Autopsy - _Ridden With Disease_
(Necroharmonic, 2001)
Autopsy - _Torn From the Grave_
(Peaceville, 2001)
Murder Squad - _Unsane, Insane and Mentally Deranged_
(Pavement, 2001)
by: Paul Schwarz (9 / 8 / 8.5 out of 10)
It's strangely fitting that two compilations which acknowledge the brilliance of Autopsy should have been released at the same time as Murder Squad's debut album. Murder Squad features members of Dismember and Entombed, and essentially pays tribute to the glory of the US' necro-tastic masters of gore-drenched death metal by unashamedly ripping them off, as well as ripping off their own bands' older material, which itself was much-influenced by Autopsy. Confused? I would be if I wasn't explaining it myself. There's a multiplicity of tail-eating going on within Murder Squad, but essentially, and musically, what ties these three releases together is very simple: they were all made possible by the influential, original sounds recorded by drummer/vocalist Chris Reifert, guitarists Danny Corales and Eric Cutler, and a range of bassists -- including Sadus/Death bass-guru Steve Dio-Giorgio. Reviewing the three releases together seemed like the natural thing to do.

The Swedes in particular, and Scandinavians in general, have been crucial in keeping the Autopsy legend alive in the years since the band's demise in 1994 -- by comparison, the North American scene seemed to take little pride in Autopsy until the "necro-sound" began becoming re-accepted (fashionable?) following the reawakening of Necrophagia with Phil Anselmo's involvement, and related events. The two compilations presented here are of very different character, purpose and appeal. Peaceville have essentially released _Torn From the Grave_ as a retrospective. Crammed to the brim with material from all Autopsy's albums and complemented by five non-album offerings, its 27 tracks clock a total of 70:54 minutes. _Ridden with Disease_, on the other hand, collects Autopsy's two demos _'87 demo_ and _Critical Madness_ (from 1988) and adds two raw, rough and ripping live tracks recorded in Bramberg to reach a total running time of 33:07. _TFtG_'s selections from Autopsy's four albums and two EPs are acceptable; though my personal choices would have been different and I'm suspicious of how carefully the track choices were made, the 22 tracks do reasonably well at representing six years of Autopsy's music-making. It will serve as a reasonable introduction to Autopsy for someone who has never heard the band, though I'd personally say that their 1991 classic _Mental Funeral_ is the best place for anyone to start. As with many death metal bands, a compilation is not the best way to introduce Autopsy -- and though Chris Reifert's writ gives _TFtG_'s material a context, _TFtG_ ultimately doesn't provide sufficient written material about Autopsy to sway it's status as "not the place to start". For those already familiar with Autopsy, _TFtG_ may be worth buying for a number of reasons. Firstly, if you only own _Mental Funeral_, this may be an economic way to sample their other releases; though it doesn't produce all the releases' best material, it gives you an idea of what to expect from them. However, if you own everything official by Autopsy, _TFtG_ is unlikely to be worth shelling-out for. Two of the non-album offerings are included on _Ridden With Disease_ -- which any fan who doesn't happen to be so long-standing or devoted that they already own the Autopsy demos and the Bramberg live tape should buy first -- and the other three are not essential: live versions of "Robbing the Grave" and "Shiteater", and a slightly different version of "Funereality", taken from the _Peaceville - Vol.4_ compilation album. _Ridden With Disease_ is a must-buy for any Autopsy fan -- even if you've only got _Mental Funeral_. The demos are raw as hell yet not unclear. Quite simply, they kick ass! And even if you -have- got all of Autopsy's other stuff and are a little wary of shelling out for a release featuring only different versions, you'll still want _Ridden With Disease_, because "Human Genocide" and "Mauled to Death" (from _'87 Demo_) never made it onto any of Autopsy's official recordings. The Bramberg live recordings also absolutely kill.

Murder Squad, despite the colossal debt it self-confessedly owes to Autopsy, is definitely a somewhat different kettle of fish to Autopsy themselves. Yes, it certainly is riff and feel driven, beer-swilling and headbanging death metal with no excuses made and no trimmings to be seen, but it doesn't sound as much like Autopsy as you'd expect, considering the fact that according to its members, most of it is essentially supposed to [see Dismember story in CoC #48 for Matti Karki's comments about Murder Squad]. If you do a little bit of musical trainspotting, you'll be able to spot Dismember, Entombed and Autopsy riffs on _U,I&MD_. If you get even more nerdy with this practice, you'll start noting which are from which period of each band, and which (of the Entombed and Dismember riffs) were essentially Autopsy-derived themselves. The same goes for the solos. However, this is not the way to enjoy _U,I&MD_, and its fluid, coherent feel (as an album) certainly doesn't prompt you to partake in such sad antics. The one-day, one-take production and spontaneous feel makes Murder Squad one of the coolest, most originally Stockholm sounding albums to be recorded in years, and the fact that it reminds in so many places of Autopsy is part and parcel of this -- Autopsy, Repulsion and other late-Eighties US demo bands were crucial in shaping the Swedish death metal sound that was born in the Stockholm scene. Lurking amongst all the old, repeated musical sounds, is a hint of a style of Murder Squad's own -- evidenced mostly on the title track -- but essentially _U,I&MD_ is best-suited to those of you who want to hear four Swedes relive the "good old days" on record, in fine, loose, drunk, stoned and head-lolling form -- and if you're a fan of Autopsy, that'll help too!

(article published 12/8/2001)


ALBUMS
8/3/2006 T DePalma 8 Autopsy - Dark Crusades DVD
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