Autopsy – ‘All Tomorrow’s Funerals’ Album Review

If you’re looking for full-on sonic devastation then this beautifully packaged gem from Peaceville legends Autopsy will make you void your digestive tract in pleasure. A twenty-two track noxious blast of poisoned air and blistering guitar work, ‘all tomorrow’s funerals’ features five newly recorded tracks alongside the complete ‘the tomb within’ EP, the ‘horrific obsession’ single, a rare compilation track as well as the ‘fiend for blood’ and ‘retribution for the dead’ EPs all packaged inside a gorgeous digi-book that features shots of the original cover art, band photos, lyrics and liner notes. It is, quite simply, an Autopsy fan’s dream made real.

Four of the five new tracks open proceedings (the final one is reserved to close out the album). Recorded in October 2011, they comprise three original numbers as well as a reworking of the sludge-laden trawl through life’s filth that is ‘mauled to death’ – a track originally aired via the Decibel magazine Flexi disc series and understandably coveted by fans. The title track is up first and it opens with the truly epic sound of what appears to be a gong, before the band unleash a barrage of hateful riffs and furiously overlapping vocals. It is an instant reminder of the poisonous potency of Autopsy, and, complete with horrifically visceral lyrics and a doom-style breakdown towards the song’s conclusion that only makes it sound more powerful, it is a perfect introduction to this collection of dark treats. ‘Broken people’, featuring the excellent lyric “I trample their hopes and their dreams” is a gleeful rampage through sonically terrifying death metal territory and then ‘mauled to death’ is unearthed with its syncopated riffs, sludge-laden tempo and brutal lyrics. It is an awesome song, ripe with the stench of decay and played with an air of menace so often absent from today’s death metal bands. Complex but never compromising the essential heaviness that is Autopsy’s stock in trade, it simply and effectively stakes out Autopsy’s claim as one of the finest exponents of the genre. The last of the new tracks to surface is ‘Maggot holes’ a repulsively brief and expressively vile piece of grim sludge that would not sound out of place on Buzzov*en’s ‘sore’. It perfectly sets the stage for 2010’s ‘the tomb within’ EP which is reproduced in its entirety over the next five tracks and of which the original version is reviewed here suffice it to say that we ended the review with the words “Expect no quarter and track down this thrilling EP if you enjoy all things sickening – this is awesome!”. Although the EP has been re-mastered to bring it into line with the rest of the disc, this was already pretty much sonically perfect so owners of the original will notice little variance from that almighty disc.

Harder to find are the two tracks taken from 2008’s ‘horrific obsession’ single. Mixed by long-term collaborator Adam Munoz (who also dealt with the new tracks and ‘the tomb within’) the sound is certainly not lacking in punch although it’s noticeable that the drums are more prominent and the guitars rather tinnier – adopting an almost chainsaw sound that will be popular with fans of Darkthrone. The track sees the band unleashing a truly twisted tale of necrophilia and lust over a clattering backdrop that will have the fans writhing in ecstasy while its attendant B side is no less horrific.

It is now that we start to get to the real meat of this collection – rare and out-of-print songs and EPs from the band’s early 90’s period. Hurtling back to 1991 we find the brilliantly titled ‘funereality’ culled from a long-deleted peaceville compilation (‘Vol. 4’). As drawn out, agonising and as nauseating as death from a gangrene-infected wound, it’s a worthy inclusion to the set and is as harrowing as Autopsy songs come.

Still in the long-lost days of 1991 we move on to the six-track ‘Fiend for blood’ EP which opens with the ultra-brief title track before moving on to ‘Keeper of decay’, a song that starts out initially at light speed before slowing down to a blood and mud caked crawl through the mind of a degenerate who collects roadkill. ‘Squeal like a pig’ contains the immortal opening line “Squeal, you worthless piece of f**k before I make you die…” and somehow manages to become less pleasant as the song progresses – an awesome lead played over a slowed-down backdrop is simply the icing on the cake and the track is certainly a highlight of this portion of the album. The sound quality here, although marginally more restricted due to the age of the recording, is sonically powerful and the re-mastering has certainly not, as the band point out, ruined anything. ‘Ravenous freaks’ has a mind-blowing opening riff that never fails to excite and again it contains some brilliant lyrical gems as it relates a darkly humorous tale of cannibalism – “a horrid stench you do behold, the one of rot, mildew and mold, as a cretin grabs ahold your testicles.”  ‘A different kind of mindf**k’ take ths opposite tack – a terrifying monologue that takes you into the mind of a sadistic pervert, whilst the music provides an appropriately vicious backdrop. The final track – ‘dead hole’ references Black Sabbath and deals once more with the subject of necrophilia with lyrics so graphic they will make even the most avid gore hound pause for thought. Further proof, as if any were needed, that this is an essential collection for any extreme metal fan.

Finally we find ourselves all the way back in 1990 for the three-track ‘retribution of the dead’ EP which is remarkable in its sonic clarity and gloriously heavy. The title track is a blinder, but top marks must surely go to ‘Destined to fester’, a torrid tale of death and decay narrated by the recently deceased. As mind-numbingly brutal as you could wish, with the music veering between death and doom, it’s the perfect antidote to the ass of over-produced, over-hyped so-called metal bands that climb the charts these days, and if you missed out on these EPs the first time then this collection will prove a gold-mine. ‘In the grip of winter’ is the final word from this time-capsule and it is no less inspirational than the tracks which proceeded it marking out ‘All tomorrow’s funeral’s’ as a compilation that remarkably has no obvious weak points – no wonder the band boldly state in the liner notes that “We still stand 100% behind all this material” – it still sounds phenomenal some twenty years on, both musically and production-wise and in a perfect world Autopsy would follow up this collection with a tour including all of the tracks from this album in order – what a treat that would be! One final track close the album itself – the last piece form the 2011 sessions, ‘sign of the corpse’ promises still more sickness to come and shows that the Autopsy story is, thankfully, far from over.

This is a brilliant collection. A chance to gather together, not only all the band’s old material and rarities, but also some new material in one beautifully designed package, praise is surely due to both band and record label for producing a set so obviously created with the fans in mind. With liner notes from a variety of metal luminaries, an introductory note from the band themselves and just over seventy minutes of music, even if you already own a couple of these EPs, it is a great opportunity to gather them together in one place. Autopsy are a band who more than deserve their legendary status and if this compilation proves anything it is that they have produced consistently great material and that their return to action is no mere re-treading of old ground. The new material here sits proudly alongside the older work and both lyrically and musically it holds its own. There are few bands who have the passion and pride for their work that Autopsy do and this disc is essential whether you are new to the Autopsy story and wondering where to start or if you are an old hand who missed out on a few of their early releases. Absolutely dumbfounding, ‘all tomorrow’s funerals’ is a dark, sickening, ride into the very heart of darkness – don’t get left behind!

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