Review Summary: Autopsy return with an album that is more chaotic and monstrous than their last. Don't lose your head on the way down to hell...
When Autopsy returned in 2010 to release the long-awaited release “The tomb within”, a great wave of euphoria immediately washed over the global Death Metal fan-base, and there were probably quite a few who wet themselves in anticipation of the fact that Autopsy were heading into the studio to record a new album, “Macabre eternal”. Despite the album’s unnecessary length and Reifert’s vocals making him sound like he was choking most of the time, it signalled the band’s return to the gore-drenched, manically extreme sounds of their earlier albums. Two years later, the band are ready to unleash their next wave of murderous anthems, all participating in the sadistic event that is “The headless ritual”.
There’s nothing that the band haven’t done here to make “The headless ritual” every bit as solid and precise as possible. The sound is perfectly sludgy, the instrumentation is death-defyingly extreme and Reifert’s maniacal vocal effects are as horrific as ever. The band rip straight through the more straightforward likes of ‘Mangled far below’ and ‘Arch cadaver’, both Danny Coralles and Eric Cutler providing the most soul-wrenching of guitar effects, whilst Reifert and Trevisano channel the obliterating drum and bass work into oblivion, punching through opener ‘Slaughter at beast house’ and equally as disturbing ‘Flesh turns to dust’. The sound on “The headless ritual” is nothing special, but is certainly as consistent and solid as any other Autopsy album.
However, it’s really on songs such as ‘Slaughter at beast house’, ‘She is a funeral’ or ‘When hammer meets bone’ that the band really experiment with what they have. The opening song kicks into gear with a somewhat more technical sound than ever before, Coralles and Cutler being precise with their instruments and in fact adding a touch of melancholy to the song. Whilst the longest song, ‘She is a funeral’ may prove too much for some, it excels with those somewhat strangely placed guitar effects at the beginning and the fact that Coralles and Cutler both explore different guitar styles throughout. At times, as Reifert screams “I heard her call/Her funeral moans/I was transfixed/She took my soul”, the sound is as sludgy and deadly as ever, whereas later on, when Reifert takes on a more narrative role whilst groaning “Grey mist, death kiss/In the ground six feet of darkness sighed/Drifting down, I heard her laugh/As the maggots squirmed between her thighs”, the sound is much more technical, the bass and drums bringing more and more tension to an otherwise solid and explosive song that reaches its peak right at the end, an instrumental jam that shows the band are not lacking in effort or expertise.
Reifert’s vocals are certainly divisive, especially on the band’s latter material (Those who have listened to “Macabre eternal” will know what I’m getting at), yet here he has quite a range whilst at the same time staying memorably and terrifyingly horrific. The guy can really scream on the Horror-themed ‘Coffin crawlers’ and ‘Running from the goathead’, yet on the songs that build up to a murderously heavy outcome (‘When hammer meets bone’ and ‘Arch cadaver’), his voice is as deep and deadly as the bowels of hell. There are times when he can be a little too confident in his voice, particularly when keeping up his growls for an unnecessarily long time on ‘Mangled far below’ and ‘She is a funeral’, but this is simply all part of the package.
Yes, ‘Slaughter at beast house’ and ‘She is a funeral’ may be longer than they should, and Reifert’s vocals aren’t ever going to change for anybody, but what Autopsy have created here is a more chaotic, more frenzied monster than “Macabre eternal”, an album that very rarely lets up on its explosive madness and gore-drenched sounds. If ever you want anything half as good as the band’s first two albums, it will doubtlessly be this.