Released: 2008, HPGD Productions
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Mental Funeral is the one-man project of HPGD Productions (that’s Horror Pain Gore Death, kids) label head Mike Juliano. The 2008 self-titled EP is 5 tracks of straight up Autopsy worship (hence the name), and even includes an Autopsy cover (“Twisted Mass of Burnt Decay”). It’s no secret that I’m warily cautious of the one-man band situation and as such, I approached MENTAL FUNERAL with the same trepidation. After giving the disc multiple listens (it clocks in at just over 20 minutes in length), I can say that MENTAL FUNERAL isn’t a bad collection of songs. It’s not great, but it’s not bad.
“Shadu” opens the disc as a brief demon possessed intro and gives way to “Grindfucker.” Exploring both cannibalism and necrophilia, it sets the tone for the rest of the disc – gore soaked, old school, primitive death metal. No ifs, ands, or buts…it’s very much a “what you see is what you get” release. “The Sorrow of Winter” and “Refried Virgin” feature some cool dirge like riffs interspersed with some of the faster stuff (a la Autopsy), which breaks up the monotony. “Twisted Mass of Burnt Decay” is a karaoke worthy cover from Autopsy’s MENTAL FUNERAL masterpiece. It’s not a bad take on a crusty classic, but it doesn’t offer anything new. There’s also some creepy cinematic sounds hidden at the end of the track, which complement things nicely.
So the songs aren’t going to be confused as revolutionary or groundbreaking, but again – it’s a “what you see is what you get” deal. There’s a huge market for this style of death metal, but that’s the problem, with a lot of other bands putting more effort into their releases to carve a bloody niche for themselves. The production is bare bones (as is the mix), and the drum machine used sounds exactly like a drum machine. It’d be interesting to hear these songs with a beefier mix and with the addition of a full, human rhythm section. The vibe created with "Shadu" and the hidden piece at the end of the disc show that Juliano's got a knack for creating horrific atmospheres; something he should exploit to a greater extent should this EP see a follow up.
As MENTAL FUNERAL stands, it’s a demo quality release at best, but there’s definitely some bite present. This is for the hardest of the hardcore fans - all else should wait to hear how Juliano follows this up.