As long-term Autopsy addicts will already know, there are as many re-releases, DVDs and compilations of death metal’s finest filthmongers as there are actual albums these days, so if you’re going to be asked to part with £30 for yet another retrospective, it’s going to have to be something pretty special.
On its own terms, After The Cutting is just that, and one of the finest examples of how to honour a quintessential act. Housed within its striking, 10-inch hardback exterior, complete with sublimely gruesome Kev Walker artwork – who’s come a long way from the first censored (and by today’s standards, not so shocking anymore) cover for Autopsy’s debut album, Severed Survival – are four CDs totalling 82 tracks, and a full-size 92-page booklet by renowned artist Dennis Dread detailing the history of the band. If Dennis is sometimes too close to his subject, the huge number of flyers, pictures and exclusive drawings makes it, by far, the most complete recollection of their story. Even the most informed follower will learn a thing or two and for hardcore Autopsy addicts, it’s possibly the biggest draw of the whole package.
Musically, After The Cutting seems to hedge its bets on what level of Autopsy-awareness it’s aiming for. The first disc includes the whole Skull Grinder EP, released last year, as well as the first two demos, which, even if they’re still some of the best debuts ever recorded, have been reissued several times before already. Completists might appreciate the six rehearsal tracks and the Black Incantations track recorded by side-project Grave Violators, but even if this is the first volume to include tracks from their last album to date, 2014’s Tourniquets, Hacksaws And Graves, hardcore fans won’t have much need of two more ‘Best Of’ discs.
The 13 live tracks taken from two gigs in Oakland in 2012 and 2013 are of bootleg quality, but the recently unearthed collection of instrumental rehearsal tracks from 1991 and 1992 are more interesting, as they focus on lesser-known material from the Fiend For Blood EP and the Acts Of The Unspeakable album, but for old and new fans alike, there’s more than enough here to get your teeth into.