Autopsy – Skull Grinder (2015)

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On one hand, this is obviously a descendant of previous Autopsy material, but on the other hand, Skull Grinder is more conventionally structured and musical than the band’s formative work. You could make a case for my hypothesis based on the first single – i.e a lot of older styles of metal seem to be filtering into latter day Autopsy. Around these parts, this usually spells disaster and results in things like At the Gates releasing Slaughter of the Soul. Autopsy manages to avoid this fate by using these otherwise difficult to control elements in a way that actually fits their roots.

In general, Autopsy relies on a fairly simple formula to make their death metal – basic structures (not necessarily pop ones), limited technicality, and so forth. Perhaps the greatest reason Skull Grinder actually benefits from this is that Autopsy’s style always lent itself to having a strong vocal presence. Chris Reifert is on the top of his game here, successfully expanding the variety of vocal techniques he uses while remaining appropriate to the style of music on display. Similar expansions take place in the rest of the ensemble, including a more lead and solo heavy approach to guitarwork and more elaborate usage of melody in the rhythm guitar’s riffs. The downside of this more instrumentally interesting Autopsy is that it comes at expense of the band’s early mastery of song structure. In general, Skull Grinder is subtly, but definitely more haphazard in how it strings riffs together. This loss of organization skill is not drastic enough to ruin the record, but it’s an unfortunate shortcoming, and one that perhaps could have easily been avoided by giving the songwriting process a little more time to cook. Autopsy has certainly been releasing material quite consistently as of late, but I think the fans would tolerate a longer release cycle if it meant that the music was tightened up a bit and some of the more egregious filler was removed.

Despite this, Autopsy has created a better approximation of their early material than your average self-reviving band, and Skull Grinder does have a some material worthy of the band’s legacy in its short duration. There’s also some lessons to be learned here about how to expand your songwriting horizons; the best bands of the next few years will be those who can balance such wisdom with the more conventional truths Autopsy demonstrated in their past.

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4 thoughts on “Autopsy – Skull Grinder (2015)”

  1. thomasw says:

    I’m looking forward to checking out this when it is released on disc 1 of the 4xCD “After The Cutting” compilation along with some older, difficult to find Autopsy demos [late 80s, earlier 90s].

    1. jinko says:

      what is wrong with this guys just keeping repeating the same lacklustre material every year’

  2. OliveFox says:

    I always thought Autopsy was better on paper than in practice…but, I must admit, I had a blast listening to this. Take out “Sanity Bleeds” and “Return to Dead,” useless filler/interlude/non-songs, and you got 20 minutes of decent party metal. Damning with faint praise, to be sure, but some bands fit better within the context of a large group drinking, smoking and eating than other, better quality bands.

    All this and more can be found in my new book, “How to be the Most Metal of Hosts: Music tips for your Heavy Metal BBQ.”

    Yuck. I am such a fucking corny “music Dad” now. Must spin “The Nocturnal Silence” over and over until I feel like a true metal warrior again!

    1. vOddy says:

      I wish I had friends to listen to social metal with in the first place, lol.
      No one around me cares for metal, and very few even care for music.

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