AUTOPSY, Macabre Eternal  (2011, Peaceville)

The skull:
We appreciate that this is a truly BIG skull; you don’t need an expert on scale to see that this is a weighty proposition for these zombie creatures to move across their landscape of horror. There’s nothing very dumb about it, though: Wes Benscoter has done some great work, and this is up there with his absolute best. Not until gazing at the cover for this BDS spiel did I imagine it as a morbid alternate take on Gulliver’s Travels, the Lilliputians being tiny emaciated zombies. The nasty little critters have just fed on Gulliver’s flesh and are seen here dragging his defleshed skull to some unknown destination, probably to be set up as a lawn ornament at the home of the Lilliputian Zombie King. (Please ignore the beheaded guy standing in the background…that’s some other dude they beheaded before Gulliver came along.) Even though these Lilliputian zombies should be hardened to the depravity of their day-to-day existence, some of them, if you look closely, look appalled at the scene, with looks on their faces that seem to say “How did it come to all this???” Be sure to buy my forthcoming book, Re-imagining Gulliver’s Travels, sure to set fire to the literary world a la Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. The zombie thing isn’t overdone yet, right?

The music:
Up there with Surgical Steel when it comes to better-than-average comeback albums, Macabre Eternal is one of the greatest Autopsy albums, old or new. More memorable than this year’s The Headless Ritual, and more cohesive than older albums Shitfun and Acts of the Unspeakable, it found Autopsy returning to what they do best, yet songs like “Bridge of Bones” and “Sadistic Gratification” find the band expanding their range too. These two tracks bring some new ideas to the table, and in the case of the latter, finds Autopsy working with extended length and relatively complex arrangement ideas that they’d never before attempted. And there’s plenty of doom-laden horror and ridiculous depravity throughout the other, more traditional Autopsy songs. The guitar tones and soloing of the Corrales/Cutler team are here in all their gory glory, while Chris Reifert not only rocks the drumkit unlike most other death metal drummers, he expands his vocal range to include a kind of perverted talk-singing that’s sometimes hard to swallow, but if you’re in the mood, it takes you to a putrid, crazy place. A completely enjoyable slab of fucked-up ugliness from an incomparable death metal legend.
— Friar Wagner

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