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Anatomia > Corporeal Torment > Reviews > we hope you die
Anatomia - Corporeal Torment

Musical decay - 91%

we hope you die, May 21st, 2021

Veteran Japanese death/doomsters Anatomia return with their latest LP ‘Corporeal Torment’, and what a treat it is. If previous efforts from this outfit were a compellingly creepy blend of Autopsy and diSEMBOWELMENT, this album sees them flirt with drone. The underlying formula may still be intact, but Anatomia seem intent on placing it on the rack and stretching it into a contorted mutation of itself. Predecessor ‘Cranial Obsessions’ (2017) was a weighty survey of the many darkened corridors of death/doom that stretched to well over an hour. ‘Corporeal Torment’ is far shorter, but it sees them zero in on the darkest, slowest, murkiest aspects of this subgenre. They have essentially washed themselves clean of death metal for the sake of pure doom riffs, darkly immersive atmospheres, and chasmic production values.

And seeing as we’ve mentioned production, we might as well start there. I believe it would be most instructive to view this as a dark ambient album posing as metal. The guitar tone is a down-tuned dirge incapable of articulating anything more precise than slow, droning chords. On the rare occasions that the tempo does pick up, any musical artefacts that were present in the guitars are completely lost beneath the fuzzy inertia. Clean tones do crop up, issuing echoey and minimal note clusters, acting as a lament to the amoral distortion beneath. This colours the music with a sombre, funereal vibe which oozes from every pore.

The reason I wish to look at this as ambient album is the simplicity of the drums. They are fairly weak in the mix, and the patterns are very basic, for the most part following each chord strike with scant fills to link the vast chasms between each beat. In this sense we see percussion reduced to its most rudimentary elements, with any joy in creative rhythms long since departed. Beats serve no other purpose than to remind us of the passage of time.

But the guitars, in their mastery of tritones and drably minimal harmonies are aided heavily in their textural qualities by the vocals. With both Jun Tonosaki and Takashi Tanaka bringing their own vocal ejaculations to the table, they become one of the defining aspects of the album, fleshing out the riff textures with their throaty fuzz. It’s frankly unsettling. The chief voice articulates slow, guttural drones that act with rhythmic independence from the rest of the music. But a whole array of ghoulish drones and throat singing creep out of the mix as the album progresses. And they seem to compound on each other over the course of the album, growing in intensity and number as multiple vocal tracks are layered atop one another and reach for the ears from all sides.

There are fragments of traditional metal buried within ‘Corporeal Torment’, an Incantation riff here, a warped stoner riff there. But Anatomia seem bent on supressing the riff-based qualities in their music in order to recentre their style toward pure atmosphere. The riffs, such as they are, are well written and could easily stand on their own despite their simplicity. But in being stretched out over such slow tempos, supressed by a guitar tone with almost no attack, and at risk of being completely buried beneath the verbal monstrosities that wade across the mix, we simply cannot look at this as a metal album.

It is a dark ambient album that seeks to express the rotting process. The guitar/drum/bass setup of metal is not simply being pushed to new levels of murk, it is decaying, losing all solidity before our ears. The sharp forms and distinct materials that define all stripes of metal are rotting, merging, combining into an indeterminate mulch.

This finds its final expression in the twenty minute closer ‘Mortem’. There is a drumbeat, the guitar appears to be moving between notes, and vocals are still articulating symbols. But these things are only just within the grasp of our perception, slowly fading into the void. It’s as if we’re witnessing their final cry in this reality before submerging into compost. In letting go of riff philosophy on ‘Corporeal Torment’, Anatomia are linking up with the strong ties already present between metal and dark ambient, and finding new ways to strengthen and flesh out this artistically unique bond.

Originally published at Hate Meditations