On why Autopsy is the greatest band that ever existed

I have been chewing at the new EP “Puncturing the Grotesque” for a few days now and there’s this song “Gas Mask Lust” that just creeps within the folds of your brain. I was stuck in the traffic this morning and just put it on loop, over and over. I started to think about all the “Autopsy – inspired bands” we have in today’s scene and how they just seem to catch just a facet of the multi tentacled and multi eyed beast that is Autopsy. How is that that they always manage to stand head and shoulder above all the rest of the Death Metal underworld, every single time they release a new album?

That made me think a little, and the usual answers started to shower in.

Listening to an Autopsy song is like being in the perfect storm. How is that that their backbone is punk as fuck, the single chords so raw, the vocals messy and out of place, but at the same time you understand that if these guys were not musicians with 40 years of experience they could just not play this shit? The orchestral taste in which screams and solos are arranged are a bit like having GG Allin and the London Symphony Orchestra at the same time in some sort of deranged jigsaw that, ultimately and bafflingly, makes sense in the most disturbing way.

From the underground Death Metal perspective, these guys have been in there forever. They never had the big hype of Death or the worldwide recognition of Morbid Angel, but yet they are one of the proto-everything bands that just started the whole Death Metal concept (and in my opinion they’re still the band that better embodies it). They are the prototypical antonym of “derivative”. They took the ugliest parts of rock, metal and punk and sewed the rotting chunks with images of utter horror and sleaziness without just focusing on literature and movies, but digging deeper into the most nightmarish essence of humankind from the broadest spectrum. They had this vision in a time of primordial chaos when there was none. Autopsy is relentless, untainted and untamed horror in its purest form, that is, in other words, DEATH METAL.

That is basically what makes them so special: Autopsy is the alpha and omega of Death Metal, complete upon itself. They sum up EVERYTHING conceived in this corner of music. It’s like putting your whole collection in a slow juicer to remove all the fluff. I still believe you could have their records and nothing else on your shelf, and that still would be a respectable, flawless DM collection. 

Long Death the Kings.

Death Metal Singing Class

There’s something I never quite understood, or better yet, something that has been pissing me off for some time in the past until my nihilistic point of view justly settled in and told me not to care. I am talking about people vigorously debating about so called “Death Metal ” vocals techniques. Endless argling-bargling on whether to exhale or inhale when making growls or how to keep your throat when screaming. All of this is, in my humble opinion (and as a short-time singer myself 20-something years ago already) utter bullshit. There is no proper singing technique in Death Metal, at least not in Death Metal as it was in the beginning, at least not any technique specific for Death Metal. I guess general singing techniques on how to use your diaphragm and stuff like that possibly works on DM as well, but Death Metal, per se, is not something you should easily describe or catalogue in a class.

Death Metal vocals only need to be scary, period. You just do it using whatever you have according to the shape of your body and lungs.

Just grab any old DM albums from early ’90 or so: Malevolent Creation, Death, Autopsy, Vader, Cannibal Corpse, Suffocation, Dismember, Morgoth, Disharmonic Orchestra, Carcass, all of these had their own specific, readily identifiable characteristic way of singing. None of these bands had probably any real guidelines besides maybe oldies like Massacre, Repulsion or Deathstrike (for some), but what I want to stress out is that you cannot just pick up a mic and decide if you want to scream or growl. Dismember had neither kind of vocals and yet I dare someone tell you they’re not properly Death Metal. Moreover, part of what makes this music so unique is that it’s* spontaneous, holistic if you wish.

You just put things together and see if they work.

This obsession of classifying and cataloguing everything came with the swelling and inflation of the genre in that huge, universal pout-pourri of the “underground for everyone” that the ’90 brought us.

*should be.

LACERATER (Ita): “Nessun Urlo Nell’Ombra” demo Cd 2007 s/p

lacerater-nessunurlo

I forgot the intense pain of reviewing a Death Metal Cd whose lyrics are sung in Italian since maybe… Resurrecturis? Ouch! In any case, this promo comes with a decent pro packaging and full color slimcase. I won’t indulge right now on the cover art which, while interesting in concept (maggots are always cool), is arranged quite awkwardly (something just seems out of place), so I jump straight to the inner side where lyrics are printed (think font on a dark background, my eyes thank you). I have to stress it: am really uncomfortable with the Italian language but I confess that could be  because I never heard a band using the language convincingly, after all if we consider the assonance it can’t be much worse than Spanish or Portuguese right? And we all like South American bands that sing in these idioms right? Whatever.

Yet I also had another, veiled, prejudice on Lacerater since the band is from my city of birth, and despite having been close to that scene since the very beginning I can’t honestly claim that a city like Bologna ever shined in the musical landscape. Sure there are highlights in the story of extreme Metal from that city (Crematorium and Euthanasia were quite good as well as some grindcore side projects) but mostly the scene has always been quite flat especially considering the important universities there attract young blood from all over the country. One would expect such melting pot to produce quality stuff by the score, after all.

Well I have to admit I was wrong, TWICE. Not only the songwriting on this demo is rather solid (shoving my prejudices up my arse) but the choice of singing in my language didn’t damage the quality of the product whatsoever. I am still not sure it not to sing in English was a proper choice, but being extreme Metal a form of art I accept it as a thoroughly consolidated and well thought choice. Lacerater surely has some good blasts on these tracks, and the double vocal (growling/screaming) duty is quite intense, but straight out brutality is not the main topic here, it seems this band is mainly interested in writing songs that do have both head and tail and a whole lot of stuff in between with plenty of space for some improvements on the technical parts for the future as well. I have heard bands on Cudgel or Morbid which were way worse that this so I assume it is a matter of time before Lacerater finds a contract. I am reading right now the band is on hold, which is a pity since this stuff is rather good. They are basically ondulating between uptempo riffing and blasting, never giving a real breathing space. I won’t call it Death/Grind, but it is certainly good solid Death Metal with  lashes of grinding fury thrown in. Good stuff, worth hearing.

ABHORROT (Aut): “Death In Blasphemy” demo Cd-r 2008 s/p

Abhorrot - Death In BlasphemyI just wanted to skip on the countless useless promos and dug up the ones I enjoyed the most. Abhorrot is a band that just did it right (according to my own vision of this stuff that is) on this demo. Basically EVERYTHING is right here, and I will start with the amazing sounding name (I bet they were Finnish ah ah!), killer logo, great sketched artwork. I am one of the ones that got this on CDr which is cool, even though this is definitely tape stuff (I read some of these demos came out on tape too), I admit I would really like every single Death Metal demo came out this way, no frills shitty art, dripping logo and rough paper, nothing else. There is no real booklet but the other side of the cover keeps it old school: typewriter fonts, impossibly dark picture, and a scattering of song titles like “DIE IN PAIN”. Now I’d like to give a Nobel prize to any band that comes out with a title like this, I am serious. And then you have “Eternal Decay” and “Death in Blasphemy” which are equally ultimate Death Metal titles as well. And let’s not forget the Nihlist cover.

Being recorded in some place called “The Cellar” you cannot really expect Morrisound, can you? Here it is: pure cellar sound, and I believe they’re talking about a REAL cellar, not some studio with a cool name. The sound is as fuzzy and degenerated as you can imagine, and the rehearsal sound is just a perfect fit for the incredibly basic riffing we have here, it’s like some extremely early Death Metal recording from 1990 with guttural growls and a slightly drone metallic sound. Of course I do not  think a band should end his path here since a little bit of structure is mandatory even in Death Metal but what I liked is that I was n0t able to hear anything so refreshingly primal for many years. The band subsequently released some more stuff so the sound here is probably not even fairly indicative of their latest efforts but it is a nice demo to hear in a time where 13-years old freaks are able to blast 10000 bps hyper-technical riffs. Nice addition for a complete DM collection: guttural vocals, primitive riffing, sloppy (in a cool way) drumming and so on, just as it was.

Not dead yet… (premature burial!)

It is really touching to see there are still over 50 views each day on this website despite the fact I haven’t updated it in eight months. I promise this webzine is not dead, but I am just trying to recollect some of the enthusiasm I had when I started it. The whole musical scene is so incredibly different today and I just feel so out of place… it is so funny but what really makes me feel like this has been this huge old-school revival. The bands, most of them at least, are so damn good. Yet there is something out of place… In any case I have a box full of promo material that WILL be reviewed as soon as I find some motivation.

Death Metal Eternal.

ANGELCORPSE (USA-Fl): “Of Lucifer and Lightning” Lp Cd 2007 Osmose

Angelcorpse has come out from of the tomb of ice they fell encased in some years ago. I got this album with some advance in respect to the official release date from Osmose, but I decided to hold it until now because this is not an album I wanted to take lightly. I found much difference from “The Inexorable” and I was not sure I liked everything about it. Before giving an immature comment I wanted to give it a few more listens. The problem is that, even if I am a freak for shit productions, the recording here is a bit flat and murky and really didn’t seem to give the band justice. So I went on and on and listened to it over and over. With some extra thought, I have nothing much to add more than “another fucking masterpiece of Death Metal”. I have come to a point I await for the new Angelcorpse with more trepidation that the new Morbid Angel.

It is worth saying that mostly everyone I talked about this band with in 1997-2000 was throwing shit onto it. All I heard over and over is “they’re just Morbid Angel clones”. Same words came from people in the “metal industry”. Seems like someone finally gives them the rightful respect becouse this IS one of the top Death Metal bands of all times. And I am not exaggerating it, all of Angelcorpse albums can stand with “Legion”, “Altars of Madness”, “Metal Funeral” and other classics.

This one is not far from it. I still haven’t digested the production which seems definitely fuzzy, but the riffing here is still supreme. Malevolence here is the leitmotif of Helmkamp vocals. They hiss with serpentine evilness words written with his usual class and proficiency. The lyrics are as usual so elegantly written they could be sold as a stand alone book. The drumming is flawless, the solos vibrate with imperial pride, and the guitarwork – well – is still the best you can get in the extreme metal industry. Every one of these riffs are masterpieces on their own. I am not afraid to tell Gene Palubicki is, together with Danny Coralles, Piotr Wiowrzarek, John Christ and John McEntee, the best guitarist in Metal I know today (in my own top 5 at least).

Everything in this album is proud, arrogant and imperious. Even the Petagno cover is brilliant, vaguely reminiscent of early Slayer works. Slick packaging and flawless music. One of the top albums of 2007. Period.