Embryonic Autopsy – Prophecies of the Conjoined Review

Listen to this record and it might just put a baby in you. Not by the traditional means, interesting though it might be to imagine those mechanics. Instead, Arizona’s Embryonic Autopsy debut with a concept album about the experiments, designed to birth human/alien hybrids, that may or may not have been performed at Area 51.1 With songs like “Telekinetic Insemination” and “Craving of the Mutated Fetus,” these gentlemen have a very specific kind of breeding on the brain. The sci-fi milieu, and some elements of the music, put this offering of brutal death metal squarely in Artificial Brain territory. As an avowed fan of those Long Island mind-benders, I was excited to yank this platter free from the muck of the promo sump.2 Is Prophecies of the Conjoined a healthy birth, or could it have used more time in the womb of its host organism?

Embryonic Autopsy play a musically adept strain of brutal death, but the wonk factor never rises to the level of “tech.” Soupy riffs burble over a punishing rhythm section, with drums that feel like a reflex hammer tapping incessantly against your skull. It’s all a playground for the vocals of Tim King–his growls, alien and menacing, match the concept perfectly. Solos, many of them ripped off by a series of notable guest axemen, pop up to lend a hint of melody to the proceedings. The style echoes the halcyon days of the nineties when early editions of bands like Aborted and Suffocation pioneered the subgenre and harvested souls throughout the land. The retro flourishes make sense–Tim King fronted Oppressor, a tech-death act who hovered at the edges of the scene and released three albums from 1991 to 1999. King may have spent the last twenty years in death metal hypersleep. but the man hasn’t lost his edge.3 Prophecies of the Conjoined is a gnarly beast indeed, a savage good time that marks this foursome as an outfit to watch.

The band isn’t synthesizing anything original in this laboratory, but quality execution and a knack for introducing flashes of variety keep Prophecies of the Conjoined suspended above the pack. The solos are especially effective, as the band imports a gaggle of ringers to keep the Bunsen burner turned up under these songs. James Murphy of TestamentObituary, and motherfucking Death lays down hot fire on “Cauterized Womb Impalement,” while Terrance Hobbs from Suffocation does likewise on opener “Regurgitated and Reprocessed.” The four guest shots, had they been done poorly, could easily have felt like mercenary work-for-hire. Instead, each one is a bespoke addition that enhances the song where it appears. Elsewhere, King deploys a range of techniques that keep his vocals fresh over the album’s run time. He can bark and gibber like he’s singing for caveman metal act Becerus (“Telekinetic Insemination”), or drop in patches of spoken word that actually add menacing atmosphere (“Upon the Mayan Throne” and “Prophecies of the Conjoined”). It’s a bravura display of puked-up anti-singing that’s especially impressive coming off a twenty-year break.

While there isn’t much that stands out as “wrong” here, this forced injection of alien DNA never rises to the level of excellence. The album pummels you for thirty-five minutes, but when the assault is over you’re not left with any standout moments. There’s no lowlight among the nine proper songs on offer, but neither is there one worth adding to a playlist. To put it another way: Prophecies of the Conjoined might leave you feeling like your face has been smashed with a hammer, but it will not leave you with a “Hammer Smashed Face.”

Embryonic Autopsy burst out of the gate with committed performances and a pleasingly batshit concept. If they can stick their songwriting in the incubator for a spell, the band could carve out an interesting space for themselves in the death metal scene. If you choose to open your mind, or your womb, to Embryonic Autopsy as they stand right now, you still won’t be sorry. Prophecies of the Conjoined may not register a perfect Apgar score, but there’s plenty to like about this misshapen newborn.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Massacre Records
Website: facebook.com/embryonicautopsy
Releases Worldwide: February 18, 2022

Show 3 footnotes

  1. No such experiments were performed.
  2. Fun fact: yer man Ferox was thanked in the liner notes to Infrared Horizon for services to Brain-dom.
  3. Tim King actually spent the past two decades playing bass in Soil, the alt-metal act that spun off from Oppressor.
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