This Autopsy article was written by Bethan Brace, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Josh Hummerston. Artwork by Kev Walker.
Hailed as one of the pioneering forces behind the death/doom metal movement, Autopsy remind us that they are still the undisputed masters of gore metal with ‘Skull Grinder’. Despite lacking the chilling level of atmospheric horror heard in their pre-hiatus offerings, the band still supply listeners with the snarling vocals and savage riffs they’ve been delivering since 1987. Their determination to remain true to the original style of death metal is clear, and whilst it can’t contend with the perfection of albums such as ‘Mental Funeral’, ‘Skull Grinder’ still delivers the brutality and depravity fans know and love.
The title track ‘Skull Grinder’ perfectly delivers the aggressive and creepy strain of metal that is classic of Autopsy, making it one of the stand-out tracks of the album. Distorted and shearing guitars accompany growling vocals, conjuring up an atmosphere of malevolence and horror which perfectly expresses the band’s often gruesome lyrics.
Contrasting with the thrash elements of the album, ‘The Withering Dead’ begins spine-chillingly slowly, before developing into an insanely heavy and macabre masterpiece, providing a new satanic dimension to the listening experience.
Despite the dark beauty of the majority of the album, some tracks seem to play into a more commercial metal stereotype. The opening thrash riff of ‘Children of the Filth’ almost has a feel of industrial metal to it. However, Chris Reifert’s primal vocals soon remind the listener of the band’s deep-set doom roots.
The musical equivalent of a saw to the head, ‘Skull Grinder’ launches an assault on the senses that doesn’t disappoint. With no deviation from their usual gory style, Autopsy seem to be once again pushing the boundaries of how sick and twisted music can get. Whilst this harrowing LP may not quite live up to some of Autopsy’s grisly and gruesome creations of the past, it remains to be a beautifully twisted addition to the world of death metal.
‘Skull Grinder’ is out now via Peaceville Records.