Autopsy – Ashes, Organs, Blood And Crypts Review

[Cover art by Wes Benscoter]

Chris Reifert sure has been busy, eh? Two Autopsy albums, two Static Abyss albums, and a Siege of Power album all released in the last two years. But hey, Greg Wilkinson has been busy too, because he’s on those Autopsy and Static Abyss albums, plus the latest DeathGrave. And let’s not take anything away from Eric Cutler and Danny Coralles either, because “only” putting out two albums in two years is still a rapid output we don’t see much anymore. Best of all, most of this stuff has been quite good for the heavy metal earballs. Quite good, indeed.

Release date: October 27, 2023. Label: Peaceville.
Most applicable here, obviously, is the Autopsy material. Last year’s Morbidity Triumphant was a slithery banger, and handily among the band’s best albums since they reformed about 15 years ago. As is the case with all bands that started their careers with a couple unimpeachable classics, everything Autopsy puts out gets compared to their early years, and for good reason; Severed Survival and Mental Funeral set the standard for looser, swingin’ balls, and demented death metal that stood in strong contrast to their thrashier or more technical peers. But albums like Morbidity Triumphant can make you forget the classics, at least while they’re playing.

Barely a year later and Autopsy is already gifting us with Ashes, Organs, Blood and Crypts. It’s also being released extremely close to Halloween, a very fitting time of the year for one of metal’s most gleefully horror-themed bands with one of the most gleefully deranged and charismatic vocalists. Reifert’s maniacal presence ‒ with aid as always from Cutler ‒ has always been the death metal equivalent of a particularly disturbing haunted house host, and he and his mostly very-long-term bandmades are as close to top form here as they’ve been in the last three decades.

Almost ironically, it’s his shortest-term bandmate that helps give the album a lot of depth and, well, playfulness that some of the other later Autopsy albums might have lacked. Wilkinson goes positively Geezery on several songs, with his bubbly embellishments in “No Mortal Left Alive” really rounding out the later, slower parts of the tune, while further embracing how much Black Sabbath has always been in the doomier side of Autopsy’s sound. Sure, Reifert might be screaming things like “everything’s fffffucking deeeeeeaaaaaaaad!,” but we’re all here to have fun, and Wilkinson’s playing shows that the band is having as much fun as we are. Also really fun: the wickedly cool harmonized trills earlier in the track.

The bass flourishes are made possible by the extra space that Autopsy as a band has found on Ashes, Organs, Blood and Crypts. In contrast to some of their denser, higher-gain later albums, Ashes is spacious, loose, punky, and oh so greasy. Autopsy has always been the best “jamming together in a room” death metal band, and that quality is huge here. Every time Reifert bellows out some insane lyrics ‒ such as oh, “Ancestral innards filling my teeth!!!” in “Well of Entrails” ‒ it’s pretty easy to sense the wide grins of Coralles, Cutler, and Wilkinson elsewhere in the room. Again, the fun is being had by all.

This looseness, comfort, and chemistry elevate every track, most of which really dig into Autopsy’s doom side to one degree or another, with a few also hitting the punkier side. Of the latter, “Toxic Death Fuck” reigns supreme with a ludicrously infectious chorus, more frenetic stuff out of Reifert (at one point he’s just coughing), and a later passage that injects some serious melody into the mix with a smooth solo and nice harmonies. At under 3 minutes the tune really adds some serious energy to the later stretches of a record that often finds itself in glorious lurches.

And as always, Autopsy excels like few others when the tempo drops. A tune like “Marrow Fiend” begins in an absolute trudge, with big stop-hits by the band both answering and emphasizing Reifert’s culinary wishes (“Your skeleton rich with what I crave and need!”). But this being Autopsy, tempo changes abound as the band adds harmonies, solos, shuffles, bounces, and a particularly wicked mid-paced part right before all four guys find their most demened doom side for the finish. Or maybe a tune like “Lobotomizing Gods,” which really wrecks necks with tempo change teases and a major emphasis on the evil side of things.

While much of the slower material calls to mind the greasier Mental Funeral moments and rippers like “Throatsaw” and the title track do more of the classic Autopsy death drive thing, this is absolutely the product of who Autopsy is in 2023. For example, while much of said title track has serious Severed Survival speed, it begins with almost a stoner metal swagger and still finds time to drop the tempo.

The frequent tempo changes and doom passages are obviously nothing new to this band, but that extra looseness really makes it feel as if the band is just jamming, that the whole of Ashes, Organs, Blood and Crypts was done live in just a couple takes. The sense that Autopsy was reenergized on Morbidity Triumphant is even stronger here, but it isn’t some forced or Obvious New Era of the Band thing, just four crusty veterans doing their awesome thing. And absolutely no one is better at this thing than Autopsy. Having a cheat code vocal tandem like Reifert and Cutler absolutely helps (and puts to shame the countless generic death metal vocalists of the world), but all four of these dudes are just feeling it on this album.

The riffs from Coralles and Cutler ‒ from the straightforward buzzsaw action to all the sassy trills ‒ never let up on the fun, while their soloing ranges from Slayer insanity to much more melodic terrain (such as the very nice legato action in “Throatsaw”). Wilkinson’s contributions were already mentioned, but his perfect fit cannot be overstated, and he’s doing even more here than on his first record with the band. Meanwhile, Chris Reifert the drummer is still one of the most natural and versatile skinsmen around, so much so that it’s as easy to imagine him providing session beats on that new Rolling Stones album as it is his eternally dependable hammering here. Just replace the Charlie Watts smirk with whatever nasty things are going through that bald noggin of his at any particular moment.

Want the obvious wrap up? One of the all-time greats remains one of the all-time greats. Like their fellow all-time greats, they’ll forever be defined by their early, groundbreaking albums, but hot damn it’s nice having them operating at this level almost 35 years later. Ashes, Organs, Blood and Crypts is heaps of greasy, grimy, gutsy fun.

Posted by Zach Duvall

Last Rites Co-Owner; Senior Editor; Obnoxious overuser of baseball metaphors.

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