Artist: Embryonic Autopsy
Album Title: Prophecies Of The Conjoined
Label: Massacre Records
Date of Release: 18 February 2022
What better way to ward off the sickly-sweet sentiment of Valentine’s Day than with some gnarly, brutal death metal? You know, the kind that just wants to pulverise and destroy everything in its path. Forget flowers, chocolate, and the whispering of sweet nothings, instead I want bruising riffs, blastbeats, and guttural growls that are so low and tortured that they almost sound cartoonish, as if they are not quite real. And so, ladies and gentlemen, I bring you Embryonic Autopsy, and their debut album, ‘Prophecies Of The Conjoined’. Take that Saint Valentine’s Day; in your face!
Ok, so now we’ve got the picture as to my feelings towards yet another event with religious origins, it’s time to focus more closely on the record at hand. As I’ve said, it’s the debut for Embryonic Autopsy, a trio comprised of Oppressor vocalist Tim King, ex-OTEP guitarist, bassist, and keyboardist Scott Roberts, as well as drummer Arnaud Krakowka. The Chicago-based trio are joined by others in the live arena, namely bassist Rob Such, and drummer Jason Meudt. And, on this first studio release, they also boast guest appearances from James Murphy (Death, Obituary, Testament), Suffocation’s Terrance Hobbs, God Forbid’s Doc Coyle, and Justin James, all of whom offer solos on one track apiece.
According to the Massacre Records press release, the apparent modus operandi of Embryonic Autopsy is: “No studio tricks. No gimmicks. Just one goal: To bring back the guttural and raw force of early 90’s death metal the way it was meant to be.” To me, that sounds great, the perfect antidote to the hideously pink and fluffy time of year. The great thing is though, that the music itself sounds just as good as the surrounding record label descriptions.
Unusually for me, I took to this record from the very beginning, and have enjoyed listening to it ever since. Being something of an homage to the early 90s, it is fitting that the production is dirty, slightly muddy, and more lo-fi than others benefit from today. The result is an organic sound, and an authentic listening experience, where everything comes together in an unholy manner, but in a good way. There’s groove, there’s brutality, there’s pace, there’s aural violence, and it sounds great. The guitar sound is disgusting, so filthy that it makes me smile throughout.
However, to their credit, ‘Prophecies Of The Conjoined’ isn’t a wholly one-dimensional 30-minute assault and battery. Within the ten tracks, the pace is varied, atmosphere is created, and we get treated to some cracking lead guitar solos, as well as plenty of catchy groove too. What more do you want from your death metal?
How about a concept? Well, your wish is granted as this album explores a theory that aliens visited Earth and helped to teach the Egyptian and Mayan cultures by furthering their technology, coming to light following the events at Roswell. To be honest, Tim King could be telling tales of his childhood, of the Easter Bunny, or how to boil the perfect egg because his low guttural delivery is utterly indecipherable. He sounds in pain and torment for most of the album, not that I’m complaining because it is over-the-top in a brilliant way.
Nevertheless, when I mentioned that the music contains a certain amount of atmosphere, it does come across as a little other-worldly, and there’s definitely a sci-fi edge to it. I’m probably over-emphasising it, but once you know about the concept, you can hear it conveyed in the intro to the opening track, ‘Regurgitated and Reprocessed’, as well as within the ensuing dark, cold riffing of a song that’s on the attack from the beginning. Lightning-fast but precise blastbeats, a swirling solo from Terence Hobbs, and a cloying atmosphere really kick the album off in commanding style, capturing my attention from the start.
Even the song titles are mimicking the 90s, rivalling the likes of Cannibal Corpse for the most preposterous and graphic names. ‘Cannibalised By Octuplets’ has to be one of the daftest of the lot, although ‘Cauterized Womb Impalement’ pushes it close. The latter continues the dark themes with an unsettling intro, bestial growls, and thunderous rhythms that are brutal but groovy as all hell at the same time. If you’re not banging your head furiously by the end, then there’s no helping you.
To prove the ‘varied’ claim I made earlier, I present to you the title track or ‘Upon The Mayan Throne’. The former is one of the stand-out tracks for me thanks to a pronounced use of quieter but darker and sinister-sounding passages to break up the full-on assault, further emphasising the lyrical concept around which the record is based. The latter abandons Embryonic Autopsy’s Plan A of intense pace, in favour of Plan B, a slower mid-tempo that allows the listener to be pummelled by the sheer weight of the guitar riffs and the sinister atmospheres that are given the room and space to breathe. It’s a crushing behemoth of a track that emphasises the ability of the band to be extreme in more than one way, as well as their desire to do so.
It may only last for half an hour or so, but the impression that ‘Prophecies Of The Conjoined’ makes on me is much greater than its paltry run-time. It makes me wish that I had been older when this kind of music was being created first time around. Had that been the case, then I suspect that I’d have far more straight-up brutal death metal in my collection than I do now. This is incredibly heavy and uncompromising music, but it is infectious, addictive, and hugely enjoyable. I’ll admit that the vocals do make me giggle at times because they are so preposterous, and this might be one of the ingredients that puts some listeners off. But I’m not deterred and instead I embrace them as much as possible. And if you’re a fan of old-school death metal, I’m sure you will too, so check out Embryonic Autopsy at your earliest opportunity.
The Score of Much Metal: 89%
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