Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Autopsy - Live in Chicago (2020)

Live in Chicago isn't Autopsy's first rodeo with a live release, there were a couple put out through the underground imprint Necroharmonic Productions 20+ years ago. Neither of those were really very good, and the others were video tapes, all of which are probably quite hard to find. What I'm getting at, is that we'd never really gotten the 'de facto' official live album from the Californians, and with its great Wes Benscoter cover artwork, an extensive 18 track set, recorded at Reggie's the same year this came, and dropped just before Halloween...this has all the tools and backing to make that happen. Spoiler alert: while the tunes can often come across a little smoother on this recording than the studio albums, I'd say that this accomplishes exactly that feat, and smack dab in the midst of their resurgence which had already been going for a decade.

The vocals and leads do translate quite well here, with Chris' barks and grunts the most gruesome element of the entire performance, as they should be, resonating out over the audience like some gore-preacher tending to his cannibalistic flock. The solos are loud and over the top and definitely add that dimension of the alien and unhinged that we've always felt from their very carnal brand of death metal. Otherwise, the bass and drums sound pretty tight, as do the rhythm guitars, which have a meaty tone themselves, but the latter often sound a little too rounded off and less jagged than they might come across in their uglier, original studio versions. It's no deal breaker, and the whole effort does sound level, but in some ways the band sounds a little less volatile than you might expect. That said, it's a HUGE leap in quality over some of those older live offerings...yeah, they've got more of an underground charm, but this is actually one you could crank on your car or home stereo system and properly feel like you're in a real live environment that wasn't recorded on something like an old tape deck.

The track selection is heavily dominated by tunes from the first two albums, the classics, as you'd predict, so you've got "Severed Survival", "Charred Remains", "Gasping for Air", "Critical Madness", "Twisted Mass of Burnt Decay", "In the Grip of Winter" represented along with several more. There's a cover of "Fuck You!!" closing out the album, from Danny Coralles old band, Cali thrash obscurity Bloodbath, which was kind of fun for its crossover/punk infusion and fun lead explosion. Beyond that, there aren't many choices, so if you were hoping for an infusion of stuff off the last batch of decent albums you'd have been out of luck. "Voices" from Acts of the Unspeakable (also an oldie), "Arch Cadaver" from The Headless Ritual, "Burial" from Tourniquets, Hacksaws and Graves, and then one new song which would appear on the next studio album to follow this, "Maggots in the Mirror". As much as those first two are still probably my favorites, I wouldn't have minded some more picks from The Tomb Within or Macabre Eternal just for a better balance, but I'm sure the crowd was stoked for all the throwback material and it made perfect sense to keep the set list so thick with it.

All told, Live in Chicago is a solid live effort that I'd easily choose over its predecessors if I'm in the mood, but perhaps one day down the road, in the twilight of their career they'll treat us with some epic 2-3 disc spread that better compiles their whole history on the stage. Until then, I'll enjoy this one.

Verdict: Win [7.25/10]

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