It doesn’t take an encyclopedic knowledge of heavy metal to figure out where Foul Body Autopsy draw their name from. Which is good, because I certainly don’t have one. In fact, I didn’t even remember “Foul Body Autopsy” was a Necrophagist song until conducting research for this review, and the first time I actually sat down and listened to Muhammed Suicmez’s legendary tech death project (other than an mp3 of “Stabwound” I ripped from LimeWire circa 2007) was a few days ago when I found myself stuck in an airport terminal for five hours with a dead Kindle. Still, it only took a cursory listen of Onset of Putrefaction to reveal that FBA is far from mere Suicmez worship. But while Perpetuated by Greed is more original than the band moniker suggests, the EP also comes packaged with a crippling flaw that leaves it putrefying on the operating table rather than assuming its own life.
But first, some background. The U.K.-based Foul Body Autopsy is a one-man project begun by multi-instrumentalist Tom Reynolds in 2010. Reynolds has released four EPs under the name, along with a self-titled full length in 2013. Unlike the pinch harmonic, arpeggio-heavy tech-death the project name suggests, FBA play something like technical melodic death metal – picture the riffing style of Arsis or Canada’s Quo Vadis, with guttural vocals. After the requisite thematic sample and ambient buildup, opener “Perpetuated by Greed” kicks right in with a flurry of urgent, melodic riffs that sound both technical, catchy as an STD, and even somewhat thrashy. It’s as if Psycroptic was sped up and played over blastbeats, and while there’s only 90 seconds of actual music on the track, it’s surely just a brief mood-setter for the later, more developed songs – right?
Sadly, no. By second track “Enslaved the Rest of Creation,” Greed’s debilitating issue is revealed, and it’s not grammatically questionable song titles. Simply put, both the riffs and the songs on Greed are criminally underdeveloped. At 60 seconds in length, “Creation” moves from its jumpy opening riff to a great tension-mounting middle, before settling into a terrifically speedy and groovy melody that hints at an awesome progression, before – the song unceremoniously ends. It’s the same story for penultimate track “Devoid of Humanity,” only “Humanity” is both shorter and features less notable riff-work.
At 6 tracks and 11 minutes in length, I think I get what Reynolds is trying to do with this EP – create deathgrind songs composed of technical, melodic riffing rather than the usual demented tremolos and punky chord-bashing. It’s a worthy experiment, but it doesn’t work. Rather than sounding like 90-second treats, these tracks come across more like unfinished snippets of larger songs, with terrific riffs that hint at developments that never happen. These songs are begging for their riffs to be twisted and reinvented over the course of several minutes, or broken up by blistering solos and wild time-signature shifts – instead, they’re presented as-is and end without incident.
It’s a shame, because the quality of the riff-work – particularly on mid-album highlight “Destabilized Perception” – is absolutely superb, if a bit lacking in variety by the end. Additionally, the production is among the best I’ve ever heard in the genre, managing to sound clear, vibrant, and powerful without being clinical or squashed to hell, and with just a hint of grit in the guitar tone. Sadly, the only song that sounds properly written is closer “Complete Environmental Collapse,” which actually progresses over its 4 minute runtime, moving from resonating opening chords through stellar verses to Viraemia-style weedling in its finale. Everything else is like the equivalent of being given a great free sample of something at the grocery store, only to find they’re out of stock of the actual product. Reynolds definitely has some great instrumental chops and an ear for hooky licks, and managed to combine both with much better songwriting on Foul Body Autopsy’s 2013 full-length. With that, let’s just hope Greed was just a failed one-off experiment, a mistake that isn’t repeated in the future. There’s a very good two- or three-song EP that could have been written from this platter of riffs, but this isn’t it.
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Grindscene Records
Website: facebook.com/FoulBodyAutopsyOfficial | foulbodyautopsyofficial.bandcamp.com
Releases Worldwide: February 26th, 2016