It seems 2011 is the year for death metal bands to have reunions with both Morbid Angel and Autopsy putting out new albums this year. Unlike Morbid Angel’s latest, Autopsy’s Macabre Eternal is good. Especially considering it’s been 16 years since Autopsy’s last effort.

Autopsy is one of the underground Death Metal acts that many bands attribute as having been a great influence. This is for good reason too. Amongst all the blast beats and grunts-n-growls of most Death Metal acts, Autopsy has always been a little different. After 16 years doing other things, their sound has changed a little but not much. The core of what made Autopsy great then still exists in Macabre Eternal today. Instead of hammering you in the face with a wall of chaos, Autopsy is more a Death Metal sound with a sludge rock twist. They drag your battered and bruised corpse slowly over the coals instead of smashing your face in with a hammer.

Tracks like “Hand of Darkness” and “Dirty Gore Whore” up the tempo and keep things running at a fast paced. “Dirty Gore Whore” is almost uncharacteristically fast for Autopsy. “Bridge of Bones” gets back to a more familiar Autopsy sound, reminiscent of their excellent song “Dead“. It has a slow groove with the bass and drums. The lead guitars sit out front balancing things out while the vocals go from grunts to actually slowing down and being understood. Towards the end all hell breaks loose with in your face goodness. While “Always About To Die” almost plays more like a sludge song. Things start off slow and melodic, then incorporate a nice midtempo groove about halfway through. Towards the end things kick into high gear with crazy drums and squealing guitars.

Sadistic Gratification” is the surprise track on the album. Almost unheard of by Death Metal standards, it clocks in at 11 minutes 15 seconds. I was unsure if the boys would be able to pull off such an “In-a-gadda-da-vida” like effort. The song is excellent and it holds together well. It starts off with slow melody on drums and some nice guitar riffs. Then easily transitioning into a faster pace and finishes things off with the more usual Autopsy death sludge sound. The closing does incorporate some hokey female screams that are unnecessary, but overall the song works quite well.

After a 16 year hiatus, Autopsy has come back from the grave still the undead entity they were. Keeping their core sound and producing a great album.

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