For all their talk of corpses and the fun things to do with them, Autopsy clearly have no intention of dying. However much fifteen years away from the wheel might have sounded like the scraping stone of a tomb closing, the death metal format-shapers don't seem to have lost a single, squelching step. In fact, when put back to back, 2022's phenomenal effort Morbidly Triumphant and Ashes, Organs, Blood And Crypts seem to be heralding some sort of twilight era reclamation of their pedestal. Good for them, yes. But especially good for us.
More than that, though, Autopsy seem to be genuinely enjoying themselves nowadays. Ashes is far more proof than an exception to that idea. For starters, just listen to every madcap bout of riffs that Eric Cutler and Danny Coralles trade back and forth. "Bones to the Wolves" feels like a lovingly crafted tempo tribute to Reign In Blood with its bends and steps bookended by huge, wailing sections, while the pair sound like two great squealing gladiators smashing each other to pieces on opener "Rabid Funeral". It loses a bit of the crunch that Autopsy's previous efforts provided in the process but adds a new dimension that plays off the knee-deep filth spectacularly.
Meanwhile, founder and resident skin-pummeler Chris Reifert is as ferocious as he was thirty years ago, laying down aneurysm-inducing drum work that will rattle those little bones right out of your ears. But he too seems to be relishing his part in the fetid-ry more than usual. His voice sounds better than ever in some places – see both pace and an almost breathy mature sound in "Death Is The Answer" for details – and he throws out every trick in his little book of guttural noises through the full runtime. Seriously, all of them. Squeaks, grunts, shouts, growls, coughs and splutters. All he'd have to do is fart down the mic to complete the set.
Even with the fun stripped out, there'd be no want of tracks that rank alongside the band's very best and gnarliest. In and amongst the fresher dead, there's still room for classic Autopsy sound. "Throatsaw" is the best example and nothing short of disgusting in the best way possible, a two-and-a-half minute pulverizing session that blends hardcore with being beaten to death with a brick.
Then there's the towering and surprisingly grandiose doom influence on "Well of Entrails", which is ripped away so hard at the halfway point it'll break fingers and is replaced with a barrage of grime and anatomical debris. For every new chunk in the stew, there's something horrendous floating on the surface as a reminder of exactly who Autopsy are at their core.
2023 will go down as a vintage year for death metal and Ashes, Organs, Blood And Crypts will be one of the biggest, goriest reasons why. There's blood-soaked joy to be had here from brutal start to grisly end and every new element introduced is matched pound for pound by the pure ferocity of Autopsy in their prime. If you like your desecrated remains matured to a fine ripeness, then Ashes is a death metal treat served steaming by the death metal genre's undisputed Michelin star chefs. Bon Appétit.