Review Summary: The kings of grotesque old school death metal are back with full force.
Formed by drummer/vocalist Chris Reifert in 1987 after he left Death, Autopsy had a mission to make the most grotesque, disturbing and most of all heavy music around. For the most part, they were successful. The band's first two albums, Severed Survival
and Mental Funeral
, are two of death metal's finest and most influential albums. After releasing two less-acclaimed, punk-influenced albums in Acts of the Unspeakable
, Autopsy hung it up in 1995. However, the band reformed in 2009, and last year they released the solid if unspectacular EP The Tomb Within
. Just eight months later, the band has produced an hour-long album. Although the length is daunting for a band that normally hovers around 40 minutes, Autopsy more than make up for lost time.
Chris Reifert - Drums, vocals
Eric Cutler - Guitars, vocals
Danny Coralles - Guitars
Joe Allen - Bass
The most noticeable difference between Macabre Eternal
and Autopsy's classic albums is the production. This being 2011, Macabre Eternal
is much less muddy-sounding than the band's two-decade-old landmarks. However, the album still has a very raw sound that captures the brutality and power of Cutler's and Coralles' riffs, as opposed to the sterile atmosphere that has marred albums such as Atheist's Jupiter
. Joe Allen's bass does not have the same gut-punching tone that Steve DiGiorgio and Steve Cutler had in the past, but its presence is thick and strong, especially on the intro of "Bridge of Bones." Reifert's drum tone has been beefed up as well. While not over-powering, his fills sound like they're being played with hammers. Reifert has also increased his vocal pallet, adding a sickening low growl to his always-effective mid-range snarl, maximizing the effect of his over-the-top lyrics (see "Dirty Gore Whore").
Although the 12-song 65-minute run time may lead to an expectation of filler, Macabre Eternal
is relentless from the opening notes of "Hand of Darkness" and never stops its death/doom assault. With the exception of a brief acoustic section in "Bridge of Bones" and the melodic parts of "Sadistic Gratification," every moment on this album is heavy as all hell, whether it's played at the neck-breaking pace of "Hands of Darkness" or the devastating groove of "Bludgeoned and Brained." Every track is a keeper that matches up well with the band's classic material.
Although Autopsy is known for keeping things simple, the band experiments a little with the 11-minute penultimate track, "Sadistic Gratification." Beginning with a haunting guitar harmony, the song quickly moves into a fast, punishing set of riffs, drum fills and growls for five minutes. After a brief pause, the bass re-enters and the song comes back to an extended version of its intro. At around seven-and-a-half minutes, Reifert delivers a harsh spoken-word section which is joined by a woman's screams of pain. "I feel no remorse for you," he says. "Your death brings me pleasure." It is a moment so perfectly cheesy that you can't help but either love it or hate it. Any true death metal fan will appreciate this, and anyone who doesn't should really just avoid the genre entirely. It's not often that a band takes more than 20 years to release their first song of this length, but Autopsy's first epic is a gem.
Although "Sadistic Gratification" seems like a perfect closer, the band seems to have chosen the thrasher "Spill My Blood" as a closer to remind the listener that this is still an old school death metal album. After a bridge containing a classic Reifert vocal meltdown, the song goes into a slow and heavy signature Autopsy moment before resuming 20 seconds of pure speed, bringing the album full-circle.
is a vicious comeback album that far exceeds the expectations of any band in a similar situation. Any young death metal band (or rejuvenated veteran band) should look to Reifert and company as a source of inspiration and a lesson in how to make balls-out, no-frills death metal or death/doom. Autopsy are really back, folks. Brace yourselves.