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Tourniquets, Hacksaws And Graves

Peaceville (2014)
Rating: 8.5/10

Clearly chomping at the bit like some flesh-eating bacteria, death metal legends Autopsy have barely cleaned up the ooze left from 2013’s The Headless Ritual and yet have now returned with another infected chunk of grisly metal. It’s no shock horror when one slaps on the latest slab from this gore-obsessed quartet, but in a sense, I’m rather sad to say that. Although the California band’s last two efforts were downbeat, dirty and blood-spattered, they were still a world away from the magical debut Severed Survival (1989) and its ghastly follow-up Mental Funeral (1991). Tourniquets, Hacksaws And Graves is still a manky, decomposing and of course violently festering act of the unspeakable, however.

The creepy combo are more than happy to lumber along like some drooling zombie, and when these guys get it right they are a severed head and shredded shoulder above the rest. This is apparent on the gurgling bloodbath that is the hideous title track, which hammers the bones like a wrecking ball made for human destruction. There are some fantastic shifts in tempo and unusual structures as the sombre guitars drone out from the grave, and provide ample soundtrack to those chesty vocals.

My only issue with this record is that at times it does become a tad predictable, being the seventh studio platter, but still it plies its grisly trade like a grave robber under the cloak of night. With soiled hands Eric Cutler and Danny Coralles deliver those juicy licks and labouring riffs of mould – again, I refer to the title track, which is a feast for the ears in its variety. Elsewhere, the band puke out a mix of phlegm-ridden brutality in the form of opener ‘Savagery’ mixed with soggier melancholy, as with ‘King Of Flesh Ripped’ where Chris Reifert’s drums clamber and clatter like a thousand skeletons pouring from a musty vault.

Other choice cuts include the hissing decomposition of ‘The Howling Dead’, probably the clammiest track on the album with its bestial vocal drool and caveman thump of the drums. ‘After The Cutting’ is Autopsy at their speediest, meanwhile, combining a rampant, frothing bass and cavernous drum with spitting vocals and truly hostile guitars.

So, while the band are often so genial in their gruesome technicality, there are a few moments when the album becomes an Autopsy-by-numbers choke, with the likes of ‘Forever Hungry’ becoming rather standard death metal offerings. But that’s not to say that this 12-track affair boasts fillers – far from it. With the lifeless instrumental ‘All Shall Bleed’ and the pummelling yet ordinary closing ‘Autopsy’, however, there is proof that even the greatest bands can suffer a dull moment. But hey, this is more than made up for with the likes of ‘Deep Crimson Dreaming’ and the doom-laden perversion of ‘Burial’ with its straining chug and blood-soaked vocals.

When Tourniquets, Hacksaws And Graves does kick in like a hideous infection, it soon becomes clear that this is another murky mess in the Autopsy catalogue. Despite the occasional yet rare drift into the predictable, it’s a pus-filled composition that matches the last two studio releases Macabre Eternal (2011) and The Headless Ritual. Autopsy have become a consistent and prolific monster; a monster we just can’t live without.

Neil Arnold