Morbidity Triumphant

rating icon 8.5 / 10

Track listing:

01. Stab The Brain
02. Final Frost
03. The Voracious One
04. Born In Blood
05. Flesh Strewn Temple
06. Tapestry Of Scars
07. Knife Slice, Axe Chop
08. Skin By Skin
09. Maggots In The Mirror
10. Slaughterer Of Souls
11. Your Eyes Will Turn To Dust

In 1987 drummer and vocalist Chris Reifert, not long after his departure from DEATH, and guitarist Eric Cutler formed AUTOPSY, one of death metal's most revered bands. Their early impact helped define what death metal is; their influence upon key bands and hordes of fans is simply immeasurable, and their ongoing contribution to the scene is profound. The quartet is poised to release the appropriately entitled "Morbidity Triumphant", its first new full-length studio album since 2014's "Tourniquets, Hacksaws and Graves". Simply put, "Morbidity Triumphant" is a world-class display of death metal that's timeless, unique and worth the time of any self-respecting death metal fan.

The unit hasn't always been active, disbanding in 1995 before reuniting 13 years later, but a part of the band's enduring success has been its stability. Guitarist Danny Corralles has been a part of the fold since 1988. And now joining the core trio is bassist Greg Wilkinson, very much a kindred spirit who also performs alongside Reifert in the impressive AUTOPSY side-project STATIC ABYSS.

What makes "Morbidity Triumphant" special is the interesting dichotomy of ugliness and beauty. The California band has always been lauded for its filthy, grimy essence, but the guitar melodies have never been so soothing. Long-time fans need not worry. They haven't sold out nor betrayed their manifestation and celebration of darkness. It's just that their understanding of powerful heavy metal melody has never been so pronounced and tastefully employed. There's an elegance and charm when Reifert rolls his R, saying, "Ignore the stench of rotting eyes," on "Skin by Skin" during the song's death/doom portion before the bursting into unhinged, explosive, up-tempo death metal fury.

Dichotomy has always been prominent with AUTOPSY, that shift between death/doom and intense, skull-bashing death metal intensity. They do so smoothly in a way that makes sense in terms of the transition, but with enough sense of drama to ensure that it's captivating. This is exceptionally evident on a track like "Slaughterer Of Souls". And they seduce and bait you to come closer with a hypnotic, eerie guitar melody that rests atop a simple rock beat prior to a choppier full-frontal assault that's commandeered by Refeirt's scathing vocals on "Tapestry Of Scars".

Maintaining relevance many decades into any band's career without bowing to newer trends can be challenging, to say the least. But AUTOPSY have done so by remaining true to their origins while being relatively adventurous and continuing to improve as songwriters. "The Voracious One", for instance, offers sounds that would appeal to fans of Southern metal and sludge seemingly without intending to do so and without straying from their template. "Morbidity Triumphant" offers so many subtle intricacies while being so simple, in your face and immediate: Absolutely brilliant. "Morbidity Triumphant" is definitely one of the year's best death metal albums.

Author: Jay H. Gorania
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