Sound — 9
Much like how Dave Mustaine left the most influential thrash metal band, Metallica, only to start his own cardinally influential thrash metal band, Megadeth, Death's original drummer, Chris Reifert, would end up leaving the pioneering death metal band and end up creating Autopsy - his own death metal band that would prove to be just as influential of a band in the history of extreme metal. With the band's lifespan beginning in 1985, they would go on to release four albums, each gaining a lot of praise and holding a lot of significance in the metal world, but Autopsy ended up breaking up before the release of their fourth album, "Shitfun." After more than a decade, Autopsy would temporarily reunite to record a couple of new songs, but then the band permanently reunited a couple years later and have provided a steady stream of new releases since 2010, and have been quite satisfactory to metal fans everywhere. Continuing the momentum of the 21st-century-era of their career, Autopsy have now released their seventh studio album: the unapologetically grotesque "Tourniquets, Hacksaws and Graves."
If the explicitly gory (and perhaps even self-parodic) album cover wasn't a dead giveaway (pun intended), the music inside "Tourniquets, Hacksaws and Graves" is almost fifty minutes of blood-boiling, stomach-turning, unrelenting death metal - also known as the top-quality death metal one could ever desire. Autopsy uses nearly every trick in their book, and, as one would expect from an Autopsy album, constantly shift gears throughout each song and throughout the album, violently whipping you around as a result. On one hand, you'll find a lot of fleeting fast, thrash-inspired riffs, such as in the frenetic opener, "Savagery," "After the Cutting," which features Reifert pulling off a true-to-form drum solo, "Forever Hungry" and "Autopsy," and just about every guitar solo featured on the album has a thrash flavor to it. On the other hand, you'll find a plentiful amount of the seething, slow-burning, sludgy doom metal riffs in nearly every song - though most notably, the song "Burial" has an extraordinary slow and filthy vibe to it, and listening to it is like being dragged through Hell at a glacier's pace; but then at the end, a whirlwind of thrashing fury blows you away. You'll also find some nice groove-metal-influenced riffs in "King of Flesh Ripped," "The Howling Dead" and "After the Cutting"; some awesome tremolo picking riffs in "Savagery" and "Autopsy"; and "Teeth of the Shadow Horde" has an early, pre-21st century metalcore feel to it.
Lyrics — 6
In regards to the lyrics, what else would you expect from Autopsy? Just like how the music aspect is dark and horrific, the lyrics are so over-the-top brutal and abhorrent that they make your skin crawl - and with them being delivered in Reifert's nauseatingly guttural growls, it's a perfect match. From the story of a shipwrecked crew being captured by a cannibalistic tribe in "Savagery," the detailing of mutilating a victim in "Tourniquets, Hacksaws and Graves" and self-mutilation in "King of Flesh Ripped," to the anguished hellborn spirit subject matter in "The Howling Dead" and "Teeth of the Shadow Horde," all lyrics in each song are jam-packed with appalling visuals of pools of blood, decaying flesh, and entrails pulled apart like string cheese. While this approach to lyrics is fit-to-form for extreme metal, it of course can't be deemed anything really ingenious, and while it fulfills the role it's meant to serve, there are some cheesy moments: such as "your mere contribution surely falls short/ after this you'll wish your mother chose to abort."
Overall Impression — 9
At face value, this album shows a kitschy level of gruesomeness that's stereotypically associated with extreme metal - some make fun of it, some deny and fight the stereotyping, and others revel in it. It's not hard to tell that Autopsy is of the group that whole-heartedly revels in the repulsive nature of their music, and when you listen to "Tourniquets, Hacksaws and Graves," you understand that their dedication is the X factor that pushes an album of this genre to the top. You can tell that along with mixing up a bunch of metal styles together to make this morbid stew of a death metal album, Autopsy put their ice-cold hearts, their charcoal-black souls, and their rotting guts into it as well. Their commitment to bringing some of the most monstrous metal out there will ironically be a delight for listeners that are prepared.