With their debut album, Autopsy
proved themselves to be one of the most vile and filthy bands in all of death metal, with their disgusting, meat-and-potatoes take on the style. (influenced by bands like Celtic Frost
and demo to first album-era Death, amongst others) The band essentially paved the way for legions of death metal bands in their wake – especially in Sweden – and would pave the way for even more bands with this opus, one of the greatest releases in all of death metal.
saw the band continue from where they had left off with the 1990 EP Retribution
– whereas Autopsy
had previously utilized doomy passages in their songs before, Mental Funeral
sees them completely embrace that as both the dominant tempo and mood of the album. There are still faster passages here and there, invoking quite a bit of Celtic Frost
influence, but even those moments absolutely drip with the vile atmosphere and feel that is part and parcel of the writing on here.
The riffs are outstanding on this record. Black Sabbath
is a massive influence here, with a ton of low-volume, dirge-ridden tritone riffing that marks these songs. (albeit lacking Sabbath’s overt blues influence) What makes the riffwork on this album so excellent is not just how well they’re crafted, but how they exude the dark, decaying, tomb-like atmosphere that is so crucial to these songs. The bass work is similarly excellent, following the guitars but also standing out quite a bit as the leading instrument used during some of these breaks; it is utilized with taste here. Lead guitar work is pretty effective, with a melodic yet incredibly eerie sense that only heightens the immense atmosphere. Adding even more to the atmosphere is Chris Reifert’s vocals, which have taken on a sickening, bellowing tone to them than previous; you couldn’t find a more fitting vocalist for this style of death metal.
In terms of actual songs, every one of the tracks on here is excellent, with the excellent riffcraft and the often sudden yet appropriate way in which the band put together these songs; many of the breaks are appropriately placed and not just slapped in for the sake of it. The short sub-minute songs seem pointless but they take on a greater meaning in the context of the rest. “Twisted Mass
of Burnt Decay
” stands out as probably the most overtly ‘upbeat’ (if such a thing could actually be said about this record), but it sets the tone for the record immediately. “Dead
From the Womb”, and “Hole
in The Head
” features some incredibly eerie riffwork and a twisted melodic character to the leads. “Dark Crusade
” and the title track close the album off in brilliant fashion, the former beginning as a faster, Celtic Frost
-esque number before finalling breaking down into the dirge-ridden riffs, dripping with a languid feel, while the title track is a short yet haunting outro melody that perfectly closes the record off. Even the short sub minute tracks actually are fairly good; they’re a little pointless on their own, but they fit into the greater scheme of the album, when put into context as to where they’re placed in the tracklist.
The production on this perfectly fits the music: it’s dark, filthy, and as noted earlier, it really does lend a tomb-like feel to the songs here. The guitar and bass tones are meaty, if not quite as much so as the debut. The drums on here have an extremely loose, almost clattering feel to them, but they ultimately fit this sound extremely well. Reifert’s vocals are upfront without being overly loud, and the useage of reverb is pretty appropriate here.
This really is an outstanding album – I tend to go back and forth between this album and Severed Survival
, but Autopsy
on their early efforts were one of the best bands in all of death metal. Highly recommended to anybody interested in death metal as a subgenre.