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4.22 | 18 ratings | 4 reviews
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Album · 1991

Filed under Death Metal


1. Twisted Mass of Burnt Decay (2:14)
2. In the Grip of Winter (4:09)
3. Fleshcrawl (0:35)
4. Torn From the Womb (3:19)
5. Slaughterday (4:13)
6. Dead (3:37)
7. Robbing the Grave (4:19)
8. Hole in the Head (6:03)
9. Destined to Fester (4:33)
10. Bonesaw (0:45)
11. Dark Crusade (4:02)
12. Mental Funeral (0:32)

Total Time: 38:25


- Chris Reifert / Vocals, Drums, Lyrics (tracks 1-4, 6-12)
- Danny Coralles / Guitars, Vocals (additional) (tracks 2, 6)
- Eric Cutler / Guitars, Vocals, Lyrics (track 5)
- Steve Cutler / Bass

- The Boogieman / Vocals (additional) (tracks 2, 6)
- Mike / Vocals (additional) (tracks 2, 6)
- Bob / Vocals (additional) (tracks 2, 6)
- Troy / Vocals (additional) (tracks 2, 6)
- Paul "Hammy" Halmshaw / Vocals (additional) (tracks 2, 6)
- Ron / Vocals (additional) (tracks 2, 6)
- Derrick / Vocals (additional) (tracks 2, 6)
- Scott / Vocals (additional) (tracks 2, 6)
- Jordan / Vocals (additional) (tracks 2, 6)

About this release

Peaceville Records, April 22nd, 1991

Music by Autopsy.

Released in a digipak without Retribution for the Dead.

Released as a picture LP.

First release on green vinyl.

Older digipak reissue version also exists with only Retribution for the Dead as a bonus track.

Reissued by Peaceville Records in 2003 remastered in a digipak with bonus tracks:
13. Retribution for the Dead (03:54)
14. Ridden with Disease (Demo) (04:42)
15. Service for a Vacant Coffin (Live) (03:30)

Reissued by Peaceville Records in 2009 remastered with the same bonus tracks as the 2003 reissue.

Reissued by Peaceville Records on March 15th 2010 on LP as a 180g gatefold colored vinyl limited to 1000 numbered copies.

Recorded at Different Fur, San Francisco, November 20-26 1990.
Produced by Paul "Hammy" Halmshaw and Autopsy.

Thanks to UMUR for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

The YouTube program Lock Horns by Banger TV, the same fine people who do Banger Films, has been a wonderful way for me to learn about bands. Autopsy is one such band that came up on an episode about early death metal and I had already seen their album “Severed Survival” mentioned on some old school death metal lists. “Mental Funeral” was my second purchase of the band’s output and it is this album that really made me feel it money well-spent.

There are three things that I get excited about when listening to “Mental Funeral”. First, this is a band that knows how to come up with really awesome riffs. In fact, I would say many of their coolest riffs are like an alternate universe’s Black Sabbath with maybe some Pentagram in there as well. Oh, they have their slow doom, pounding chords and their speedy, cantering death attacks. But Autopsy easily slip in this groovy riffs that swagger with the drums. The thing is, just about every song will include all three approaches, meaning you never know when a song will abruptly change gear or how it will change. A charging intro might drop down with some crushing slow chords and then throw in some swinging groove early doom riff. Nice!

Next, I love the guitar sound. It makes me think of a band that was going for a seventies doom metal sound rather than a nineties death metal sound. It just sounds like old school distortion but it’s so nice on my ears. It’s interesting to note that the title of the song “In the Grip of Winter” was inspired by the Budgie song title “In the Grip of a Tyrefitter’s Hand”. Seems like there is some old school influence after all.

Third, they did something with the drums. I don’t know if they loosened the skin on the snare or what it is, but the drums have this slightly slack, clacking, slapping sound that for me just works so well on this album. I doubt I’d want to hear it in too many other places but for “Mental Funeral” I think it’s just wicked. Add to that the fact that drummer and vocalist Chris Reifert can play his drums with slick skill makes the percussion section even more interesting to listen to. I particularly noticed how he doesn’t rely on the double kick drums too often, employing them to great effect when he does.

Now it’s funny that I noticed just now that the drummer is also the lead vocalist because as I was listening to the album on my way home tonight, I was thinking of how to describe the vocals and at first I thought of a large, drooling troll but soon it came to me that Reifert sounds like Animal from The Muppets only three times larger in size. He’s like a a troll-sized Animal doing vocals, and since Animal is also a drummer, well, it just fits. What is he growling about? I don’t really know though I can guess it’s gory and bloody and gross.

I have so far brought home nearly 50 albums since I began delving deeply into extreme metal from this spring and this album has been one of the more outstanding ones. I don’t know if Autopsy’s next album followed this style but for now, “Mental Funeral” is likely to make my top ten favourite purchases of the year.
"Mental Funeral" is the 2nd full-length studio album by US death metal act Autopsy. The album was released through Peaceville Records in April 1991. At a time where many US death metal acts incorporated more technical playing and sophisticated ideas to their music, Autopsy remained a guarantee for old school sounding, filthy and doomy death metal. Today that may not sound neither original nor innovative, as a lot of artists play music in that style, but back then they did stand out and they were generally considered original. They may be old school, but it´s not because their sound didn´t develop from album to album, because it certainly did, and they in some ways unconventional.

"Severed Survival (1989)" was a pretty straight sounding old school death metal album, that´s basically brutal thrash with growling vocals, but already on the "Retribution for the Dead (1991)" EP (which shares two tracks with "Mental Funeral" albeit in different versions), Autopsy made a notable change to their sound as they began incorporating slow doomy sections to their music. A stylistic element they would explore much further on "Mental Funeral".

"Mental Funeral" features 12 tracks distributed over a 37:54 minutes long playing time and it´s a perfect length for the album. Autopsy really understand how to entertain their listeners with a relatively varied songwriting approach. We´re treated to both faster-paced and mid-paced heavy grooves and of course the many doomy sections mentioned above. Not all changes in pace or style work equally well, but the sometimes messy structures and adventurous ideas are part of the album´s charm and it´s always interesting to explore the music to see where it´s headed next. Tracks like "Twisted Mass of Burnt Decay", "In the Grip of Winter", "Robbing the Grave", and "Hole in the Head" are absolute old school US death metal classics and the same can be said about most of the material on "Mental Funeral".

The filthy and raw sound production provides the album with a gloomy and morbid atmosphere, which is only further enhanced by the gory lyrical themes, Chris Reifert´s brutal growling vocals, and the organic playing by the band. The twisted guitar harmonies, which are a trademark of Autopsy´s sound were also born on "Mental Funeral". "Mental Funeral" is often referred to as a classic US death metal album and rightfully so. It´s the band´s most genre defining release and to my ears their peak. If you´re interested in the doomier side of death metal, that´s still stylistically grounded enough in death metal, that it´s not valid to tag it doom metal, "Mental Funeral" is mandatory listening. A 4.5 star (90%) rating is deserved.
Autopsy's Mental Funeral is an ugly and minimalistic beast, lashing out with occasional bursts of brutality that show some technical depth. The key to the album's original sound, though, is that Autopsy deliberately weren't taking past in the fastness war so many other death metal bands seemed to be engaged in at this time, instead keeping things mid-tempo and occasionally slowing down for some pioneering death-doom action. An album constructed for multiple listens, this one won't reveal all its flavour with one go, but attentive listeners will note just how many tricks the band hide away within their apparently thuggish and lowbrow facade.

Members reviews

This album is almost two decades old, and it still mops the floor with all other death metal released in the succeeding years. While this is partially an indication of the sorry state of modern death metal, it is also a testament to the immense, lasting power that Mental Funeral carries. From the crushing opening of Twisted Mass of Burnt Decay to the slowly dripping clean notes of the final track, the music stands in a league of its own; this is one of those albums that you will never find boring.

Drummer Chris Reifert has stated his songwriting motivations in rather simple terms – to make “the sickest shit imaginable” or some such banality. But that phrase describes precisely what Mental Funeral is: lopsided, intentionally out-of-balance song structures; mischievously deranged riffs, very often spiced with multilayering for added harmonic effect; atonal guitar solos that appear out of nowhere, later to give way to yet another set of bizarre riffs; rhythms that bounce from rabid gallops to torturous crawls and everything in between.

Far from a textbook example of death metal, the album is a magnificent work from a band that did what it wanted even if it never won them any popularity contests in their active days. This was neither the fastest nor the most technical band in existence then, and it would be even farther from that status in today’s world where Niles and Cryptopsies reign. What sets Autopsy apart from the crowd is that Reifert & Co. never concentrated on one gimmick (technicality, “brutality”, speed, lack thereof, or what have you) but directed all of their energies into solid songwriting, employing whatever elements they thought proper. The end result is a mixture of vastly different bits and pieces well forged together: for example, the 35-second guitar-only interlude Fleshcrawl is a perfect way to both deliver a little pause from the brutality that preceded it and also lead into the next piece of dismal suffering.

There is a multitude of little rhythmic tricks that initially go unnoticed, but as one realizes how seamlessly the odd time signatures and other such surprises are set in the bigger picture, it heightens the listening experience even further; an underlying complexity permeates an album created by some guys who just wanted to record “brutal shit”. In contrast, when a modern death metal band goes into 7/8 time, you’ll be certain to hear them hailed as “progressive”, “inventive” and “different”. The difference, of course, is that for new bands it is a gimmick, while for Autopsy it was merely a way to drive a song forward with a little twist. Feel free to mail me about the exceptions in today’s world, for I am too sick of contemporary death metal to actively keep following it any more. In the meantime, I’ll cherish this classic like a Mongol cherishes his horse.

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