Autopsy - Severed Survival
It might have been sixteen years since Autopsy hit the death metal scene with their debut Severed Survival
, but the afformentioned album is a staple of the genre and has influenced many bands, and will undoubtly influence many more. When this album was released the genre was but young, and needed some strong albums to define it and set a standard for the inevitable barrage of imitators inclusive with the birth of any genre. In my opinion, this album does just that.
From the very beginning the formula to follow is apparent. Mushy production slightly hindering the album, but not taking away the quality of the guitar riffs or Reifert's drumming. The vocals courtesy of Reifert aswell are intresting; he has more than a hint of insanity in his voice, but he is still comprehendable to a certain degree. His voice and delivery compliments the music and chosen lyrical themes well.
One of the most important part of any death metal release is a constant assault of great riff followed by great riff - and this album is no exception. The riffs can range from the agressive ones played to the blast-beats of Reifert, or the heavy chord hits. The guitar sound is a little to warm and undefinable for my liking, occasionally is is even obliterated by the bass. The solo work is good; succint solos that hit the music well without seeming indulgent and pointless. The bass guitar is pretty high in the mix here, which is a good thing as there are some nice lines. The prominence of the bass in the mix is quite an important factor in the intresting overall sound produced on this album. The drumwork is great, but it's Chris Reifert, what else did you expect? He knows how to blast-beat, but he also knows that a little variation in the drums can make a world of difference, and he uses his drums well to compliment the accents of the guitar/bass combination.
There's quite a few songs on the album that, whilst being good songs, don't really stick out that much. However, the third track 'Disembowel', with the mid-tempo riffage and churning vocals that is oddly catchy but also hypnotic in a sense. There are some intresting bass lines in this song that detracts from the hypnosis of the ever-plodding riff. Of course, there is more to the song than this, there's that great tremelo-picked riff, or the crushing chord progression following it. The solo is a typical death metal solo, more focused on keeping up with the tempo than with providing many intresting musical ideas.
The sixth track, 'Pagan Saviour', starts with more mid-tempo riff work but the vocals of Reifert quickly stop the song from becoming boring. There's some great bass lines in this song aswell, ocasionally taking on a guitar-like role in parts of the song. The main reason I mentioned this song is that
riff though, yes one of the ones where every the drums hit on the first beat of the bar and the guitar line reaches deep in your soul, aided and abetted of course by the tortured vocals of Reifert. So how do you follow up such a great riff? A crazy fast solo then some blast-beats of course! This is the formula for rest of the song until the abrupt ending.
Directly following the previous monster is another leviathan, 'Impending Dread'. Kicking in with a slow, apocalyptic riff and some epic drumming before sueging into a mid-tempo riff and the crazed vocals of Reifert. The chord hits and tom-work are back after this, giving a more doom metal feel, then again is the abrupt change to the up-tempo death metal with blast-beats and fills aplenty. The transitions between the differing styles in this song are excellent and represent both sides of Autopsy well.
The ninth track, 'Critical Madness', begins with another slow, epic riff and erupts into up-tempo death metal. The vocals come in and give the different sides to Reifert's voice. Following this is a nice touch where the guitars hold out their chords whilst everything else (including the vocals) stays at the usualy up-tempo stuff, all to great effect. The most memorable part of the song though comes later when Reifert screams "Okay, I'll do it! Aghh!". Following this is more great riffs, and a fast solo. The usual stuff in other words.
The only drawback of this album is the lack of diversity, the songs are great, but alot of them are forgettable. There's still plenty of great riffs to keep you going here, and the music and vocals are both of high quality. I'd recommend this album to fans of old school death, and I'd recommend listening to 'Pagan Saviour', 'Critical Madness' or 'Embalmed' if you need more persuasion.