Torn From the Grave

With 27 tracks spanning six studio releases (along with a few live numbers and a demo gem), Torn from the Grave is the definitive Autopsy collection, and fans of the ye olde school of death metal need look no further for moronic, blood-soaked, brain-bashing fun.

The CD itself is a beautiful digipack, featuring four fold out panels (one in each direction) that display each album’s artwork, press photo, recording info, and selected tracks. Autopsy are considered founders in the ‘gore grind’ category (although Carcass beat them to the coffin with ’88’s Reek…), and judging from the artwork and song titles, these fellas are sick, sick, sick.

It’s clear from the opening tracks, culled from ’89’s Severed Survival that, like most of the burgeoning death movement at the time, Autopsy was hit so hard by Scream Bloody Gore that they set out to release a carbon copy of Death’s first album. You know, trem picking over thrash speed drums that sound like somebody beating on cardboard, that boingy bass sound that goes ‘RawwRawwRaww…’ (ironically supplied by future Death member Steve Digiorgio) sandwiched between two-note chromatic power chord riffs. Whiffs of Germanic thrash ala Sodom and Kreator appear in the form of blazing guitar runs and simplistic mid-tempo breaks (with nary a blastbeat to be found). Autopsy shows incredible will power by refusing to lapse into anything even remotely melodic, with the single exception of a goofy stomp section on the album’s title track. It’s incredible; if any band actually sounded like the ceaseless black expanse of Death itself, it’d have to be Autopsy.

I could swear listening to this CD made me smell something musty. Over the course of their carreer, Autopsy refused to mature – not one freakin’ shred. Sounds changes and song length grew a little shorter, but Autopsy was Autopsy still. Their sound remained frozen in death metal’s formative years, a fond reminder of the first time you heard Onslaught or Possessed. Perhaps that explains why the band became musically obsolete in their later years as the Morrisound Floridian Dynasty took hold. But it doesn’t take a deep, analytical listen to understand why Autopsy is so revered amongst death ‘heads and musicians alike.

┬áThe echo of Glen Benton’s rasp can be heard in Chris Reifert’s occasionally intelligible gasoline gargle. The pummel of later Obituary is summoned through the doomy strains of “Retribution for the Dead” and “Twisted Mass of Burnt Decay.” The fretboard shrieks and restless tempo changes of Malevolent Creation are born amongst the graves while the rotting corpse of Black Sabbath peeks out from behind evil, dirge-y tritone riffs. And the ridiculously over the top lyrical themes sprout with the sickening seeds of Cannibal Corpse.

In many ways, Torn from the Grave is death metal’s missing link, an oafish barbarian threatening the dawn of a new, superior species that will spring from his DNA, and that alone makes this compilation worth several spins. Even the most voracious death jockey may find it may be tough to sit through this 70+ minute tuneless treasure trove, but that sure as hell doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Just remember to keep your tongue (or the tongue of your most recent victim) firmly in cheek.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jay Paiva
April 24th, 2001


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