April 22, 2021

Autopsy - Acts of The Unspeakable (1992)

*U.K. first pressing. 
Contains 18 tracks total.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Death Doom
Label Number: VILE 33 CD

© 1992 Peaceville
"Acts of the Unspeakable" is the 3rd full-length studio album by US death metal act Autopsy. The album was released through Peaceville Records in October 1992. Josh Barohn has replaced Steve Cutler as the band´s new bassist, but other than that, the lineup who recorded "Mental Funeral (1991)" is still intact. While Autopsy never achieved anything resembling mainstream fame or any noteworthy commercial success (which counts for most death metal acts out there), they were one of the more prolific acts on the death metal scene of the early 90s. Not in top 10 maybe, but close enough. Much of that success was due to the high quality of "Mental Funeral (1991)" which was an almost instant underground death metal classic of the most raw, filthy, and old school kind, so expectations amongs the fans were pretty high for the successor. Autopsy were never out to please anyone though and they tread their own path with "Acts of the Unspeakable", which is ultimately quite a different sounding album to it´s predecessor.

Graced with a cover artwork, with what can best be described as an evil cartoonish enterpretation of hell (obviously influenced by Hieronymus Bosch), we are made aware from the get go, that Autopsy haven´t changed their gory lyrical universe and if anyone should be in doubt, song titles like "Necrocannibalistic Vomitorium", "Battery Acid Enema", or maybe "Orgy in Excrements" will probably convince them otherwise. The vocals are as always delivered in a rather personal, rot filled, and insanity laden growling vocal style by drummer/vocalist Chris Reifert. So far...so good. This is how we know and love/hate Autopsy.

The actual music is a bit different than the old school death metal with doomy leanings that Autopsy played on "Mental Funeral (1991)" though. Stylistically the music on "Acts of the Unspeakable" has taken a turn down deathgrind boulevard although the album still features mid-paced and doomy sections. And by deathgrind I don´t mean blast beat dominated grindcore, because there are no actual blast beats on "Acts of the Unspeakable", just fast played sections, but it´s the aestethics of the music and the occasionally more simple punky tinged riffs that point in that direction. The tracks have also become much shorter and there are the whole 18 of them on the 35:19 minutes long album. Some of them less than a minute long, and most between 1 and 2 minutes long. So the tracks are not given much time to develop and compositionally the music on the album is generally a lot less intriguing and adventurous than the case was on "Mental Funeral (1991)". Sometimes it feels like the band hit the rehearsal room, played half a song and then recorded it for the album, without fully developing the music.

The sound production is not especially powerful sounding. It´s relatively raw and murky without losing clarity, but it seriouly lacks punch. Especially the guitars are buried in the mix and it´s a real shame as I´m sure the final outcome would have been a lot more interesting had the album featured a better sound production.

A bit more variation between tracks could also have done the trick, because that´s also a complaint here. This is old school death metal, so I don´t expect the diversity level to be extremely high (and wouldn´t want it to be), but there are far too many of the 18 tracks that don´t make an impression and don´t stick either. In that respect "Acts of the Unspeakable" is a pretty one-dimensional release, and when the more doomy sections with guitar harmonies appear it´s like you´ve been given a straw to hold on to. But those sections are too few and far between, and when they finally occur, they are always cut short.

It´s obvious that Autopsy were still searching for a sound that would please themselves at this point and in doing that they more or less disregarded what most of their fans were screaming for (which was more of that filthy old school doomy death metal), and it´s safe to say that "Acts of the Unspeakable" was not the successor to "Mental Funeral (1991)" that most people had hoped for. When that is said and all complaints are filed, it´s actually still a pretty great old school death metal album with a pretty unique sound. It has trouble maintaining my attention through the duration of the album, because not enough of the tracks stand out, but a 3 - 3.5 star (65%) rating is still deserved.

tags: autopsy, acts of the unspeakable, 1992, flac,

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