Autopsy: 'All Tomorrow's Funerals' – CD Review


If you party with fans of horror-themed death metal, you're probably going to hear Autopsy come up at least a dozen times a night... and for damn good reason: this Bay Area-based group blazed the trail for a genre that coupled extreme horror lyrics and thrash/doom riffs in a way that most of us take for granted by now. Over a quarter-century, death metal has diversified and gene-spliced countless times, but back in the day, it was all about shock and awe, and Autopsy knew how to bring it. The band reunited a few years ago after a long hiatus, to the great delight of long-time fans... but if you're still new to their brand of blood-soaked brutality, the perfect opportunity has come your way in the form of the humongous double-CD retrospective All Tomorrow's Funerals – a remastered compilation of all the band's EPs and singles from their inception to today, as well as some new tracks to hammer it all home. Read on for a review of this mighty metal monolith...

After frontman Chris Riefert and guitarists Danny Coralles & Eric Cutler reunited in 2008 (bringing aboard new bassist Joe Trevisano), Autopsy soon returned to the studio and quickly emerged with three excellent releases: the single Horrific Obsession and EP The Tomb Within, and last year's full-length album Macabre Eternal. All of these represented a strong comeback, scooping up positive reviews and revitalizing their fanbase. With this release, they're giving a new generation of fans an easy way to dig into the band's intense musical history (especially since most of the older material featured here is long out of print), and the four new and re-recorded tracks click nicely into place alongside their recent arsenal. If you're already a fan, you'll already be familiar with the bulk of these tracks, but rest assured you will be rewarded with the new material, and the remasters are top-notch.

In the late '80s, the band made an instrumental transition from straight-up thrash (in the mode of Riefert's previous groundbreaking band Death) to the doomier sound that has become the Autopsy trademark, and that metamorphosis happened around the release of the Retribution for the Dead EP, which is solidly remastered in its entirety here with accompanying tracks "Destined to Fester" and "In the Grip of Winter," all of which sound hefty and pure despite the rough production of the originals. All the cuts from their second EP Fiend for Blood – including "Keeper of Decay," "Squeal Like a Pig," "Ravenous Freaks," "Dead Hole" and "A Different Kind of Mindfuck" had previously surfaced as bonuses on the re-released version of Acts of the Unspeakable, but sound better in this collection. Horrific Obsession and The Tomb Within are both recycled in their entirety here, but if you haven't already picked up your copies, they're well worth checking out – especially Tomb, which features the supremely diabolical track "My Corpse Shall Rise." Another standout is "Funereality," which originally appeared on Unspeakable, and a new version of "Mauled to Death" from the band's 1987 demo.

Even if you've stockpiled the band's entire back catalog, you won't suffer from double-dip buyer's remorse here, because in addition to the re-recorded and remastered tracks, the band has served up three new originals exclusive to the compilation: the epic "All Tomorrow's Funerals" and "Broken People" open the album on an excellently massive note, encapsulating the best of old and new Autopsy by slipping effortlessly between thick doom chords and jackhammer thrash. The short piece "Sign of the Corpse" closes the album with creepy backwards-tracked vocals from Riefert through a cloud of guitar feedback, which is kind of a throwaway cut, but makes for a chilling atmospheric bookend.

For curious newcomers or lifelong fans, All Tomorrow's Funerals is a definite win-win, and offers a perfect overview of the output from one of metal's most influential bands, with a promising taste of what's to come. Since the band has been amazingly prolific since their reunion, I imagine the next assault will be coming very soon, and if the new tracks on this collection are any indication of the brutality in store, I can hardly wait. If you still need convincing, check out the official video for the title track...