eternal" I couldn't wait to review it.
Chris Reifert and the boys are still on top form, and opening track "Slaughter At Beast House" proves that beyond a shadow of a doubt. Starting off nice and thrashy (fast, punky, 4/4 drum beats with plenty of cymbal chokes, just how I like it.) before descending into madness midway through when the doom kicks in and a marvellous wailing solo shows off the bands grimy side.
"Mangled Far Below" is a nice mid-speed death metal romp with another wailer of a solo that keeps the record plodding along nicely, but it's "She Is A Funeral" that really gets things going nicely. Moving from a feedback ridden intro to a lumbering dissonant verse, and from there into a surprisingly melodic doomy chorus. Chris Reifert's raspy, death gurgles are on point and as horrifying as ever, and after nearly shrieking the song's title, another fantastic solo kicks in, one that wouldn't sound out of place on a hard rock album. The song abruptly changes once again into doomland, and comes to a very sudden halt, decimating your senses and then disappearing like a phantom into the night.
Coffin Crawlers has a nice slow arpeggiated riff, and as this album goes on it becomes apparent that Danny Coralles and Eric Cutler haven't lost touch in the slightest. Joe Trevisano, despite being relatively new to the fold, provides some excellent basslines and helps keep the rhythm section tight but sloppy at the same time. "When Hammer Meets Bone" has a great harmonised guitar section before a chaotic as fuck slayer style solo kicks in. The contrast of doomy restraint and thrashy madness all wrapped up in gore and horror sounds as great as ever. "Thorns & Ashes" makes for a nice melodic interlude before "Arch Cadaver" kicks it up a notch and doesn't let up throughout. Chris Reifert's vocals will probably be a large dividing factor, especially among new fans, but I think his voice sounds as good as ever and it fits the tone of the music perfectly. "Flesh Turns To Dust" shows off the scope of his vocals nicely, along with a nice amount of variation in the music, resulting in one of my favourite tracks on the album. "Running From The Goathead" embraces thrashy death metal a la Deicide in style, complete with harmonies, cymbal chokes up the ass and a wailing atonal solo, meanwhile Chris' vocals are slightly lower but every bit as raspy as the rest of the album. The title track, "The Headless Ritual" rounds things off nicely, with a couple of great riffs that slowly bring the album to a close.
This is yet another triumphant release for Autopsy since their return. While not quite as long as "Macabre Eternal", this album packs just as much of a punch, if not more. Like I said, the vocals may put some people off, but in my opinion Chris' vocals are part of what ties the whole package together and the sludgy, bloodsoaked horrifying mess that is Autopsy wouldn't be the same without him doing vocals. Plus the fact that he can drum and do vocals at the same time when playing live is hella impressive.
In summary, if you like Autopsy already you'll fucking love this album so what are you waiting for? If you've heard Autopsy but aren't sure, it's better than "Macabre Eternal", which was pretty fucking impressive. And finally if you somehow haven't listened to Autopsy yet, this is doomy gore drenched death metal, with some truly disgusting lyrics and a fuckload of atmosphere. Get on it!!
For fans of: Asphyx, Bolt Thrower, Obituary, Coffins
The Headless Ritual is out now on Peaceville Records
So now I'm back after fucking about and not blogging for a couple of weeks, I already have another review ready to post tomorrow so stay tuned till then. \m/