AUTOPSY’S CHRIS REIFERT: THE METALSUCKS INTERVIEW
photo by Maciej Mutwil
Chris Reifert is a man who likes to work slowly. His doom-drenched, depraved death metallic music is murderously slow. The long, long, long-awaited reunion of his band Autopsy took over a decade. Their ensuing brand-new full-length album, Macabre Eternal, materialized tantalizingly slowly.
He apparently also takes his damn time when it comes to answering interviews from keyboard jockeys like yours truly. His answers were worth the wait, though – and how could I possibly be irked at the man behind “Charred Remains?”
Check it out:
No problem. And yeah, it’s been insane, but what am I gonna do? Complain? Well, yeah. Waaah! Boo Hoo! Sob! Fume! Bitch! Moan!
Well, I certainly feel better now.
It’s the most clichéd question imaginable, and one that I’m sure you’ve had to answer a million times by now, but, for the sake of those who are unfamiliar with the band: who is Autopsy, and why did you decide to get back together and release new material?
Autopsy is a charming little combo based in Oakland, California, who wants to take you gently by the hand and lead you into a glowing sunset while rainbows smile at you and birds wink at you and then push you off a lovely little cliff where you will fall to your doom.
That’s also why we got back together.
You guys have been going hard since the reformation began in earnest. You started playing shows again, a new album began taking shape, and in 2010 alone, Nuclear War Now! released the Awakened in Gore compilation, and The Tomb Within EP dropped. You even released a promo video – a first for Autopsy. What made you decide to do a video, and, seriously – what’s up with those goofy flames?
Yep, we’ve been busy, busy, busy indeed. So much so that flames randomly appear around us at the most inopportune times. Whilst in my local 7-11 is my least favorite place for this to unexpectedly happen.
What’s been the most satisfying element to this whole reunion? The fans’ reaction, the positive press coverage, or just being back with your friends crushing skulls and slinging riffs?
All of those things are nice, and the free parking can’t be beat!
After all these years, it’s nice to see that you’ve stuck with original label Peaceville instead of jumping ship. I’m sure there was a helluva bidding war going on out there once you announced plans to record the new album. What is your relationship like with the label currently?
We still get on great with Peaceville. As for a bidding war, if there was one I certainly wasn’t aware of it. Oops, I mean yeah, it was savage stuff. Blood was shed, pants were pooped, and posers died!
The new album has gotten a wildly positive reception, and for good reason – it fuckin’ rules! Can you tell me a bit about the writing process for this beast, and what went on in the studio?
Thanks so much for the generous helping of flattery. It will get you everywhere with this lot! Writing was simple: make it sound like Autopsy, and I don’t mean imitating stuff we had already done. Although I do like the sound of Severed Retribution for the Mental Fiend of the Unspeakably Horrific Tomb Eternal Part 2. Well, maybe next time. The studio was a veritable hive of scum and villainy only without all the cool Star Wars creatures. Unless you count us, of course.
Songs like “Always About to Die,” “Sewn Into One,” and the title track are perfect examples of Autopsy’s dark, menacing amalgamation of death and doom. What draws you guys as songwriters and as fans to the slower, more bludgeoning style of death, as opposed to the hypertechnical warp speed that so many modern bands jock?
Again, thanks a ton. And what can I say, we like the heavy stuff! We play from the bowels, not from the brain. Dig it!
Death metal’s old guard hasn’t aged well. So many of the greats have gotten stale, gotten old, and gotten, well, whatever it is Morbid Angel are going for. Autopsy, though, sound just as evil, dirty, and brutally heavy as you did in 1987. No keyboards, no breakdowns, no techno beats, no clean singing, just death fucking metal. How have you managed to keep the faith after so many years?
We never learned any better. Lord knows our mamas tried!
How did you get into death metal in the first place? How about rock music in general? Did you have the cool older brother or wacky uncle slipping you KISS tapes, or did you find it on your own?
I found KISS on my own through the magic medium that is television commercials. When I was nine, I saw the commercial for their solo albums (do the math, heh heh!) and it instantly warped my young fragile mind. There was no turning back and metal was just a logical progression, or quest for the heavy. As they came along, I devoured the next heavy thing over and over. It’s easy to go from Kiss to Black Sabbath (who I discovered a couple of years after Kiss) to Iron Maiden to Venom to Slayer to Mantas/Death to…..
What is it you love so much about this style of music? How would you explain death metal to someone who’d never heard it?
I don’t know why I love it so much, but I still do nonetheless. Someone who has never heard of it can be told it sounds like Black Sabbath on speed perhaps? Better yet, duct tape some headphones on their head and crank up Macabre Eternal at a level that causes profuse bleeding from the eyes and intestinal implosions. That oughtta do it.
“Old school death metal” has become something of a micro-trend within the underground (and even aboveground – look at Century Media’s signing Sonne Adam!). Why do you think people are turning back towards the roots of the genre now? What’s the appeal?
I haven’t a clue. Maybe it just sounds good to folks. All we can do on our end is keep dishing out the sick stuff.
We are indeed doing a US tour. Not really, but you did ask and who am I to deny a simple request like that? Actually it was the “come on” part that got my heart strings to pluckin’.
To be not such a sarcastic shithead, we can only do small ventures at a time. We do have obligations at home as well as the fact that if we went on a tour, we would probably hate being in the band again and it would all come undone. A nasty little jaunt here and there is much more realistic for us.
Thanks so much for taking the time to chat. The last words are yours.
Thanks yourself, and these are the last words for the moment.
Kim Kelly (or Grim Kim, if we’re being formal) scribbles for a number of sweet metal publications (Terrorizer, Brooklyn Vegan, Invisible Oranges, Hails & Horns, and tons more), promotes wicked records with Catharsis PR, and road dogs for your favorite bands. Keep up with her exploits & numerous band recommendations on Twitter, or peep her blog Ravishing Grimness.