's breaking point was just after Mental Funeral
, where their structure and consistency decomposed like a rotting corpse to turn into chunky, messy soup. I have yet to hear the album Shitfun
, which many say is the worst and most dissapointing Autopsy
release, but I decided to try out Acts of the Unspeakable
, which hinted towards the decay of the band's musical credibility in the death metal scene. I have to admit, I was curious as to what awaited me on the album with such an intriguing cover, and I wanted to further explore Autospy's discography.
We open the album with Meat, and a desolate, slow-paced doom riff that introduces us to the dank ugliness heard and felt on the rest of the album. After that, the song abrubtly shifts pace into a whirlwind of drumming, guitars, and spitting vocals from Chris Reifert. From there, the song shifts back and forth between rapid pummeling speed to slow, atmospheric doom-rock sections.
As the numerous short songs flash by, the album swirls haphazardly between break-neck speeds of chugging sludge, rocking riff sections, and zoned-out doomy interludes. There seems to be little focus in the songwriting, and these three tones switch with each other at pretty much any given time, giving the whole thing a tumoultous feel that works sometimes and distracts at others. Out
of the whole album, I find that the fastest 'merciless' pounding sections lack a lot to me, coming off as little more than minimally-structured heavy noise remeniscent to grindcore and goregrind. When the album takes the time to stop and sniff the roses, such as in the beginning of Your Rotting
Face, I feel the music resonates and breathes more, creating a moody swampy atmosphere that almost reeks with the vibe of asphyxiation and corpses rotting in a moist, dark tomb, their stench thick and cloying. That
's not to say that all of the fast parts in the album are a mind-numbing bore. There are some good fast headbanging moments, like in the opening of Death Twitch, but for the most part, when the album moves into full throttle, I can't tell what's really going on other than an avalanche of noise. The standout moments come out of the woodork haphazardly, making it so that rather than having favorite songs for the most part, there are only favorite moments. Sure, there are songs that are consistently stable and work very well, such as Pus
, Your Rotting
Face, and Funereality.
The music's sound is quite a bit different from on the previous two albums: it is a spacey, abstract sound due to heavy reverb on both the guitars and vocals. These two aspects of the music bounce off each other to create a muddy, gnarly, almost wet sound that Autopsy
fans can surely identify with. The guitars shift in tone and pace often, coming to abrupt halts or speeding up to full tilt. With the abrupt changes of pace, I find the atmosphere shifts too. The fasest and most incomprehensible moments have the distinct vibe of a garage band going ape, whereas the more intelligible moments have a graveyard/crypt tone, a tone that implies decay and rot. Generally, though, everything seems swampy and dingy. When the guitars take centre stage, their odd-sounding riffs add an element of ominous surreality which I find is best showcased on Funereality. The only thing that serves as an anchor to the sporadic music is the drums, which unfortunately lack the bone-crushing intensity found on Mental Funeral
, though they still have many oppurtunities to go above and beyond standard timekeeping, and consequently have a good amount of variety.
Chris Reifert's roaring, gurgling growls and screams of Mental
Fuenral and Severed Survival
have become short, spitting shouts that give the music an immediate and somewhat rushed tone, but Chris treats the listener with the occassional prolonged screams and growls that seem to bounce off the tight confines of the claustrophobic coffin that the music creates. There is some experimentation with them too--sometimes Chris tries a punkish yell, and at other times there seems to be some digitalized vocal effect on them, but both of these things happen rarely throughout the album.
Acts of the Unspeakable
has 18 songs that flash by in 35 minutes, most songs hovering around the two minute mark, with one song just touching the four minute mark, and one song being as short as twenty seconds. This causes for many screeching halts followed by short silences in the music. For those that aren't used to this kind of short songs/long track list thing, it may be hard to focus on much of what's going on, but a few listens will help everything come together better. Although the many songs do come off like a band's early demo, sporadic and hectic and unpolished even after multiple listens, and it can be irritating, especially from track 14-16, where I find the music the most unintelligible and clattery. This is quite the detractor, expecially considering the focused structure and meaty but consistent flow of Mental Funeral
and Severed Survival
Although Acts of the Unspeakable
is more primal and unfocused than the previous two Autopsy
albums, it still has a lot to offer in the way of doom-and-gloom riffs and interesting melodies and atmosphere. I defenitely don't hate this album, and I do personally find that the strong points overpower the weaker ones. Some of my favorite Autopsy
moments (again, favorites on this album come in the form of moments rather than songs) are on this album, and I don't consider it to be a total failure or waste of time.
Favorite overall songs for me have been mentioned already, but I'll just say them again here: Your Rotting
, and Funereality are all the best songs for me, as they give the best taste of atmosphere and consistency and structure, and are therefore more memorable than, say, Spinal Extraction, which plows through its 20-second runtime without pause (although for Funereality I cna say I prefer the re-recording of it that was on the Severed Survival
re-release). Walls of the Coffin comes close to being a favorite as well. If you're not like me and like a crazy dosage of speed and chaos, Ugliness and Secretions would be your best bet. This may not be Autopsy
's best album, but it is still good for the old death metal collection, and you most likely will not be thouroughly dissapointed in the album.