It’s uncanny just how good Autopsy is at perfecting the thick, murky old-school death metal sound that is rampant throughout Mental Funeral
. Its wide array of distorted, down-tuned riffs make a wonderful foundation that the other instruments build on, and it’s slower, more deliberate pace makes for an atmosphere which is both suffocating but also spot-on for the style of death metal that Autopsy plays. The muddy riffing in songs like “Torn From The Womb” display exactly what makes Mental Funeral
a death metal gem, albeit a hidden one. The numerous guitar solos throughout the twelve tracks toss a curveball to the otherwise crawling tempo, but also add an untold amount of variety which helps bridge the gap between the prevalent slow riffing and the occasional frantic pickup which is used often to bring songs to a sweeping close.
It’s really the constant shifting of pace which makes the album so interesting, because the shorter songs pack a punch despite the track length (the opener “Twisted Mass Of Burnt Decay” being a fine example), while the sheer weight of songs like “In The Grip Of Winter” play around with a style that is more simplistic but equally heavy, if not more so. The bass isn’t afraid to come to the forefront either, laying down more than one impressive solo that keeps things both varied and interesting. Also, a noticeable amount of memorable riffs work their way in behind the deep growls that comprise the vocal department. The vocals are absolutely perfect for the style of death metal performed on Mental Funeral
, they are deep and throaty but not unnecessarily guttural and aren’t spewed out at an alarmingly fast pace. Instead, we are presented with a vocal display that is reminiscent of Dan Swano if he grew a little more hair on his balls. However, on tracks like “Hole In The Head”, vocalist and drummer Chris Reifert raises the pitch occasionally, adding another dimension to the sound entirely.
It’s hard to deny the doom metal influences on Mental Funeral
, seeing as many of the riffs carry with them such homage to the genre. Indeed, the work Autopsy put into Mental Funeral
was inspired by Chicago’s doom metal pioneers Trouble. However, the mix of both genres works wonders, paving a layer of extremely heavy chords underneath the overlying technicality of the solos and a handful of the riffs. This helps show off the variation in the drums, which go from performing fast, tight fills and double bass to slow crashing of cymbals and the steady rhythm of the snare and right back again. Sandwiched between the tracks are a few short instrumental pieces that add atmosphere (“Fleshcrawl”), a complete ass kicking (just listen to the insane drumming on “Bonesaw”, easily the most intense track on the album), as well as a hint of ambiance (“Mental Funeral”) to the album.
The quality of the songwriting and musicianship on Mental Funeral
is top-notch, and it’s hard to ignore just how brilliant the final product is. Despite a running time which turns out to be a tad too long, and maybe a filler track or two, the music displayed on Mental Funeral
shows exactly how awesome death metal should be done. It doesn’t get nearly as much recognition as it deserves, but I think that is something which makes Mental Funeral
so interesting. That a record of this quality could be released in 1991 and not have a plethora of death metal fans all over it is confusing, but when it comes down to it Autopsy could have competed with even the biggest names in the genre with Mental Funeral