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Many an Internet poster took umbrage when Autopsy said their first album in 16 years would include an 11-minute song. Collective wisdom said Autopsy should stick to short songs. A few wondered why a band that spun gold out of dearth would record in a studio that welcomed Lauryn Hill, Aerosmith, and 2 Live Crew (studio report).

There was little cause for worry. Guitarist Eric Cutler said Macabre Eternal (Peaceville, 2011) would offer 60-plus minutes of brutality, and it does. The album makes good on the promise of a worthwhile comeback hinted at on The Tomb Within EP (review). True, Autopsy sounds crisper and takes more time with songs than in the past. Macabre Eternal doesn't steamroll you; it spreads out the pain.

You can't expect Chris Reifert and co.'s long tenure in Abscess not to change their delivery. But the things that make Autopsy a death metal cornerstone remain: Reifert's shrieks and signature fills and Eric Cutler's riffs. Macabre Eternal keeps the classic formula, but shows evolution. "Dirty Gore Whore" is uncharacteristically fast, a running zombie from 28 Days Later rather than a Dawn of the Dead lurker. Cutler, who handles vocals on three songs, gurgles and snarls and sounds genuinely unhinged. Joe Trevisano - also of Abscess and Bay Area black metal originals Von - is an integral cog, not just a replacement bassist. Autopsy requires sonic girth, and his playing provides the framework for Cutler's decaying notes and creepy solos.

What about the 11-minute "Sadistic Gratification"? The female screams are unnerving, but the ideas get repetitive. But Autopsy built their reputation on two-minute tracks like "Twisted Mass of Burnt Decay". To almost pull off something so outside of their comfort range is an accomplishment.

Macabre Eternal merges the best of vintage Autopsy with hard-learned musical lessons. Reifert and Cutler are like crazed scientist Herbert West in Re-Animator - they've sewn together body parts and created a monster.

— Justin M. Norton

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