Home > Music > Autopsy – Mental Funeral (1991)

Autopsy – Mental Funeral (1991)

folderMental Funeral came out just months before a new wave of death metal massively upped the ante for technical wizardry and aggression in the genre. Surprisingly, those aren’t the end all of death metal, and Mental Funeral is still well remembered today (although, to be fair, it helps that Autopsy is still releasing new material). I guess the deal with Autopsy is that they’re a step or two closer to the earliest underground extreme metal bands in approach, especially since you can make the corresponding case that a lot of the post-1991 death metal (and some before that, of course) took cues from Autopsy and exaggerated them.

One important bit of Autopsy-lore is that there’s always been a strong influence from doom metal in their music. It’s not their primary constituent and there are contemporary albums that delve way further into the concept (like Cathedral’s debut), but it does tend to slow down and space out even the fastest of Autopsy’s songs. Either way, the partial usage of doom tropes leads to a lot of stark and sudden shifts in dynamics and tempo that Autopsy uses to good effect throughout this album. The obvious comparison is probably Celtic Frost – besides the aforementioned musical elements, Autopsy also shares the simplicity of riffs and a tendency to vary song structures that gets you a lot of bonus respect points in some circles. It’s a step up from their debut, but only in execution – Severed Survival had its share of song-complicating transitions, but they’re both more numerous and more effective here.

It should be apparent to you now that I think that Autopsy does a good job with their songwriting on Mental Funeral, since their approach allows them to do a great deal with a generally minimal instrumental/technical palette. The songs here are backed up by an excellent and highly appropriate production. The more tactily inclined amongst us could describe it as sludgy, due to its thick, downtuned guitars, highly audible bass, and its reverb-drenched drums. All things that have been done before, but the drums are produced so effectively that they draw my attention despite me not being particularly percussion oriented. There have been successful death metal albums with more treble, less reverb, etc (for instance, Suffocation’s full length debut), but I personally wouldn’t want any drastic changes to how Mental Funeral is mixed.

All of this adds up to an album that could theoretically be difficult listening. Personally, I found most of my difficulties with Autopsy were solved by careful study of their debut album, so when I finally sat down with this, I was just glad to hear an improved version of what was already a strong formula.

Highlights: “Fleshcrawl/Torn From The Womb”, “Robbing the Grave”, “Hole in the Head”

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