It hasn’t gotten old yet! It gets a little more challenging, trying to think of ideas that haven't been used yet either by ourselves or other people but that's a good brain exercise.
Autopsy have just released their brilliant new album Morbidity Triumphant, the band’s first in eight years and it sees the death metal legends on typically brutal form, laying waste to anything in their path in a bloodthirsty fashion on a collection of horrifically enjoyable songs. Gavin Brown caught up with Autopsy vocalist/drummer Chris Reifert to talk about Morbidity Triumphant, the history of Autopsy, death metal and the host of others bands he has been in like Death, Abscess and Siege Of Power in a conversation with a true death metal legend.
E&D: Your new album, Morbidity Triumphant is out now. Was making the album a smooth process?
Chris: I mean, it was because we got it done but it was a little crazy just because of our arrangement of activities basically. We definitely had a sense of urgency for that one, because we played a show in January, which was our first show in almost two years ago, because of condemning purposes. We had to jump back into action and get ready for that show really fast, and then we had studio time booked for roughly two months after the show, so we had to quickly shove all the old songs out of our minds and get back into the groove of doing new stuff, which we did. We had basically two months to finish writing the album and rehearse it and get ready, so it was kind of a whirlwind but we play on the pressure. That was the good news and everything worked out. We rehearsed a lot, so by time we got into the studio, we knew exactly what we were doing, so it was fluid in that way. The other part of it was we had a show booked in Portugal for two weeks after we finished mastering so we had to hurry up and shove all that new stuff out of our head, and go back into the set, so the arrangement was super insane but by the time we got into the studio, we were well rehearsed.
E&D: It’s been eight years since the last studio album by Autopsy, do you feel excited to be back with this new album?
Chris: Oh, yeah, of course. You have to subtract two years because of pandemic reason but that’s still a six year lapse although we have kept busy. We did a live album and played a bunch of shows in a bunch of places throughout the world. It wasn’t like we were sitting around waiting for something to happen. We’ve been working really hard ever since we got back together, but yeah, it was nice to actually be able to make a proper full length again, it was definitely felt like okay, here we go again.
E&D: Wes Benscoter did the brilliant cover artwork for Morbidity Triumphant. Was it good working with him again and were you pleased with what he delivered?
Chris: Oh god, yeah. Wes is great. Every time he does something for us, we always tell ourselves oh, this is his best one yet. This new one is no exception. I think it’s the best one we’ve done so far. We’ve been getting a lot of really cool feedback about it. I mean, it’s pretty stunning. We feel really, really lucky and privileged to have gotten him to do it for us.
E&D: ‘Skin By Skin’ was the first track released from the new album. Can you tell us a bit about that song and how it’s gone down?
Chris: That’s a pretty crazy song. That’s basically that’s what Eric wrote. He’s got this knack for coming up with really weird guitar layers and harmonies and things like that, really disturbing sounding. Lyrically, it’s about someone who takes people in, that that seem vulnerable and take care of you and make your life better and next thing you know, all the walls and ceiling and floors are comprised of human skin sewn together. Big mistake going in that place, the person that gets taken in becomes an addition to the collection. That’s the one Peaceville asked about doing a lyric video for, and it’s gone over pretty well.
E&D: Was the cover artwork with the dead skin mask cloak inspired by the song?
Chris: Maybe a little bit. That was one of the titles and lyrics, I came to Wes for inspiration and took a little bit of inspiration, but not too much. Pretty much 99% of what you see is all just his crazy imagination of his work.
E&D: How much fun is it still to be writing and creating such horrific and bloodsoaked songs?
Chris: It hasn’t gotten old yet! It gets a little more challenging, trying to think of ideas that haven’t been used yet either by ourselves or other people but that’s a good brain exercise. Trying to keep the creativity unique. I still like doing it, I don’t know why, but it’s still fun and we still get a kick out of doing it. I mean, we don’t ever force ourselves to do something that we don’t feel like doing, so none of these things are ever laborious. You see that we’re making a record or playing a show somewhere because we want to do it, so that’s great. It keeps us moving.
E&D: You just played the UK Deathfest. How did that show go for you?
Chris: Oh, it was amazing. It was a great show. It was scheduled for two years ago and it’s been 10 years since we were in the UK, so it’s been a long time coming but it was great. The venue was super cool and the crowd was amazing. Very lively, everyone was going crazy out there. We saw a lot of old friends that we hadn’t seen for a long time and met some cool people we’ve never met before, and actually took two extra days to be tourists, which was nice. We got to go to Highgate Cemetery and we went to Abbey Road Studios and just some cool restaurants and stuff like that, that’s something we never, ever do. Anytime we travel to anywhere, we basically see the airport and the hotel and the venue, so it was nice to just have some time to walk around and see some stuff and eat some good food and things like that but the show itself was fantastic.
E&D: Did you play any new material or was it all old stuff that you played?
Chris: We played ‘Maggots In The Mirror’, which is on the new album and also on a live album that we put out a couple of years ago. Aside from that, we didn’t have any time to prepare anything else off the new album. We’ve just been just trying to catch our breath constantly this year, so all we had time for it really was to play the same set that we started playing in January, from then it’s been show show show. That means rehearse, rehearse, rehearse, but not learn, learn learn. We just basically are trying to keep up with ourselves, but we do have one more show this year in Chicago and after that we actually have a little time to rethink the set. I’m sure we’ll add in some stuff off the new album, by then the new album will have been out for months and we’re gonna play some stuff off it to make sure we do that, but yeah, pretty much we’ve been doing the same set just because it’s what we know.
E&D: Have you got plans for live shows going into next year at all?
Chris: Not a whole lot so far. We’re playing this festival in July, and we actually just confirmed another show in Seattle at the end of May. That hasn’t been announced yet, but we just confirmed it and that’s all we got so far. I’m sure some of these things will fall into place as we go but that’s that’s what we have at the moment.
E&D: What Autopsy gigs have stood out in your memory over the years?
Chris: I mean, all of them really, they all have their own unique aspects, The cool thing is, we haven’t had a bad gig since we got back together, everything’s been good. We have killer crowds which is nice. In the old days, the band played for, like, 10 people when we got started. Now we can play for 10,000 so that’s a lot better. The Maryland Deathfest show we did earlier this year was memorable and it had nothing to do with us. It had to do with what was happening when we were playing but that’s another story for those who don’t know about that, but otherwise, everything’s just been really good. It’s been a little bit of a blur, because of all the crazy travelling and stuff like that, but yeah, I don’t know. I guess we’re lucky to not have a bad show.
E&D: What’s your favourite Autopsy song to play live?
Chris: I don’t really have a favourite. They’re all fun to play live in their own way. I’m too involved to pick out a song, you know, so they’re all pretty cool to play.
E&D: How do you feel about the state of death metal in 2022?
Chris: It’s alive and well, that’s for sure. It’s crazy now because it’s, dare I say, kind of, popular so that’s good in terms of us getting good shows and things like that. Everyone knows what it is now, which is interesting. A lot of people who have never even heard of death metal you ask almost anyone if they’ve heard of it, whether you like it or not, and chances are they’ll say, Yeah, I’ve heard of that, so there’s that. Of course, you have the internet now, so you can look up anything you want, which is pretty cool. What I think is cool is it’s a style that has withstood the test of time. Generally, that’s been passed down to a whole new generation of people, which is really cool. We discovered that when we played our big comeback show in Maryland, twelve years ago, we didn’t know if anyone was going to care about us or be into it or anything but there’s all the people our age and to our surprise, there’s 17 year old kids that knew all the lyrics, and things like that. That was kind of an eyeopener, not only is it still around as a theme, but it’s being passed on to. There’s tons of good newer bands out there and there’s plenty going on.
E&D: What have been some of your favourite memories from being in Autopsy over the terms so far?
Chris: So many! You’d have to get more specific! I mean, probably the coolest thing was was making our first album Severed Survival because that was our first, you know. That wasn’t like a band that one of us had joined, we started it and we got to make a record that we created on our own, we got to go into the studio and make a record. That was a big one. The Maryland show that I mentioned, that was 12 years ago, that was another big one because we didn’t know if anyone was gonna care about us, or if we’re gonna be like some a nostalgia act people politely tolerated or something like that, but we went up and did our line check and everyone freaked out, and that was just our line check! That was a good feeling, like, oh, this is gonna be cool. There’s so many, we’re talking 35 years of memories so it’s hard to single things out. Even when we were split up for 15 years and we all did different things, we still had to deal with Autopsy because it was reissues and things like that we have to keep tabs on. It’s like having kids, making these records, they don’t just go away, you have to take good care of them.
E&D: Going even further back for yourself, do you have fond memories of your time with Death and making the Scream Bloody Gore album?
Chris: I do. That was the first album I ever got to play on, so that was huge, going into the professional studio. I’d never seen anything like that before. I had done recordings before, but just small studios, doing demos with old bands and stuff like that. It was pretty mind blowing for a 17 year old delinquent! It was extra crazy, the record label sent Chuck and I to Los Angeles as teenagers unattended, we took flights to go record this thing with no one to look after us, just like that. Here, go go to LA and make a record! Looking back, it was pretty fucking nuts. We’re minors and getting up to all sorts of things that minors probably shouldn’t be doing.
E&D: Do you have good memories of Abscess too and have you ever thought about doing anything again with that band?
Chris: No, I don’t think we could do it again. That was just 15 years of madness! It started off as a release from Autopsy, which got really stressful towards the end of the first run. We just needed to be crazy people and we did that. I don’t think we would survive, and I don’t want to find out! We definitely punished our our brains and our bodies, but we’re good and I wouldn’t change anything. It was fantastic. It was just fucking lunacy but even if we wanted to do it again, we have no idea where Clint ended up, I’ve been out of touch with him for probably 13 years or so. We couldn’t do it without him because he was vital to the band. So many crazy things happened with that band. A very long list of crazy things! Just for the first two years of the band, we got kicked out of every club we ever played. We can never go back to the same place twice, Breaking house mics and just all sorts of crazy things. It was great!
E&D: Will there be more music in the future from Siege Of Power?
Chris: Yeah, actually, it’s already been recorded and the whole thing is being layer out, we’re just waiting on a release date, so yeah we already did one.
E&D: Will the band be doing any live dates to support the new album?
Chris: I don’t know that we can do that. The rest of those guys live overseas and I’m over here, logistically, that would be pretty tough on those guys and I know they’re really busy too, they all have their own bands and stuff going on and with Autopsy, there’s been no time for really much of anything else. I was able to blast out the vocals for the Siege Of Power album, that’s not too hard because all I have to do is write lyrics which I can do, morning, noon or night, whenever I have a little spare time and just book a couple hours in the studio to do vocals. It’s not like a big time commitment where I needed much rehearsal time, there was no rehearsal for that, just getting into the studio and doing it. Live shows are unlikely but stranger things have happened in life, so I can’t say never but at this point, there’s no plans for that.
E&D: How does it feel looking back to playing on so many truly classic metal albums and still bringing out such great music after all this time?
Chris: I mean, I don’t have any other skills. I suck at everything else, so that’s why I keep doing this. You know, I tell people, I don’t care about sports, I don’t care about cars. I’m not a tech person but music is something I love to do. Whether it’s playing or recording or whatever, I still get a kick out of it. Otherwise, I wouldn’t do iI’m not ready for silence, so it’s great. I don’t look back very much because there’s always something new on the horizon, which is how I like it. I don’t really ever sit around and listen to old records that I’ve done unless we need to relearn something for a show that’s on the list. I love to do it and there’s plenty more gas in the tank, so that’s good news. For me anyways, hopefully other people want to hear this stuff too!