Autopsy – The Headless Ritual Review

Autopsy // The Headless Ritual
Rating: 3.5/5.0 — Putting the corpse back into death!
Label: Peaceville Records
Websites:  |
Release Dates: EU: Out now!  |  NA: 07.02.2013

autopsy-the_headless_ritualThe Gods of crusty, scabby American death are back yet again! Since their grisly and well-received Macabre Eternal comeback, I’ve been chomping at the bit to hear more new material from the reformed Autopsy. With roots running all the way back to the seminal debut by genre creators Death (Chris Reifert played drums thereon), Autopsy has had an up and down career filled with long lay-offs, breakups and resurrections so it’s always a joy to get a new platter of splatter from them (and I always worry it will be their last). While this was never a band I looked to for innovation and progressive ideas (they’re basically rabid cavemen), Macabre Eternal did incorporate some new bells and whistles into the crust poo of their core sound. The Headless Ritual however sees the band return to the sound of classic albums like Severed Survival and that means raucous, sloppy, Motorhead-ish death metal mixed with ugly doom-grind segments that could crush a tank. From merely maniacal to outright blasphemous, this is yet another Autopsy experience comparable to taking a bath in a tub full of warm guts; it’s disgusting, you feel nauseous and a little horrified that you secretly like it. While their proto-death style isn’t for everyone and those who grew up in the “modern” or “Swedish” death metal eras may find them too old school, freaky or even comical, there’s something about their over-the-top antics that I can never resist. Though it’s a drop from Macabre quality-wise, it’s still another dose of amusing and infectious hospital waste and just what the doctor ordered.

Songs like opener “Slaughter in the Beast House” (wonderous title) are exactly why I love these twisted minds. It jumps between low-rent, primitive death akin to early Massacre over to huge, high-quality dooms riffs that sound exactly like Psalm 9 era Trouble. Reifert’s vocals as utterly berserk, insane and hysterical and he makes the whole thing work. To keep the listener guessing they jump their approach around and numbers like “She is a Funeral” adopt a plodding, ugly pace as Reifert seemingly ad libs endless doses of nightmarish, unhinged blathering (The creepy riff and ritual chants at 4:00 is effective and unnerving). “Coffin Crawlers” adopts buzzy, insectoid riffs and mixes them with crushing doom that approximates a downtrodden, rain-soaked funeral procession as the vocals froth and foam like a lunatic on weekend release.

Other amusing moments can be found during “When Hammer Meets Bone” which is loaded with fun, frenetic riffing and odd guitar squeals that sound like an injured animal. Autopsyautopsy-band-picture channels Toxic Holocaust for some rousing, old school thrash during “Arch Cadaver” and “Running From the Goathead” and the up-shift in tempo is nicely timed. Of the eight songs here (and two instrumentals), only “Flesh Turns to Dust” failed to strike me, though I do appreciate the wacko vocals and riffs that sound just a bit like old Amorphis.

There are more downsides here than on the last album, though none of them really stop me from enjoying it. The riffs aren’t all as sharp and engaging as they were last time, but they come in bunches so you usually aren’t saddled too long with a loser. The song-writing isn’t quite as diverse and powerful as last time either, with too many songs falling back into well-worn Autopsy tricks and trends. Where Macabre Eternal had a lot of different styles on display, this is much more basic “death with some doom” approach. I also could have done without two instrumentals, though both are well done and interesting.

autopsy-band_photo_2013The main attraction with Autopsy is always the freakish vocal performance from Reifert and he doesn’t disappoint here. He screams, shouts, croaks, gurgles, rasps and bleats seemingly at random and usually without much regard for what the rest of the band is doing. While he’s as far from the traditional death metal vocalists as it gets, he provides the charm and the glue that holds this filthy machine together. As a drummer, he’s no slouch either and he thunders away with largely basic, but interesting rhythms and fills. The guitar-work from Eric Cutler and Danny Coralles is generally low-tech and borders on sloppy most of the time, but they uncork some major league doom riffs that really grabbed me and there are several effectively eerie solos and leads scattered about as well.

Forever the leaders in this particular genre of vile, unclean death, Autopsy continues to satisfy the base urges of their depraved audience. If any album can give you cooties, it’s this one, and just look at that awesome cover!! If you’re tired of all the Swedish death and can’t stand anymore melo-death, grab a big piece of this maggoty beast and hold on tight! Mmmm, tastes like pestilence.

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