Autopsy - The Headless Ritual
Peaceville Records
Death Metal
10 songs (44:15)
Release year: 2013
Autopsy, Peaceville Records
Reviewed by Goat

Follow-ups to widely-acclaimed comeback albums are rarely given anything near the same praise – which isn't always fair. After the excellent Macabre Eternal of 2011 came along and reminded us all how good it could be to feast on death metal at its dirtiest, The Headless Ritual doesn't seem to have quite impressed to the same degree. The surprise of Autopsy's return is gone, true, but that doesn't lessen the chilling impact of these song's dark grooves, the demented redneck shuffle of the songs in a style that latter-day Obituary tried but never quite captured, the wail of Cutler and Coralles' guitars, and Chris Reifert's unmistakeable vomited vocals. Slower and doomier in sections than its predecessor and sounding like a zombified Asphyx, The Headless Ritual is a killer album that isn't afraid to be enjoyable and even catchy, setting it above otherwise potential imitators like Coffins.

You see, the sheer level of personality to be found in any random minute of this album is miles above the general death metal world, especially the shinier and more soulless realms. It's all in the often downright bizarre songwriting, which (admittedly while not quite as good as Macabre Eternal's) is still excellent. Opener Slaughter at Beast House has a chaotic, old-school grinding style at first, galloping in and taking no prisoners, leading to a doom section that could have come from Candlemass were it not for Reifert's gurgling performance over the top. The melodramatic horror of the opening to Coffin Crawlers, completed with a retch from Reifert, will put a smile on your face, instantly removed by the chaotic flurry of very serious metal following it. Generally, the songwriting is excellent; it's hard to pick out poorer tracks, as each has something to recommend it, from Mangled Far Below's crunchy battering to widdly guitar heroics on Running From the Goathead.

Mainly though, this album's appeal is all thanks to Reifert, whose variety of chokes, gasps, grunts, and yells makes for a highly engrossing listen. It's an excellent partnership – melodic sections on She Is A Funeral that are more reminiscent of early Iron Maiden than anything are interspersed with groovy doom section with the focus back on his vocals atop a deep morass of guitar churns. He's one of the most instantly recognisable vocalists in death metal, and one of the most underrated too, perhaps a bit too unhinged and chaotic for the precise, razor-sharp metal of nowadays. Certainly, The Headless Ritual wouldn't be recommended for people who like their death metal modern and glistening – yet old-schoolers and those who enjoy a little dirt in their death will eat this up.

Killing Songs :
Slaughter at Beast House, She Is A Funeral, When Hammer Meets Bone, Arch Cadaver, Running From the Goathead
Goat quoted 82 / 100
Other albums by Autopsy that we have reviewed:
Autopsy - Macabre Eternal reviewed by Charles and quoted 88 / 100
Autopsy - The Tomb Within reviewed by Charles and quoted no quote
Autopsy - Mental Funeral reviewed by Tony and quoted 94 / 100
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