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This three way split cd of Japanese bands has been out for some time as of this writing . Once again (I've reviewed other releases) anything that Japan's Coffins puts out is a must own in my book and this release is no different . After hearing just the title of this release: Doomed to Death, Damned in Hell I've often wondered how any fan of extreme Japanese music would not want to give this one a listen . Listen I have, multiple times, and I always come back for more . Of the three band's featured here Coffins, Grudge and Anatomia at least you know your getting a solid effort from the already established masterful doom-slingers Coffins . That was my thinking at least but this is more than just one band's effort and needs to be discussed accordingly .
First off is Anatomia formerly known as Transgressor . Now Ive heard Transgressor years and years ago because of a split 7" they were on with Impetigo that I own . They were a decent death metal band that I would listen to on occasion . Nothing was extremely unique about their style that kept me coming back for more on a any sort of a regular basis though, this is just the opposite . Anatomia are extremely heavy and sound like a Japanese Autopsy . I mean it's almost a perfect tribute to Autopsy in every single way . They have that chunky thick guitar sound and just like Autopsy their riffs are nothing short of perfect . The songs have that groovy evil bludgeoning appeal to them . The drummer is obviously a complete Chris Reifart worshipper and who isn't really . Even the vocals are in the vein of Autopsy . These catchy sludgy immediately addictive death metal anthems are a prefect compliment to all that is pure and great about the death metal scene . They don't kill you with speed, they don't murder you with effects, they are just pure straight-forward purveyors of the heaviest of heavy . This is not your normal underground band at all . While they are undoubtedly huge Autopsy fans and obvious worshipers of that band their way of making a song work is completely and uniquely their own . These are with out a doubt true believers in this brand of death metal because with out being completely submerged in the underground scene for years, both as a fan and as a band this would not come close to being this amazing . This stuff is bursting at the seams with a complete sense of conviction and an absolute unwavering dedication to all things indescribably heavy . All the songs are triumphs in their own right but I would have to say Severed Infant Waste is the real hidden gem here . Now all of Anatomia's efforts on this are truly amazing in their own right but this song has a groove and a feel to it that is a true masterpiece on it's own . The groove produced here is in another world . It almost has a snickering evil undertone of unmatched grimness and is complete with an all consuming hook that almost dares the listener not to play it multiple times in a row . Three minutes for this one track is just not enough and if you ever hear it you WILL remember what I'm talking about here . For me it is the undisputed champion from one of the most triumphantly evil sounding bands I have had the pleasure of hearing (and owning) in what seems like a lifetime . They truly possess that recorded in 1990 sound that many of us in the scene regard as the best days of the underground .Anatomia are Japanese death metal deities, worship them !
Now after the description of the Anatomia section of the split any band would most definitely be hard pressed to follow up to them and this holds true for Grudge . This band is very heavy and very sloppy . I personally don't mind when a band has a sloppiness to them as I feel it can undoubtedly add a charm and uniqueness if done correctly . This band can get on your nerves as it is almost industrial sounding at times and is loaded with a hollow sound . Once again I do love rawness but really how much can one take if it's played at the wrong time . You need to be in the mood to hear this band and if your not you will be running to unplug your stereo when this does come on . The guitar has a very raw (not black metal early Darkthrone raw) unappealing sound to it . It sounds shallow and rather abrasive at times also . It lacks that thick doomy bottom heaviness in the faster parts that would be needed to portray this sound correctly . Now I honestly don't know if this is a fair opinion based solely on this band's efforts or if I'm making this statement because it's sandwiched in between Anatomia and Coffins on this release . The voice can get annoying as well . It has a shallow loaded with reverb sound to it and moans groans and echoes tormentingly throughout . If this was a funeral doom band they would be dead on with their vibe but alas it is not so something or everything sounds a bit off here . The bass is indistinguishable which doesn't particularly bother me but may bother others that hear this band . In the overall picture though this is the listeners last problem on this . The drums I find to be the only enjoyable instrument on this as the slower parts of the arrangements are filled in nicely . When this band does speed up it gets very washed out sounding but the drummer is still quite good and keeps time nicely with a unique sound and talent of his own . I can understand on split releases how bands from differing genres and styles get together to make a particular release work but Grudge just doesn't do it for me here . Too much echo, too much sloppiness and an almost confusion (at least for this listener) at what type of sound they were really going for here makes this the low point of the split for me . Maybe if they just stayed with their doomy qualities and added a thicker guitar sound they would have been enjoyable on this but they didn't .
Onto the Coffins . Coffins for those that don't know are an amazing death/doom band that just just never seems to put out anything that is short of soul crushingly heavy . They have a ferocity to them that seems to be unmatched in the heavy department . The four songs offered on Doomed to Death are just that . The guitar and bass oozes a disgusted putrid almost indescribable heavy tone . The drums sound like cannons going off in your head as your slowly taken through the world of some of the most insanely heavy music ever produced . This trio of death dealers knows exactly how to crush and obliterate any notion one has of anything but the utmost brutal heaviness . This band is great and extremely (did I mention?) heavy . The appeal of the music contained here flows well with the rest of their endless discography . The guitar is tuned down to the point of the strings almost falling off the neck . They exude a death-like-doomy disgust within every second of their songs . Straight from hell doom and gloom with very catchy well earned tempo changes that never surpass a snails crawl . To play music this slow must be accomplished by at least utilizing two formula's: one the music must contain some sort of hook and two the band must believe in the music they are portraying . Coffins does both, and well . Four songs that are well produced and even a little cleaner sounding than on some of the other releases with a prominent bass sound as well . This is not as common of a sound as one would think from them although it works extremely well here . It's always good to hear a band even slightly change their sound on multiple releases as it tends to keep the music new and great all the while staying true-to-form . Who wants to hear a band that they once loved change their style I know I don't and it has happened to all of us too often I might add . Uchino's vocals still retain that guttural deep hellish feel and they are always a highlight with this band . Anything they ever have released has not (as of this writing ten releases) let me down in any way . This band seems to get better or at least stay just as amazing on any number of the demo's, albums or splits that they are a part of . Bands like this should be followed and appreciated for what they were and are; true underground fans that formed a band and are on an endless quest to make the heaviest sickest music ever . If you don't like this you don't like the underground ....PERIOD !!!!
A three-way split of Japanese bands that seems to flow rather strangely. Anatomia and Coffins seem to be a logical pairing for a split, both being oldschool, doomy, slightly crusty death metal bands, but Grudge makes it a bit stranger; this essentially unknown artist plays a breed of rather torturous sludge metal laced with filthy grind. The second band is sequence is certainly the odd man out on this collection. While all the sides of this release are quite strong, the way they're assembled is certainly strange, making the whole package a bit more palatable when taken in pieces rather than one bite.
In a major step up from what I felt was a flawed debut album, Anatomia have shed much of their obsessive Autopsy worship in favor of a sound that reminds me more of their previous incarnation as Transgressor. Autopsy is still a significant influence, but 'Mental Funeral' appears to have been spinning in the band's collective player a bit less while composing these five tracks. The band has started to carve out something of a song of its own, still firmly embedded in doomy death metal, but now having an almost hypnotic, ritualistic feel full of slow rhythms and winding riffs. Transgressor really comes to mind with its more atmospheric and haunted feel, and it's nice to see Anatomia moving forward more than a small step in finding their own sound. Gone are some of the utterly dreary atonal sludge plods of 'Dissected Humanity' in favor of more measured and subtle compositions, making for a much better listening experience overall.
While most people saw the band's debut as being incredibly strong, I definitely thought they could easily do better, and it seems they could and have. Their side of this three-way split is a very satisfying and enjoyable listen, marred by none of the excessive repetition and overly predictable structuring of their debut. If that album was a bit green, the material here shows the band composing in a much more mature and professional fashion while sacrificing none of the brutality and darkness that defines them. The atmosphere is just as filthy and depraved as before, so no need to worry that these guys have suddenly softened up with time. Anatomia is stronger than ever and I'm looking forward to hearing a new full-length from them with their new, more developed sound.
Certainly a bizarre band when compared to the more conventional strains of Anatomia and Coffins, Grudge plays a very bleak, hideous breed of extreme sludge mixed with blasting grind. The production on this side of the split is absolutely great, with a sick, dirt-caked guitar tone and drums with just enough trash to increase the overall sickness of the music. An easy comparison to make here would be to Goatsblood, though with a somewhat more musical sound which seems to be influenced by some of the earlier doomcrust bands such as Amebix. Some of the slower sections don't sound entirely removed from Anatomia, but when the band kicks into high gear you know they're a very different breed. Riffing alternates between laboriously picked single note patterns which drone over equally heavy-handed drumming, while the faster sections alternate between punk beats and blasting topped with death metal-influenced tremolo riffing or crusty power chord strums. One of the main points that will divide listeners, though, are the very peculiar vocals, which come in the form of a hoarse shout that I can only describe as 'hooting'; they're hard to describe but sound particularly ancient and decrepit, which seems to fit the overall feeling of the music quite well. I enjoy them, but those who aren't fans of strange vocals will probably be lost.
When I listen to Grudge's side of this split, I get a lot of images of trash-strewn streets, abandoned industrial districts, cloudy, dark, yellowed skies, and humans committing monstrous acts of violence upon one another. It's music for a society that has completely fallen into decay and predation, with not even a shred of hope to be found anywhere. Grudge is the ultimate antidote to the romantically melancholy or overbearingly good-time music that seems to have infected the metal scene as of late, so I have to give a hand to this band for 'keeping it real' so to speak. If you like nasty, unspeakably dark, oppressive, and hateful stuff, Grudge is definitely worth a look. Any description of the band's sound doesn't really do the whole package much justice, so those intrigued by my descriptions are heartily recommended to check them out for themselves. I definitely want to hear more from these guys.
Rounding out the bunch is the mighty Coffins, living legends of oldschool doom/death returning with four brand new tracks of massive riffs, pounding d-beats, and fierce, spitting grunts where singing should be. As usual, they fail to disappoint, and their material is just as perfectly composed and horrendously dark and heavy as before. Opening track 'Abysmal Blood Sea' is one of the band's best songs to date, being sort of a new, more complex version of 'The Unspeakable Pain' and its infectious, ultra-simple riffing, this time replaced with a filthy, grandiose main riff transforming into a churning morass of power chords and crushing drum beats. The following track, 'Cremated Remains', almost seems to be Coffins imitating Anatomia, with its clearly Autopsy-influenced riff set and sludgy, awkward rhythms. 'Stillbirth', on the other hand, is one of Coffins' crustiest and fastest tracks to date, and the thick production with enormously dirty guitar tone transforms the track into a barely comprehensible, utterly chaotic foray into oldschool crust/death insanity before a demented solo bursts in for a brief moment before the track's abrupt conclusion. Rounding out their side is a nasty cover of Asphyx's 'Wasteland Of Terror' for all the oldschool doom/deathers out there.
Really, does anything have to be said about Coffins' side? With this band you always know you're getting quality. Coffins has never had a bad release and this is no different. Any fan of oldschool Celtic Frost and Hellhammer worshiping doom/death metal really owes it to themselves to get this and all other Coffins releases immediately. Theft and/or cold-blooded murder is most certainly an option.
Yeah, this is pretty sweet. When I originally heard this split, my opinion of it was somewhat more muted due to the strange flow between artists, but eventually I got over that and saw this disc for what it is: a consistently great, unbelievably heavy and filthy slab of Japanese underground that everyone needs to grab. I suppose if your definition of metal only involves bands who employ dragons as a lyrical theme you might not be into this, but everyone else really needs to pick it up as soon as they can. It's just fantastic from start to finish and endures in quality through repeated listens. A nearly flawless split.