The fans have demanded the return of “Death Metal Tuesday,” and I am happy to oblige. I will attempt to make this a weekly blog where I celebrate the music of my adolescence, young adulthood, and yes... Currently.
Autopsy - Mental Funeral (1991)
Our first entry is an American, old school death metal (OSDM) entry from San Francisco’s Autopsy. The creative engine behind this act is drummer / vocalist, Chris Reifert. Reifert played drums on Death’s debut album, Scream Bloody Gore. That gives Autopsy some street-cred with the death metal crowd right away, because Reifert played on what many consider one of the genre’s first offerings.
Mental Funeral is the follow up to 1989’s debut, Severed Survival. The two albums are similar in that they both boost the same bare-bones production and primitive approach to songwriting. Autopsy can sound like a band jamming in their garage at times, but that truly is their charm. Their raw sound and affectionate mingling of some punk elements would prove influential in the Swedish death metal movement which was going full swing by the time 1991 came around.
Mental Funeral slows things down a bit compared to the band’s debut. There are moments when the music is so slow, you almost have to bang your head in slo-mo along with the music. The first groove of Dead is a good example of this, ditto the closing moments of In the Grip of Winter, perhaps the albums best track. Don't be mistaken though, the band hauls ass too - Hole in the Head and Destined to Fester both have some pretty blazing moments. There are also 3 songs under a minute in length which kind of sound like improvised death metal jams, but they're pretty epic, particularly Bonesaw.
Guitar duo Cutler and Coralles play with harmony a lot, and I mean, a lot. They love that fourth interval harmony - sounds very sinister in their duo leads. Reifert takes the “Cookie Monster” approach to his vocals, but there are times that he screeches and sounds truly tortured. There is also a fair amount of reverb on his vocals that give them that old school sound that is just so lovely to my ears.
This is a sludgy, doom-filled, beast of an album. You truly feel like you’ve been through something after it is all said and done. It definitely has some doom elements in there and was not doubt a key influence in that movement as well. Autopsy are held in deep regard as a vital founding member of the death metal genre. They were never a favorite of mine, but I do appreciate their approach and ethos. Mental Funeral gets 3 out 5 Skullies.