Death metal legends Autopsy reach back into the crypt for disgusting new ‘Tourniquets’

AutopsyAutopsy really need no introduction. They are one of the bands that helped create the death metal sound (which is now known as old-school death metal…) and are responsible for some of the genre’s most important releases. Bands have followed them not just for their sound but for their horror-themed music, and they deserve endless adulation for the work they have done.

Creating their creepy fun alongside bands such as Carcass, Death, Morbid Angel, Entombed, and many others, they carved a Hall-of-Fame-worthy reputation for themselves and became an unquestioned heavy hitter. But there was a world without an Autopsy for a while, when the band went dormant in 1995 after the somewhat disastrous “Shitfun” record that followed classics including 1989 debut “Severed Survival” and 1991’s “Mental Funeral.” After they disappeared, the death metal world exploded years later, and the sound Autopsy helped cultivate started to grow and spread like a disease. Of course, the other issue is people saw money in death metal, bands went the slick and neat route to move units, and death got to a major watering-down point. For people who liked the true, or old-school, sound, these were disheartening times.

Autopsy coverLuckily, Autopsy were revived in 2008 to do live shows, and the following year they released a 7-inch that marked some of the band’s first new music in nearly a decade and a half. A killer EP “The Tomb Within” followed in 2010, and a year after that their first full-length album since 1995 dropped in the form of “Macabre Eternal,” a great return to form that made longtime fans everywhere bask in its glory. “The Headless Ritual” followed in 2013 to somewhat unenthusiastic response from some (we were fine with it though not totally blown away), and already the band is back with their seventh record, the fittingly titled “Tourniquets, Hacksaws, and Graves,” as well as its properly gross album artwork. If you were disappointed with “Headless” and wanted something more in line with their classic work, you’re in luck. They sound animalistic and furious, and it’s a brutal and fun listen.

Another thing that has kept Autopsy strong is their lineup, three-quarters of which is from their glory days. On vocals and drums is the unmistakable Chris Reifert, whose expression and bloody charisma made him a revered figure in the death metal scene. On guitars are Eric Cutler and Danny Coralles, and on bass is Joe Trevisano, who has been in the fold since 2010 and also played with Reifert and Coralles in Abscess. The guys give you exactly what you want here if you’re a staunch Autopsy fan who prefers the band as they’ve always been. The fact they haven’t changed much over the years isn’t a bad thing at all, as they know what they’re doing, they have a mission, and they execute it well.

The record kicks off with a quick track in “Savagery,” a song that instantly clues you into what this record will be like and how you’ll be brutalized. The vocals are perfectly growly, the guitars sound like they originated in 1990, and the soloing is razor sharp and just a bit out of control. “King of Flesh Ripped” is up next, with gruff, gurgly vocals, a thick slab of doom-infested guitar work, and a menacing approach they pull off perfectly. The title track follows, and the music is choppy and crushing, the vocals monstrous and dangerous, and a devastating thrash section goes right for the throat. “Your heart is bursting in your ugly chest!” Reifert howls, as he’s backed by grimy, glorious guitars. “The Howling Dead” opens with spoken vocals that are dressed with hisses behind them, and the song slowly trickles into doom territory. The back end of the song is faster and pushier, with a nice death tempo taking the track to its end.  “After the Cutting” is doomy and sludgy, working its way through the mud. Then it explodes and becomes gnarly and confrontational, meting out a severe beating the rest of the way. “Forever Hungry” begins ominously, but then the drums near blast beat territory, riffs sprawl all over the place, and one final wave of punishment puts this track in its grave.

“Teeth of the Shadow Horde” sounds like the name of an episode of the old He-Man cartoon (which was unstoppable), and you get a nice serving of violent chugging, nasty vocals that seem aimed to maim, and tortured screaming that cries out at the end, seemingly begging for mercy. “All Shall Bleed” is an instrumental interlude that mixes molten guitars with strange keyboards, and that goes into “Deep Crimson Dreaming,” one of the stranger songs in the Autopsy canon. There are clean guitars that lead into the song, and you’ll find far more melody than one could expect from this band. The vocals remain gurgly, and it does have its heavier moments, but it’s more mesmerizing and mystical than violent. “Parasitic Eye” sinks its teeth back into doom again, with swirling guitars causing tension and nausea, and the vocals sounding like they are choking Reifert to death. “Burial” has mucky riffs, growled/coughed vocals that sound like the pestilence remains from the last song, and more eerie noises that reflect total darkness. Closer “Autopsy” … wait. Yes, they finally have a song named after themselves. Took them long enough. But it’s a great one, with thrashy goodness creating the savagery you want, the vocals piercing and boiling, the guitars leaning toward Black Sabbath worship, and vicious cries that drive right into a feedback bed that ends the song—and the record—on a smoking note.

We need Autopsy in this world to keep the death metal scene honest and to feed us the proper amount of gore and horror that we require. Their return has been pretty rewarding so far, and “Tourniquets, Hacksaws, and Graves” is as good as anything they’ve released since their reformation. Hell, it even compares favorably with some of their classic stuff, which is another reason to be thankful that this band is alive, well, and still killing.

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