Autopsy is pretty much the sickest music in existence. If the name, album covers, song titles, and logo don’t give it away, this band is about everything that is disgusting and wrong. Listening to these guys is a ritualistic experience that is unmatched by any other band. Amazingly, the band put out a comeback record that was on par with their old material. The only major shortcoming of “Macabre Eternal” was how long it was. At just 44 minutes, “The Headless Ritual” has already solved that issue, and now it’s just a matter of writing more quality music.
The good news is that “The Headless Ritual” is largely similar to the previous album. The riffs are groovy and dripping with the skin-crawling atmosphere that only Autopsy can produce. Chris Reifert’s vocals are as mangled as ever. He manages to retain his deep voice but still be fairly understandable, except when he is giving a ghastly scream. The versatility in his voice is impressive, and it helps prevent this record from being monotonous. Guitar solos are plentiful and come straight from the school of Slayer. They are energetic, at times make no sense musically, but fit the music perfectly. The songwriting bears a couple of surprises to the seasoned Autopsy fan. “She Is A Funeral” features several tapping melodies unlike anything I’ve heard from the band before. It’s great to hear an old-school death metal band embrace a bit of 80’s influence in their music. The next track, “Coffin Crawlers”, opens with one of the strangest, most haunting melodies in all of death metal. It sounds like it was ripped straight from a horror movie. While this section eventually dissolves, it returns at the end of the track before the more upbeat “When Hammer Meets Bone” begins. At less than 2 minutes, “Thorns and Ashes” is the soundtrack of impending doom. These kind of leads appear frequently on this record, as Autopsy appears to be putting more focus than ever on finding melodies that are pure evil.
Despite these differences, “The Headless Ritual” is a strange record for Autopsy in that the sound is largely similar to the prior record. With their first four albums, each one was very distinctive from what preceded it. Even “Macabre Eternal” had a different feel; it was a more modern sounding version of the band that combined all of their best influences from the first three albums. Ultimately, however, “The Headless Ritual” is very satisfying as it shows the band settling into a sound that works well for them. There certainly isn’t an overabundance of this style of music yet, and even if that comes in the future, no one will do it better than Autopsy.
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"Mangled Far Below"
"She Is A Funeral"
4.2/5 or 84%.
Written by Scott