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Macabre Eternal

Peaceville (2011)
Rating: 8.5/10

One of my favourite extreme metal bands of all time make a welcome, proper return in 2011 after more than a decade out of action. San Francisco’s Autopsy – consisting of Chris Reifert (vocals and drums), Danny Coralles (guitar), Eric Cutler (guitar) and, since 2010, drummer Joe Tevisano – were considered one of the sickest death metal bands to walk the planet. Their brand of almost droll-sounding gore metal first infected our ears back in 1989 with their debut platter of splatter Severed Survival, and since then have been chomping at our flesh like some persistent zombie.

Macabre Eternal continues the ghoulish flesh feast, a down-tuned, festering piece of meat dined on by flies until it dries up in the form of closer ‘Spill My Blood’. Lyrically, we know what to expect from these gorehounds, it’s all death, murder corpses, rotting flesh, and a nice dash of necrophilia.

Opener ‘Hand Of Darkness’ bangs the first rusty nail into the coffin, oozing from the wound with its pus-ridden growls and watery guitar sound. The elegantly titled ‘Dirty Gore Whore’ follows suit with its skeletal skin bashing and basement vocals. It’s a track that revels in the art of murder, blessed with the rather pleasant lyrics of “Rape you, kill you”, which will have serial killers salivating everywhere. Grim stuff. And, as you’d expect, the mood doesn’t lighten as the title track charges from the speakers, daubed in blood, and delivered with a maniacal and guttural bellow.

For the most part, Macabre Eternal is happy to exist beyond mid-tempo, but the band do their dirtiest work when the pace slows. Prime example being the doomy bathtub gurgle of ‘Bridge Of Bones’, with its macabre trudge and dinosaur plod of a drum, and the dismal rattle of the six-minute ‘Sewn Into One’.

But Autopsy can play the killing game either way and when needs must, they up the pace. ‘Bludgeoned And Brained’ displays life amongst the dead skin, but the drum and bass still wallow in that cesspit of disease. ‘Sadistic Gratification’ is an 11-minute torture chamber of sound, a mournful whine of guitars and morose drum; you can literally see the skeletons rising from their moss-covered graves as the vocals summon their bony frames for a march into oblivion.

No other band plays so-called “gore metal” like Autopsy, it’s just a shame they were out of action for so long. Some fans argue that this isn’t up there with their best work, but Severed Survival and 1991’s Mental Funeral are a long time ago now. We should be happy that these US death metallers are back, doing what they do best, dragging us into musty coffins and suffocating us with their unique brand of miserable metal.

Neil Arnold