Band: Foul Body Autopsy
Album: The Unquiet Dead
Label: Grindscene Records
Genre: Death/Thrash Metal
Country: United Kingdom
Release Date: March 6th, 2019
Do you like zombies? Do you like George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead? Do you like the idea of owning a riff machine capable of mowing down zombies with sonic force faster than a chainsaw ever could? Well, then Foul Body Autopsy’s The Unquiet Dead is the EP for you!
Named after the Necrophagist song of the same name, I put on this record expecting some form of technical death metal. Hoping against hope that this wouldn’t be another mediocre Spawn of Possession clone, my expectations were dashed against the wall from the very first note of the album. Foul Body Autopsy is the solo project of the UK’s Tom Reynolds, and The Unquiet Dead features three no-nonsense assaults of death-thrash for your ear canals. This is straight up 10 minutes of melodic death metal going for the guttural– there’s no angular riffs or technical wankery to be found on this EP, only tasty riff upon riff.
So much as I could piece together from the lyrics and track names, The Unquiet Dead is an EP about a post-apocalyptic world in which someone is searching for a sanctuary from their new zombie overlords. While I consider zombies to be an overhyped aspect of horror, considering the EP’s short stay and my love for Romero’s Night of the Living Dead it’s hard for me to consider the theme entirely problematic. Luckily Reynolds’ fairly typical vocal performance is aided by his use of layering different vocal tracks over one another, which adds to the dystopian atmosphere and lends some depth to the EP.
But make no mistake- the main attraction on display in the 10-minutes of The Unquiet Dead’s stay is Reynolds’ melodic guitar work. In the vein of Colony-era In Flames and to a degree Vittra-era Naglfar, Reynolds doesn’t care so much for brutality as he does for atmosphere. Honestly, this is one of the least “brutal” death metal album I’ve heard in quite some time. Instead, each riff is precision-made to be stuck in your ears at one point or another. Of special note is the atmospheric break in the middle of the Impending Darkness. It’s one of the best moments of tension and releases on the record and the melody during that break is quite reminiscent of modern black metal, which is always nice to hear. Then, of course, I have to mention the lead work on Seeking Sanctuary. By far the most atmospheric cut off the EP, this is the only track with a semblance of a solo and it’s quite brilliant. Reynolds really knows how to bring some emotion out of his death metal guitar riffage and he gives that the proper time to shine on this track. The melodic nature of this EP is a welcome change of pace from so-called “brutal” toilet-bowl production death metal.
Now, I understand that this is just a 10-minute EP and Reynolds is running a solo project, which is undoubtedly impressive, but there are some weak points that I’d be remiss not to point out. Straight up, the production job on The Unquiet Dead is one of the flattest I’ve heard in a long time. All of the focus seems to be on the mid and occasional high ranges, but there’s very little low-end oomph giving this record any real “power.” Even the vocals, while gravely, are firmly in the mid-range. There is one moment in Searching for Sanctuary that the bass finally makes an audible appearance, but after having listened to this EP on four different mediums, I’ve yet to be convinced that there is much other than a solid mid-range for the majority of this record. On top of that, the drums are clearly programmed and although the snare sound is decently punchy, the kit itself sounds quite sterile. Overall there are very few moments of dynamics on this record and that’s a real detriment to its longevity.
And that brings me to my biggest gripe with this release. Perhaps I don’t like melodic death metal as much as I used to, but to my ears, The Unquiet Dead frankly does not contain much depth, either conceptually or musically. Granted, its a 10-minute death metal EP about zombies taking over the world, but still, I would have appreciated a darker tone for this record. Instead of getting a death metal album with melodic elements, at times The Unquiet Dead really sounds more like a power metal album with death metal elements. There are indeed several moments on the EP that contain an emotional appeal, as heard in Impending Darkness and Sanctuary, but after ten or so listens, I find myself unable to find anything else that’s interesting about this EP.
At the end of the day, liking or disliking The Unquiet Dead is really contingent on how much you like purely melodic/atmospheric death-thrash. If you’re okay with fun sugar-coated riffs and very straightforward delivery, there’s not much to complain about for these fairly enjoyable 10 minutes. But if you like to dissect your music and really listen closely for the nuances of human performance, it may be best to listen to this once in a blue moon for sheer fun but to avoid it like the plague for your regular listening schedule. Despite my problems with this EP, I did quite enjoy it on the first couple of listens and I appreciate the talent that Reynolds displayed within these 10 minutes. He is a fantastic guitarist and I really hope he gets picked up by a bigger death metal band where he gets to shine at what he does best someday. Hopefully, his full albums contain more intriguing music. Until then, your mileage may vary on your journey with The Unquiet Dead.
- Consumed by Decay
- Impending Darkness
- Searching for Sanctuary
Total Playing Time: 9:51