I was pretty excited to hear that Autopsy, the Californian masters of brutality, were set to release their sixth studio album, the cornucopia of horror madness, 'The Headless Ritual', having been satiating my ears with their 2012 compilation 'All Tomorrow's Funerals', the stop gap between this latest offering and 2011s rather excellent, 'Macabre Eternal'.
The band's tantalizing statement about this album; "Expect nothing less than the monstrous brutality that Autopsy has been known to offer. Laurels will not be rested upon, trends will not be followed and mercy will not be shown... Pick out a coffin to lie down and die in. Darkness and death await...", is a bold one indeed, but you will find that this album does exactly what it says on the tin.
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Autopsy, still consisting of Chris Reifert, Eric Cutler, Danny Coralles, and Joe Trevisano, have created in 'The Headless Ritual', an absolute monster of violent and brutal Death Metal mastery brought to you with that unmistakable Autopsy style, awash with chaotic riffs, excitingly insane solos and doom-filled interludes, bloodily bandaged together with Chris Reifert's excellent unhinged sick vocal style.
All the elements throughout the album, the guitars, vocals and drum work are of a consistently high standard, running like a well oiled, crazy machine and each one of the ten tracks, although following Autopsy's classic formula, are individual and unique in their own right and packed with atmosphere. I have no favourite as every track is of the same level of sick excellence.
The album opens with the frantic, fun filled, frenzy, 'Slaughter At Beast House' and continues with 'Mangled Far Below', with its catchy dark plodding beat, a very blackened track with one of the many great guitar segments to be found across the album, sinister yet so enjoyable and with a tremendous atmosphere to the excellent vocals coming from the phrasing and intonation.
With its sonic, ear tormenting opener; 'She Is A Funeral' brings you more blackened riffs to sit alongside the harrowing vocals. The sinister opening riffs on 'Coffin Crawlers' build and pan out into insane, semi spoken, ranting vocals and deranged screams, with drawn out guitar work that sounds almost like a crazy saxophone in places.
'When Hammer Meets Bone' is a frantic and insane pounder with a catchy repeat riff. Short and sharp at under two minutes, 'Thorns And Ashes' is an atmosphere building track. The opening riffs paint a sinister image in your mind, which continues throughout, on 'Arch Cadaver'. A dark and evil repeat riff that rises and falls menacingly on 'Flesh Turns To Dust' and is accentuated by a dark echo to the vocals, a slower, very powerful track.
'Running From The Goathead' is frantic and terrifying in its construct, feel afraid, feel very afraid! Finally the closing track, the instrumental 'The Headless Ritual' opens slowly and with a sinister feel expanding out into a dark doom laden hypnotic riff, a wonderfully harrowing conclusion to an excellent album.
Very few bands, after splitting or taking an extended hiatus should reform, but for me Autopsy are one of the few exceptions to this rule. None of the magic is lost, having first proved this fact with 'Macabre Eternal' and they now reinforcing that decision with this excellent offering, their best album to date.
The album was recorded and mixed at Fantasy Studios in California with Adam Munoz, and the cover artwork is by Joe Petagno (Motörhead, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin).