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4.02 | 12 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 1989

Filed under Death Metal


1. Charred Remains (3:40)
2. Service for a Vacant Coffin (2:50)
3. Disembowel (4:04)
4. Gasping for Air (3:19)
5. Ridden With Disease (4:52)
6. Pagan Saviour (4:10)
7. Impending Dread (4:46)
8. Severed Survival (3:28)
9. Critical Madness (4:32)
10. Embalmed (3:02)
11. Stillborn (2:49)
12. Funereality (2:53)
13. Destined to Fester (4:31)
14. In the Grip of Winter (4:06)

Total Time: 53:08

Bonus disc for the 2CD 2009 reissue:

1. Horrific Obsession (4:30)
2. Feast of the Graveworm (3:28)
3. Mauled to Death (rehearsal '88) (4:25)
4. Human Genocide (rehearsal '88) (3:20)
5. Christ Denied (rehearsal '87) (3:24)
6. Charred Remains (rehearsal '88) (3:36)
7. Service for a Vacant Coffin (live '90) (3:04)
8. Disembowel (live '90) (4:32)
9. Gasping for Air (live '90) (3:19)
10. Ridden With Disease (rehearsal '88) (4:29)
11. Pagan Saviour (live '90) (4:16)
12. Severed Survival (live '90) (3:31)
13. Critical Madness (rehearsal '88) (4:23)
14. Embalmed (rehearsal '87) (2:52)
15. Stillborn (rehearsal '88) (3:02)

Total Time: 56:17


- Chris Reifert / vocals, drums
- Eric Cutler / guitar
- Danny Coralles / guitar
- Steve DiGiorgio / bass

About this release

Full-length, Peaceville Records, April 24th, 1989

Original CD bonus track:
11. Stillborn (2:47)

Reissued in 1993 with "Retribution for the Dead" as bonus tracks:
12. Retribution for the Dead (3:54)
13. Destined to Fester (4:31)
14. In the Grip of Winter (4:06)

Reissued in digipack format in 2003 with three bonus tracks:
12. Funereality (From "Vol 4" Comp.) (2:53)
13. Destined to Fester (From "Retribution For The Dead" Ep)(4:31)
14. In the Grip of Winter (From "Retribution For The Dead" Ep)(4:06)

Reissued as 2-cd release on February 23, 2009 by Peaceville. Disc 1 is the same as the 2003 reissue, while disc 2 (below) has two new tracks (recorded in ’08 - available separately as the « Horrific Obsession » single) and twelve rare versions of old songs:

Thanks to UMUR for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

siLLy puPPy
Long considered one of the pioneers of death metal, the Bay Area based AUTOPSY was started by drummer Chris Reifert after leaving Chuck Schuldiner’s Death in Florida and relocated back to his home turf. Reifert was good friends with another Bay Area band Sadus and it was Steve Di Giorgio who introduced him to guitarist Eric Cutler who shared a similar passion for extremely heavy music, gory horror flicks and together they quickly set out to record some demos. The first appeared in 1987 and a second titled “Critical Madness” in 1988. The band recruited another guitarist Danny Caralles and the band chose the name AUTOPSY after reading an obituary and liked the ring of it. At this point there was no permeant bassist by Di Giorgio from Sadus lent his talents and the four recorded this debut album SEVERED SURVIVAL which was released in April 1989.

While the Bay Area’s Possessed bridged the gap between the early thrash metal years into what would become called death metal, Reifert will go down in history for participating what many including myself consider to be the first true fully functioning death metal album, namely “Scream Bloody Gore” by Death. While still clearly rooted in thrash, Chuck Schuldiner ratcheted things up a few notches by focusing on more gory lyrics, even more extreme technical styles and heavier emphasis on percussive drive. Reifert’s new baby AUTOPSY was signed to Peaceville Records and joined the growing death metal scene with not only Reifert’s former band Death but a new legion of deathly noise makers like Morbid Angel, Bolt Thrower, Obituary and Necrophagia.

SEVERED SURVIVAL very much continues the early death metal sound of “Scream Bloody Gore” with doom metal influences that keep the tempos tamped down and a deep bass driven groove. Despite the leaps and bounds of the death metal sound by the likes of Morbid Angel who evolved the subgenre into a formidable energetic spastic flow of caustic riffs, atonal brutality and blastbeat drumming with more insanely regurgitated vocals, AUTOPSY’s first release very much sticks to the early Death playbook and keeps things humming along fairly safe with an overall feel that this is still just a couple baby steps past the subgenere’s thrash metal roots, however with the growly guttural vocals and outburst of energy that set the death metal riffs on fire, the album certainly comes off as a death metal reality than what thrash bands like Sadus or Forbidden were releasing.

It seems that AUTOPSY’s debut has become a classic due to its influential mix of doom and death metal and how it’s all wrapped up together along with the extremely gory subject matter and has been c item by bands such as Cannibal Corpse, Entombed and Dismember as an album that they built their sounds off of, however i personally find the album to be a couple years stuck in the past as the musical drives seems a little too primitive for my liking and then i find the album to be a tad monotonous as the tracks tend to all start sounding the same without any substantial variation other than doomy mid-tempo riffs alternating with more punk rock sounding heavier passages and the occasional bombast of what contemporaries like Obituary and Morbid Angel were dishing out. Yeah, it’s influential and it does symbolize the early old school death metal era but for my tastes i find that the earlier “Scream Bloody Gore” satisfies those cravings.

SEVERED SURVIVAL has been re-released many times since its 1989 debut. The original vinyl and CD editions donned rather amateurish cover art with pink dude getting chopped up and in 1990 the album came out with bonus tracks and the much better cover of the perspective of looking up at a crew of zombie emergency room doctors performing who knows what kind of unthinkable experiments on the poor soul strapped on the table out of the picture. My personal copy is the 2009 - 20th Anniversary Edition which contains a whole extra bonus disc of rare demos as well as rehearsals. All good extra features but nothing i would consider essential by any means. The interviews in the liner notes are cool though. I can’t imagine any death metal collection not including AUTOPSY’s debut album SEVERED SURVIVAL but when it comes down to it, i find this the least interesting album of the bigwigs of 1989 when the subgenre was really kicking off.
"Severed Survival" is the debut full-length studio album by US death metal act Autopsy. The album was released through Peaceville Records in April 1989. "Severed Survival" has since seen various reissues. The one from 1993 included the "Retribution for the Dead (1991)" EP tracks as bonus material.

Drummer/lead vocalist Chris Reifert formed Autopsy in 1987 after leaving Death. Chris Reifert played the drums on the now legendary "Scream Bloody Gore (1987)" debut album by Death. In addition to Chris Reifert on drums and vocals, and Eric Cutler and Danny Coralles on guitars, the album also features bass by the omnipresent Steve DiGiorgio (Sadus, Death, Iced Earth, Testament...etc.).

The music on the album is pretty much the epitome of old school death metal. If you´re looking for the most authentic old school death metal release, look no further. The vocals are brutal yet intelligible and delightfully aggressive. The tempo is mosty mid- to slow paced with the occasional faster part thrown in. But there is no blasting on the album. The riffing is brutal and heavy but generally pretty simple. It´s safe to say that this is not the most precise playing that I´ve ever heard, but there´s a primitive charm to the proceedings that you won´t find on most modern and more clinical sounding death metal albums. "Severed Survival" is raw and filthy sounding. A suiting sound production for this kind of music. Song titles like "Service for a Vacant Coffin", "Disembowel" and "Ridden With Disease" pretty much give away the horror/gore lyrical themes of the album.

While Autopsy would further develop and refine their sound on subsequent albums, "Severed Survival" is a great album in it´s own right. Maybe a bit too one-dimensional in the end and the quality of the tracks also drop a notch toward the end of the album, but overall it´s still a great release. Personally I think this is one of the best pre-nineties old school death metal releases out there and a 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

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