April 22, 2021

Autopsy - Mental Funeral (1991)

*First pressing. 
Contains 12 tracks total.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Death Doom
Label Number: VILE 25 CDX

© 1991 Peaceville
At a time when many of his band's better-known contemporaries (Death, Sepultura, Morbid Angel, etc.) were putting all their energies into finessing the death metal genre in numerous different ways, Autopsy's sophomore album, Mental Funeral, took the opposite route, reflecting bandleader, vocalist, and drummer Chris Reifert's oft-stated goal to create the "sickest shit imaginable." That's not to say it wasn't groundbreaking in its own perverse way, though, and we're not talking about the gory lyrics or slightly improved production standards either, but rather Reifert and company's apparent discovery of doom metal. Album opener "Twisted Mass of Burnt Decay" may rip into action at a manic pace, but it steadily downshifts in tempo to pave the way for a slew of form-challenging death/doom creepers -- most notably the spine-freezing "In the Grip of Winter," grossly distasteful "Torn from the Womb," and organ necrotizing "Destined to Fester." When the band does give vent to its adrenalin (see grindcore exercise "Bonesaw") or wavers back and forth between blistering and slothful extremes, the results can be both stunning (see the glorious "Robbing the Grave") and self-indulgent (the overlong "Hole in the Head"), but they're certainly never easy to predict. Meanwhile, Reifert shows the same range on his battle-scarred vocals as he does behind his kit, spanning the decibels between bowel-vacating croaks through spleen-bursting shrieks, and so do guitarists Eric Cutler and Danny Coralles, whose savage, remorseless rhythm parts are frequently at odds with their agile, melodic leads. Sadly, while it won over as many fans as it pissed off upon release, Mental Funeral arguably confused an even greater number of consumers, turning Autopsy into death metal's ultimate love/hate band, the one no one seemed able to agree on -- not least the bandmembers themselves, as a series of increasingly inconsistent and controversial albums that brought on a speedy demise just a few years later would soon show.

tags: autopsy, mental funeral, 1991, flac,

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