Wednesday, 18 April 2012

AUTOPSY - Severed Survival (1989)

   
01  Charred Remains
02  Service For A Vacant Coffin
03  Disembowel
04  Gasping For Air
05  Ridden With Disease
06  Pagan Saviour
07  Impending Dread
08  Severed Survival
09  Critical Madness
10  Embalmed
11  Stillborn

'Severed Survival' is the debut album by Autopsy released on April 24th 1989 by Peaceville Records. The band was formed in August 1987 by Chris Reifert and Eric Cutler, shortly after Reifert's departure from Death. The band recorded a demo that year, before Danny Coralles joined in 1988 immediately prior to the recording of their second demo, 'Critical Madness' and along with Reifert and Cutler, would be a constant in the band's lineup.

The production on this release has a very primitive sound quality, which adds a somewhat filthy element compared to later 90's death metal recordings. However, all of the instruments here are heard equally in the mix, including the often excluded bass guitar. Severed Survival has a analog production as well, giving it that 80's metal charm. The production is the big negative here, but the album doesn't sound dated with the listener not being distracted from the level of musicianship and quality of material.

Chris Reifert doesn't appear to play a single blast-beat on this album, though his rhythmic structures constantly shift to perfectly complement the riffs and are always appropriate to the musical needs of the song. He also handles the vocal duties as he would continue to do so on all subsequent Autopsy releases. Conveyed as they are in an inhuman vomited bark, this was one of the first death metal albums ever where a lyric sheet was an absolutely essential component, because you're not going to be deciphering anything much from listening. Autopsy seriously set the standard of gore and sickness here, covering all sorts of grisly topics; necrophilia and corpse desecration ("Service For A Vacant Coffin"), violent death ("Disembowel", "Severed Survival"), plagues and sickness ("Ridden With Disease") and of course, insanity leading to violent death and corpse desecration with some necrophilia thrown in (mostly everything else). The stand-out track for me personally is "Charred Remains", it's a great opener with solid guitar work and sums up what this album and this band is all about within the space of four minutes. 'Severed Survival' took me a few listens to truly appreciate but is probably my favourite Autopsy release, and I wouldn't hesitate to rate it above their highly praised follow-up 'Mental Funeral'.

To coincide with the album's 20th anniversary, Peaceville Records released a special two-disc edition of Severed Survival on February 23, 2009.[1] It includes rare rehearsal and live material for a bonus disc as well as demo versions of two songs — "Mauled to Death" and "Human Genocide" — which did not make the final cut on the original album. Also featured in the package is a booklet with notes by the band themselves, detailing the history of Autopsy's early years, with rare photos and images. The reissue also includes two new Autopsy tracks that were recorded in September 2008, and are included on the reissue's second disc.

*The cover art above is the "censored" version from 1990.

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