The Tomb Within reviews
autothrall on June 20th, 2011
Homecoming to a curriculum of carnage
The Tomb Within might not necessarily live up to the hype this elusive legend has garnered since its career void and the ensuing reunion announcements, but it certainly plants the muddied, time worn boots of Chris Reifert and his joyous band of ghouls directly back into the sodden sepulchral wastes of better years. In a scene of progressively exquisite (oft to the point of inanity) technical arrays of extremity, it was all too obvious that a particular segment of the gore drenched populace would seek to reach back towards the tendrils of morbidity that imbued archaic death metal with such a memorable character.
Autopsy must seem a flagship for this frustrated faction, a band adorned with both the lewd passion and perversions of the old guard and the visceral fiber and versatility to persevere. This was not always the case though, and to some extent the riffs contained on this five track EP would bring back painful flashbacks to some of the less interesting Autopsy records, like the dreadful Shitfun and the mediocre Fiend for Blood EP. I don't care how much of a sacred cow the name brings with it, though, plodding and uninteresting riffs are not virtues for this or any other band, and those releases were wrought of such tedium: The Tomb Within, slightly less so. As a fan of the band's first two LPs and their classic Retribution for the Dead EP, I fortunately found enough satisfaction here that it increased my expectations for this new phase of existence, but not nearly the raving level of admiration I've seen spewed upon its meager, passable rationing.
"The Tomb Within" winds up in scathing feedback before delivering a burgeoning barnstormer of thick, punkish grinding that highlights the band's current level of production, which is honestly not all that different than cranking Mental Funeral a few decades back. I was just not into the riffs during the faster segment, they seemed a little too average, but the lumbering doom of its latter half does somewhat compensate. Most importantly, it reveals Reifert in a fine form, his gravelly tone grating against the sledgehammer, sludgy undertow like some necromantic pariah returned to his old haunting grounds to animate dust and limbs. "My Corpse Shall Rise" is sort of the opposite, opening with an archaic, appreciable death/doom sequence and then tearing into a flustered, flesh-ripping mass for the bridge and lead.
I did enjoy the flailing of "Seven Skulls", and the hardcore grunge and resonant vocals of "Human Genocide", but less so the somewhat tedious finale "Mutant Village". Considering the enormous hype that surrounded Autopsy's return to rights, I admit I expected far more, but this is at least a safe maneuver which plays up to the fans' expectations. There are more intriguing riffing structures on the following full-length, Macabre Eternal, which I've also had a mixed reaction to, but The Tomb Within seems like more of a straight shot to the fundamentals. I wasn't too fond of half the riffs and leads, but at least they got the atmosphere right, and that counts for a lot more than some might give due credit. Cool cover, decent way to kill 20 minutes, but they can and hopefully will have better to offer down the line.
harkwhistler on December 2nd, 2010
The Tomb Within
15 years is too long for a band to remain dormant. Especially after the guitarist himself issues a statement that they will never get together again. But for the first time since 1995 Autopsy have re united in the studio, after delivering a destructive performance in this year’s Maryland Death Fest, and here they are with their EP The Tomb Within. Through the fifteen years they seem to have changed as musicians and it clearly reflects in their music. The quality of production is quite commendable as they haven’t gone overboard and over produced it as most of the modern day bands do. The music itself bears the feel-good factor, as Autopsy have maintained their original sound and staying true to their old school death metal roots and doing justice to themselves as one of the pioneers of early death metal.
pioneers of early death metal.
Through the EP it’s clear that that they have somewhat let go of their doom death sound. The songs gallop in higher tempos along with Chris Reifert’s delightful growls. Add to this the good old orgasmic soloing and you’ve got yourself something to keep you tripping for a few weeks, to say the least. Looking back at Mental Funeral and Shitfun, one clearly misses the epic breakdowns that these guys are known for and popularized. But the album more than makes up for it with the epicness cleverly amalgamated in the memorable riffs. The second track My Corpse Shall Rise is the one that jaunts you back to the old days giving you a glimpse of Mental Funeral, of what used to be. The tempo continues to remain steady until the fourth song Human Genocide, that song delivering a sensational solo. The last track Mutant Village is when the tempo drops and Autopsy go back to what they were known for. A good six minutes long, this clearly qualifies as the best track on the EP.
Over all the EP is pretty much what you would expect from Autopsy, but not their best effort. It seems that they are saving their best for their upcoming full length album Macabre Eternal which is due in mid 2011. The Tomb Within certainly succeeds in laying the groundwork for what’s to come, and enough said, they are far from done wih making music. It also is definitely a great comeback album, more so because it’s been fifteen years in the making and definitely re-ignites the excitement for any death metal fan. Listen to it and wait for what’s to come is all I shall say.
Byrgan on November 9th, 2010
The return to a dark and hideous tomb
This is the next step of where "Acts of the Unspeakable" left off in the Autopsy discography, giving the cold shoulder to "Shitfun" with its punk inclinations and heavy-handed grind indulgences that were more sided with Abscess. Though "The Tomb Within" still grinds, produces sickly death and can't help but bring shrouding doom tendencies to a land already full of festering plague.
The band used an instinctual gauge to produce sounds instead of going by a criterion to measure up to as to what's around them. So, 2010 is stepping on standards like they did from when they left off in the '90s. There's definitely loudness, but also effects and obscurity ranging from the unpolished, sometimes hidden drums to the somewhat grainy and layered guitars distorting your ear canal and back to whichever wall the abrasive noises can bounce off of.
Attempting to capture the vocals into a primary method won't happen on the first or even tenth listen as they're this kind of schizophrenic chameleon not known to an indigenous habitat, except maybe to the realm of Helter Skelter, where things get all topsy-turvy and higgledy-piggledy. You know, that place. They aren't a straightforward delivery to death metal at large with a low, set tone that might not go very far in expanding on different emotions beyond the main technique used. That works for many bands and Reifert does growl and grunt, though he also screams and yells in whichever torturous way he possibly can—losing his lungs and throwing out his voice are part of its escalating impact. The speed is just as shifty: going from a hurrying thrash gallop, energetic midrange and down to a draining crawl. It actually feels worked through as "Acts of the Unspeakable" attempted to balance all of the various speeds, jumped from primitive to complex composition and also had shorter songs that didn't always leave enough room to fully develop themselves.
This recording mostly keeps their song writing atmospheric and savage. Some of the more moody ones can strum these meshed guitar lines that emit a grimy cesspool of notes; some of the violent ones can chainsaw back and forth the strings with tearing-flesh ferocity. The solos are full of blurry panic and jarring commotion. They essentially grab at whichever notes are going to be an opposition to your calm or abuse to your ears, as they rapidly work their way up the neck with tremolo, send out waves of spite from their bends, and forcefully tilt back and forth the whammy bar into unnatural positions with intended malice. "Mutant Village" sticks out by actually being the "normal" song here as the beat is steady and primarily slow, producing this growing momentum with the guitars playing slightly separate rhythms to more together with single stringed reverbed-out plucks. "Human Genocide" is a rerecording off their first demo from '87, so it plays in more simplistic death-thrash form with a tempo that matches that seminal year, though with vocals that are a lot deeper than how Reifert sounded in the early days when he was a straight screamer.
In their return, these scoundrels picked back up the pieces and didn't lose their stench of death and decay, and importantly don't seem to give a rusty saw blade if the nowadays consensus likes their choice cuts—someone might get tetanus but without a sweat off their back—and I'm glad. They could have triggered out the drums, wrote a few groovy riffs, sang some choruses...and then ran themselves into the ground with every prior listener. There's still a form of measured anarchy here, while having enough to spill blood but not outright kill the victim. They could have also forced it with pointless blast beats, an automaton assembly-line of chug or missed out on a personal level with a manipulated pitch shifter—the usual suspects of "extremity makers." I don't know what they'll devise to truly get all the way inside your head with a longer release, as in the past they seemed to never settle in their span, constantly building and upping the levels of where one thinks they'll go next while still retaining part of their former shell. While this doesn't have as many catchy riffs as the first The Ravenous release—the former, for-the-time-being return of Autopsy—or take advantage of more horror score-like, dual-layered guitar lines and patterned tom hits like they did in the past, it does find some untapped alleyways and concentrate on a give and take of either shock (gore on the walls) to nightmarish shadows returning to haunt that very same area. A place that I'll definitely be coming back to.
IslanderNCS on October 11th, 2010
AUTOPSY: THE TOMB WITHIN
The Tomb Within is not the first new Autopsy music since 1995. When Peaceville issued a remastered 20th-anniversary edition of Severed Survivor in 2009, the band included two new songs on the second CD included in that special set, "Horrific Obsession" and "Feast of the Graveworm", which were recorded in September 2008. The five songs on the new EP further show that Autopsy has lost none of the demented genius that made them so influential 20 years ago.
It goes without saying that the music is heavy and primal, with the guitars tuned to subterranean depths of distorted reverberation and a thundering low end courtesy of Reifert's drumming and Joe Trevisano bass. Reifert's vocals are also hair-raisingly inhuman, veering from throaty, bestial gutturals to spectral shrieks and agonizing groans. It's the soundtrack to an exorcism gone terribly wrong.
But there is much more to set The Tomb Within apart from the legions of current old-school imitators. The rhythms are intricate, the tempos unpredictable, the time signatures inconstant. This is not tech-death extremity, but an organic, earthy variability that enhances the interest of the music without sacrificing its primal groove. And as was true of the Autopsy of old, just when you least expect it, white-hot bursts of lead-guitar shred erupt out of the songs, in stark contrast to the crushing low-end grind and drone.
"The Tomb Within" begins with twitching, growling guitar noise, building in volume and culminating in a scream. Reifert begins growling out the lyrics ("you're dying inside / every heartbeat closer to the last") amidst the crash of cymbals, the pounding of reverberating riffs and the shrieking of guitars. Then the bottom drops out, and a doom-metal crawl takes over, dark and heavy like thunderheads threatening rain. Finally, the clouds burst, the pacing jets upward, and the song careens toward an explosive finish ("thank the blood red skies / for with death you have been kissed").
A whining, harmonic guitar fanfare announces the start of "My Corpse Shall Rise" and periodically returns to knit this arresting song together. In between, the pacing alternately trudges and grinds, with dirty, fuzzed-out riffs, intricate drum fills, more bursts of boiling-hot guitar leads from Coralles and Cutler, and Reifert's truly hellish vocals ("I've been waiting here for you / now it's time to see you die"). This song should have been called "My Corpse HAS RISEN".
"Seven Skulls" launches with ringing guitar chords and a heavy, stomping gait. The pace lurches downward to a stumble, and then the guitars start spooling upward again as the vocals shriek and howl. Those big, heavy, stomping chords return again to drag the song to an ominous close ("my brain was filled with voices / as I picked up my gun").
"Human Genocide" is a fascinating addition to the EP. It's an old song, originally recorded as a demo in 1988 for possible inclusion on Severed Survival. Autopsy decided not to use it on that album, though that lo-fi demo version was included in the second CD of that 20th anniversary reissue. On The Tomb Within, we can now hear the song performed more than 20 years later with the benefit of sharper production.
It kicks off with a thrash-paced drum-beat and increasingly rapid riffing. It's a chainsaw that's running hot and fast, and badly in need of a lube-job because it's starting to smoke. The rhythms slip backward and forward like a timing chain is loose. It begins to jerk to a halt, but then finds a new burst of speed as one of those Cutler guitar solos erupts into a blaze of hellish glory.
"Mutant Village" finishes the EP with a dark, sludgy, death-doom crawl, accented by Reifert's random shrieks and groans. Eventually a rhythm of sorts emerges and Reifert's strangled vocals evoke the end times. The song stays morbidly slow until about 1:45 left, and then the drums begin to clatter and the tempo jumps upward briefly -- but it's a head-fake, because the doomy crawl returns quickly. Another surprising burst of guitar mayhem closes it out. Mutant zombies will bang their heads to this last song in slow motion ("a vision of hell, their food you will become / cannibals beneath a sickened sun"), and of course their heads will come off.
All the songs on this EP would have been right at home in Autopsy's stupendously good 1991 album, Mental Funeral. It's as if the band never left us, and their return on The Tomb Within has made a memorable mark on the list of 2010's best releases.
possessed1973 on October 10th, 2010
Absolutely Essential Death Metal
What a treat this is - a new mini LP from one of the greatest, most legendary extreme metal bands that ever existed. When the Horrific Obsession 7" came out I thought maybe it would be a one off but no, Autopsy is back together and recording a new full length album too.
The Tomb Within is a great little record. Five tracks, one of which is an old one - Human Genocide. While the aforementioned old track dates from 1987 (it was on Autopsy's first demo from that year) and sounds like it is straight off of Severed Survival, the other four tracks really pick up where Acts Of The Unspeakable left off. Gone are the Shitfun/Abscess-era short bursts of shit-dripping gore/grind crossover and back come the four and five minute tracks, the piledriving thrash riffs of Cutler and Coralles and the singularly disgusting vocals of Reifert alone.
The record starts with the title track, beginning with squealing and feedbacking guitars for a few seconds before blasting into a brute of a song. Reifert really can't do any wrong as he pummels his kit in his usual style - fast and loose but totally effective - and delivers his guttural vocals in a manner which takes me back to 1989. The track is trademark Autopsy - blisteringly fast, no blastbeats, and punctuated by lightning fast leads interchanged with Sabbath-style doom-outs which the band are so good at.
Track two - My Corpse Shall Rise - is both faster and more doomy if that's possible; a gloomy beginning which builds up to a mayhemic middle passage which then subsides again to a grinding outro.
Third track Seven Skulls has great lyrics and again builds from an eerie opening passage to a blistering middle section.
Fourth is Human Genocide which, as mentioned above, is pure early Autopsy - fast and brutal. It's a great track and a fine addition to the record.
The fifth and final track is Mutant Village and on this track Autopsy pay homage to the doom bands which influenced them so much through their career - Sabbath, St Vitus, Trouble, Candlemass etc. It is a 100% slow track and I think it closes the record very well.
The production on The Tomb Within overall is very good, although it gets a bit muddy at times, however, this suits the music perfectly and doesn't detract from it. Reifert is on top form with his vocals and his drumming, though at times the snare sounds slightly too low in the mix (example: the slow break at about 2:05 on track one - Reifert plays a very slow tempo on the snare and ride cymbal and the ride pretty much cancels out the snare).
The guitar sound is great and the bass is nicely up in the mix. For a record which was recorded and mixed in five days this is really good.
Furthermore, the packaging and artwork is exceptional as well - Peaceville has done a very good job with this release, as has the band itself.
I can't recommend this enough. Seek it out and prepare yourself for 2011 which is shaping up to be the year of Autopsy.
Empyreal on September 28th, 2010
A filth-caked, rusted metal fist to your face.
I’m not all that familiar with Autopsy. I love their debut Severed Survival, but somehow I just haven’t heard the rest of their stuff yet. I do know good music when I hear it, though, and The Tomb Within, the band’s hallowed comeback release, is a study in masterful riffing, filth-caked atmosphere and bile-drinking, zombie-pus-infected bloody wounds that will not fail to please. It’s not quite perfect, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun anyway, and I found it plenty enjoyable.
The guitars are heavy, raw and gritty, churning out unholy riffing with a manic kind of energy. I really think the riffs here are great; they’re just so hooky and aggressive and varied. Sometimes they’re fast and chunky, sounding like a zombie shoveling dirt through the ground to escape back to the surface, like on the title track and the awesome “Seven Skulls.” But on “Mutant Village” we get a slow, doomy dirge that just shows how little restraint this band has – there’s no genre-mindedness here at all, just like in the old days. A lot of modern bands have pigeonholed themselves into a more distilled and less entertaining version of the classic sound, not allowing any other influences to really seep in – unless of course they’re going for some kind of silly ‘avant garde’ sound, in which case you can expect the outside influences to be treated like circus exhibits on display, rather than a natural concoction. Autopsy’s music on this EP is great because it’s got this real earthly, naturalistic heavy metal sound to offer, purely and honestly written.
But I digress. Listen to that title track. Hear how it starts off soft and far away, unassumingly making you turn up the volume to hear it better? Better not lose your focus, lest the coming storm of heaviness destroy your eardrums. I mean man, this is heavy as hell. In three minutes the band conjures up a volleying, mutated slime that shifts through slow and fast sections naturally, spiced up with some seriously old school Mercyful Fate styled leads. The twisted, pained screams of “My Corpse Shall Rise” are intense and visceral, and the song packs some seriously killer hooks. “Seven Skulls” is the best song on here with chaotic, hellish guitar cacophonies that make me feel like I’m descending the river Styx or something. I don’t really think the last two songs are as good, but they’re not too bad; just not as inspired.
Yeah, this is definitely the sound of a band that knows how to market their music to their fans – they’ve been gone a long time and are back through a tirade of newfound hype for their early stuff, and so the sound on here is definitely pandering to that demographic. But I don’t really see much wrong with that. The band has still composed some pretty damn good material here, with some fine riffing and some lethal energy. Check it out if you loved their old stuff, it just might surprise you.
Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com
The Tomb Within track list
|1||The Tomb Within||03:44|
|2||My Corpse Shall Rise||04:17|
The Tomb Within lineup
|Chris Reifert||Vocals, Drums|