Review Summary: Savour every crimson moment
Autopsy’s latest record Skull Grinder
is everything you would usually describe the band’s material as – raw, cavernous, manic, atmospheric, excessively vile and so on. Truth be told, its very existence combined with Autopsy’s legendary status is a better incentive for people to listen to it than any recommendation I could give. It doesn’t do anything particularly new, but the fact remains that Autopsy at their most prosaic are still a match for the majority of death metal bands at their best and most imaginative. So no, Skull Grinder
is not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but if there’s one thing that separates it from the slew of releases we’ve been treated to since the band’s reunion, it’s the impression they’re having more fun recording it than anything they’ve done this side of 2010.
The title track is the perfect mix of death/doom’s oppressive modus operandi, the over-the-top theatrics of ‘80s death metal juxtaposed with acute self-awareness, and the flippant enthusiasm of hardcore punk. While Cutler and Coralles certainly impress with their disfiguring riffs and maniacal, often co-operative guitar solos, the star of the show is Chris Reifert. Describing the man as “possessed”, “insane” or “monstrous” does him no justice whatsoever; he spits and slurs his gruesome mutterings with such depravity that one can’t help but nervously laugh in a sort of horrified glee. However, even amidst all this high-octane debauchery, Autopsy decide to turn down the wick in the second half for something more sinister if a little less entertaining. Still, “The Withering Death” and “Waiting for the Screams” aren’t so much “plodding” as they are lumbering behemoths, devouring all who attempt to obstruct them. Reifert may not be at the forefront this time around, but his presence is nevertheless met with a comical disgust. The inconsistency between each side may leave a little to be desired, but it’s no reason to dismiss Skull Grinder
as anything less than a lively and concise piece of work.
succeeds not because it fulfils any grand ambition on behalf of its creators, but simply because it doesn’t set itself up for failure. A sense of impunity pervades just about every track, which makes it rather difficult to fault or even scrutinise to any serious degree. Competency notwithstanding, Autopsy make it clear this not a release that merits scrupulous dissection; it’s an unapologetic collection of gore-soaked jams, fit for all who wish to bask in its irreverence.