Anatomia – Corporeal Torment Review

I’ll spare you the history blurb masquerading as an intro paragraph: Anatomia is a Japanese death-doom band that’s been around for almost twenty years, you’ve probably heard them on a split with a band you like, and Corporeal Torment is their fourth full-length. Now that you’re all caught up, let’s admire the title’s accuracy for a moment. Corporeal Torment implies something physically oppressive, and that’s precisely what Anatomia seems to be going for here. That it can also be described as rancid and crushing would probably make these two Japanese dudes smile ear-to-ear, although smiling is not something their sound is whatsoever evocative of.

What’s happening here reminds of the slouching Hellhammer-isms of Coffins on Mortuary in Darkness, the gooey, gory, basement-killings aura that Undergang gets right, and the funereal darkness of a band like Ataraxie rolled up into four varied songs across forty-two minutes. The production here is much drier than the last Undergang record, which suits the music well. Anatomia play this death-doom thing rather straight, making their music sound like death and doom instead of like your favorite horror flicks like Autopsy does – there’s no wink and a nod here, and we’re supposed to take Corporeal Torment seriously and at face value by the sounds of it. While we tend to avoid track-by-track reviews here due to their unwieldy annoyance, it’s difficult to avoid moving through a record of only four songs which relies heavily on its structure to make any sense without doing something resembling that forbidden form.

The structure of Corporeal Torment is one of a descent into the void. “Dismemberment” kicks in properly after a minute of creepy and effective ambiance with a barrage of blasting and some fast Coffins riffing. The vocals remind of Undergang, and the speed manages to be suffocating. This doesn’t last; the song begins to slow down, eventually concluding on a simplistic, plodding, but nevertheless effective riff. The initial burst of pain, spasms, and adrenaline concluded, Anatomia begins with their slow, torturous form of death. Once again, the title gives us a hint: it’s not quite funeral doom, because funerals are for the dead and there’s still tormenting of the living left to do. “Slime of Putrescence” begins on the classic death-doom device of playing root notes in a relatively clean tone before launching into the weighty trudge, which here is an even slower Coffins. The riff devolves in the verse to a few discordant chords, driving home the misery. A little over one-third in, a remarkably effective tempo change driven by smart drumming rears its head and evolves into a Hellhammer-esque quasi-thrash riff. It’s short lived, meaning the song essentially climaxes at about the halfway point. This leaves Anatomia to play slow, creepy, clean leads over a dour shambling riff from before.

“Despaired Void” begins the more “atmospheric” portion of the record. It reminds me of a simpler, drier, and more cruel take on Celtic Frost’s morose atmospheric tracks on Monotheist combined with Ophis’ melodicism. The chanting vocals make it sound like a twisted hymn to death and despair, and the playful bass work manages to suit the song well. It’s atmospheric as it doesn’t exactly go anywhere, and instead expects you to go into it and get lost inside. That may sound boring, but Anatomia pulls it off nicely and I find this to be a truly effective song. This idea is taken to its extreme conclusion in closing number “Mortem,” which is twenty-one minutes long and almost purely atmospheric. This is achieved through unsettling noises, sparse drumming, and rhythm guitar that’s almost amorphous in places. This relegates nearly everything to background noise, to an environment where the listener grabs onto what little they can. I like this idea, and the execution is interesting, but the whole experience becomes numbing by the conclusion. Perhaps the numbness of succumbing to Corporeal Torment was the intended effect, but it’s hard not to check out before the end. By the time the record concludes, the quality riffing of the first two tracks are a distant memory.

Corporeal Torment is disturbing and oppressive death-doom. There’s plenty of material to like, and while the concept of “Mortem” may be more interesting than its execution, the song isn’t a total wash. When it concludes with weird, warbling feedback, the initial riffing and blasting in “Dismemberment” feels all but forgotten. This is music best experienced alone and uninterrupted to let the nightmarish soundscape wash over you.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Dark Descent Records | Me Saca Un Ojo Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: May 20th, 2021

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