Autopsy are back. It's about time. With the resurgence of old-school death metal and Autopsy-inspired bands (see, e.g.,  Coffins and Hail of Bullets), it's fitting that the real thing reclaim its throne. This EP is the perfect way to do so.

Its brevity (20 minutes) befits a band testing the waters again. After Autopsy stopped in the mid-'90s, most of that band became Abscess. Abscess mostly screwed around and underachieved. An unexpected late-career uptick occurred, however, last year with Abscess' split with Population Reduction and this year with Dawn of Inhumanity (reviewed here). Since 3/4 of Autopsy's current lineup played in Abscess, the band is in fighting shape.

The Tomb Within (Peaceville, 2010) makes this clear. Its five songs are distinct and memorable. Those trademark doom passages and queasy harmonies are in full flower. Chris Reifert delivers perhaps the best death metal vocal performance of the year. His expressive, declamatory style descends from Tom G. Warrior (see "Dethroned Emperor"). In "Seven Skulls", the narrator faces haunting spirits in his house. He exclaims, "I've got seven skulls / Seven boxes in a row / Seven spirits free / I'll join them soon, they call to me". Reifert roars these lines with a madness worthy of a Poe character. He is not just some growler; he is channeling emotion.

"Seven Skulls"

One small change has occurred in Autopsy's sound. In the past, a big part of it was openness. Drums and riffs rang out freely and un-gated, yielding a stomping feel. The band plays the same way now (Reifert's tom fills are still creative), but modern recording has tightened its sound. No longer is it like an elephant flattening everything in its path. Now it's more like, as Decibel writer Shawn Bosler put it, zombies running in 28 Days Later. The conventional wisdom is that zombies don't run. I see no reason why post-apocalyptic zombies can't mutate into runners. They're scarier that way. I like this leaner, fitter Autopsy. May they bring us another Mental Funeral.

— Cosmo Lee

Buy The Tomb Within

. . .