When listening to music, the first thing I expect from a band is, for them to provide enough variations, either in terms of composition, song writing, pace shifts etc., that would keep me hooked to the music that they are delivering. While a few bands manage to do that now and then, some bands have been doing it throughout their career, in almost all their releases. One such band, is the legendary Death Metal band, Autopsy.
Autopsy is a Death Metal band hailing from Concord, California, USA. Founded in 1986, this band was instrumental in establishing the genre of Death Metal, when the genre was just in its infant stages. Their sixth album (their second full length after reuniting in 2009) titled, ‘The Headless Ritual’, was released on 24th June, 2013, through Peaceville Records.
Fans who are familiar with Autopsy’s previous releases, would be quite familiar with their method of keeping the tempo changes and variations as the main attraction. For those who have no clue about what I’m talking about here, let me explain. Autopsy play a brand of Death Metal, where one minute, they are unleashing fast, punk influenced tunes and the very next minute, they brake hard and attempt to pummel the listener into the ground with heavy doom influenced sections.
I, personally, have always been a fan of Autopsy’s speed and brake style of playing. This trend continues in this album too. Compared to their previous release, ‘Macabre Eternal’, they have toned down the amount of experimentation, opting for a straight up Death Metal approach. This album offers a lot of good tunes with quite a lot of head bang-able riffs, which ultimately ends up invoking a sense of nostalgia. This is far from their best work, that being Mental Funeral. None the less, this album offers a lot of solid moments that make up for a good Death Metal release.
Coming to the musicianship on the album, the guitar duo of Eric Cutler and Danny Coralles offer some fast and pacy riffs that have a very Punk feel to them, when they are not crushing bones with their heavy Doom riffs. The songs themselves share a great variety among them, ranging heavy crushers like ‘Slaughter At Beast House’ to thrashy ones like ‘When Hammer Meets Bone’. Then there are those tracks (‘She Is A Funeral’, ‘Coffin Crawlers’, ‘The Headless Ritual’) that would fit perfectly within the soundtrack of a horror flick. The guitar solos are very Punk Rock influenced and immensely enjoyable. The rhythm guitar does a marvelous job in creating a eerie and creepy atmosphere.
The drumming is something that stands out in this album. Chris Reifert, is one of those few drummer who also take up the main vocal duties. The drumming here is not the kind where it is pretty much double bass oriented and rips in a very fast pace. Rather, the drumming here is accurate and precise, with the drummer giving only what is needed, at the right moment. Yet, the amount of intricate fills and the variety that he injects into this type of accurate drumming is brilliant indeed. The vocals are his usual brand of growls, but this time, there is more high end shrieking than ever before.
The bass does not stay constant in the mix. Sometimes it sounds too low and at times, it sounds too high. But overall, the bassist Joe Trevisano, powers the overall tone, contributing to the much needed heaviness. The production does justice to the music, where the old school feel is retained and all the instruments sound very organic.
As enjoyable as this album is, it feels like its all been done before. Had the band continued in the same vein as their previous release, it would have been a different story. But the band chose to return to their signature sound. That being said, The Headless Ritual is a solid release that features the classic sound of Autopsy.