The Headless Ritual

I’m not sure why it took me two months to crank out a review of Autopsy‘s 6th album, their second since reforming after a near decade layoff, but sometimes I get in a reviewing groove and get a hankering to review something specific. Also A) it’s fucking Autopsy, and B) this albums kills.

While 2011’s Macabre Eternal was a fine comeback album, The Headless Ritual sees Autopsy trim the fat and somehow improve on that lauded release. Part of Autopsy‘s success is that the core trio of Eric Butler, Danny Coralles and Chris Reifert, responsible for the band’s classic first two albums are all here for the reunion. It’s not Reifert cobbling together a comeback with a bunch or nobodies or other famous dudes from other bands. This is still the Autopsy lineup from Severed Survival and Mental Funeral 20 years later, and it that’s why it still sounds like it over 20 years later.

After those classic releases and subsequent albums, Reifert and co somehow open The Headless Ritual with two of the best tracks the band has ever penned within the albums first three cuts: Opener “Slaughter at Beast House” and third simply stunning, epic track “She is a Funeral”, the album’s two longest tracks (6 1/2 and 7 1/2 minutes respectively) manage to compress everything that made the band’s first two releases so timeless. Both tracks contains sinewy, sloppy punky death metal of Severed Survival mixed with crawling fetid doomy moments of Mental Funeral, and recall “Retribution for the Dead”. The tracks are so good, it actually makes listening to the rest of the album difficult, because even though every song is awesome, classic-tinged Autopsy, you keep coming back to these two. For example, poor “Mangled From Below”, sitting squarely between those two monsters, is liable to get skipped, despite a classic, throbbing, old school Autopsy romp.

Reifert is in top form throughout, hacking and gurgling through typically Autopsy inspired lyrics like the surprisingly melodic segue “Thorns and Ashes” and “When Hammer Meets Bone”, but it amazes me that every song from the aforementioned true new classics to the likes of “Coffin Crawlers” and “Running from the Goathead” can be so damn good and relevant when played with such an archaic and familiar stench. “Arch Cadaver” initially reeks of “Torn from the Womb” with a sickly doom ooze before shifting into a twisted high energy expulsion. “Flesh Turns to Dust” delivers an unmistakably Autopsy-ish twisted shamble. Every track sounds and reeks of Autopsy, even with a shinier more visceral production.

After the instrumental title track oozes out of view, it’s hard not to appreciate how Autopsy have easily been one of the most successful reunions that somehow kept their pungent original sound many years later, and still have it sound so fresh.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
August 5th, 2013


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