Japanese metal bands may still not get quite as much exposure internationally compared to other countries, but if you’ve spent long enough in the underground you’ve most likely spent some time listening to Coffins and Anatomia. Both have become known for lengthy discographies primarily made up of split releases with a handful of full lengths, but each one has forged their own path within death/doom. Since the last time Anatomia put out a full length in 2017, they’ve gone back to their core duo after spending five years as a trio, and have put out some more well-received split (including one with Mausoleum I reviewed earlier in the year). Now for album number four they’ve opted for a bit more experimentation, starting off with the death/doom you’d expect and moving towards more abstract and fluid soundscapes.
Corporeal Torment starts off as you’d expect from this band, letting some eerie instrumentation hover over the recording for the first minute before the duo unleashes a wall of heavy blasting at the listener. Although Anatomia has spent a lot more time exploring super slow tempos on much of the recent material I’ve listened to, there’s something to be said for when they go full blast as they deliver a gritty and downright primal sounding attack. “Dismemberment” has that same low-end tone that sounds like its been soaking in layers of sewage, and the band moves between these faster moments and methodical grooves. Once you get to the second half of “Slimes of Putrescence” things start to shift though, as the death metal gives way to more glacially paced riffs and drum rhythms that are closer to funeral doom but run through death metal’s horrifying and murky tonality. The vocals continue to be a high point on these tracks, coming through with extremely distorted growls and gurgles that Anatomia does better than most in the genre.
The second half of Corporeal Torment is where some listeners might find the material doesn’t click with them, but those who have enjoyed funeral doom, drone, and dark ambient are likely to appreciate what the group is doing here. “Despaired Void” still has a more traditional structure, but its five minutes feel like they stretch outwards for longer than that with slow and methodical instrumentation. This song gives off a bit more of a Skepticism meets death metal vibe, with some ambient horror movie soundtrack thrown in for good measure, and the clean chanting that appears a little way in reinforces that. But it’s the almost twenty-two minute “Mortem” where Anatomia truly stretches outside of their boundaries. Here the riffs are layered and repeated in a more fluid and freeform manner, with the drums being the only instrument that truly drives things forward. It’s a nightmarish soundscape with vocals that appear at random like monsters emerging from a deep pit, and it’s likely to take a couple of times through to fully get a feel for all the details. Admittedly it does seem to run for a bit longer than it needs to and starts to come through as a bit overstretched, but I can appreciate the horrifying and creepy tones that are being manipulated here.
This really is a tale of two halves, as those looking specifically for death/doom may not gel with the funeral doom and droning directions heard later in the album and are better served by the band’s previous three albums. But for those that can appreciate some glacial pacing and more fluid writing are likely to still appreciate the more experimental elements, even if there is still some room for further refinement of these ideas. Personally, I found that 2017’s Cranial Obsession left more of a lasting impact, but there’s still some interesting ideas here that will keep me returning and I can appreciate Anatomia’s desire to do something a little different. Corporeal Torment is available from Me Saco Un Ojo Recordsand Dark Descent Records.
-Review by Chris Dahlberg
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