Anatomia – Dissected Humanity

Here’s one of those rare cases of an already good album getting terribly overrated.  I think a good deal of this overrating comes from a strange conception in the metal population that this sort of doomy death metal almost entirely ceased to exist around when Autopsy broke up, when in fact there’s dozens of artists who are still doing this same style of music: Coffins, Deteriorot, several hundred Scandinavian bands, etc.  Anatomia isn’t particularly unique in this respect, and this also makes them certainly not ‘saviors’ of anything.  While it’s a capable album that has a lot of good stuff in it, it also has just enough flaws to prevent it from being at the top of the oldschool death metal heap, and to not be worthy of the insane praise heaped on it.

This is a sort of messy album.  I get the impression that Anatomia wanted to recreate a time period of sound but sort of missed the train on making a coherent work out of it.  If you don’t know, Anatomia is essentially an oldschool Autopsy-worship band that managed to become way more popular than all the other oldschool Autopsy-worship bands mostly through good distribution.  That isn’t to say it’s not worthwhile music; ‘Dissected Humanity’ has some great parts to it.  I do consider myself a big fan of the oldschool, doomy death Autopsy sound, and more of it’s always welcome in my book.  And quite frankly, Anatomia replicates it better than just about anyone else.

The good: most of the riffs are very dark and brutal and seem to be taken directly from ‘Mental Funeral’.  Anatomia generally lacks the punk edge of Autopsy and replaces it with a more serious breed of misanthropy.  Fewer songs about shit, more songs about cannibalism.  The tempo is usually a midpaced plod, occasionally jerking upwards into a rickety blast beat that sears through the claustrophobic, tomblike production.  Vocals are a hollow, ghoulish growl like what you’d hear in fellow Japanese grinders Catasexual Urge Motivation.  Anatomia is a sort of ‘part two’ project from the ashes of earlier band Transgressor, which has a slightly more erudite sound, but this is pretty much pure gutter doom/death with little unique apart from just how much it manages to resemble the old classics like ‘Slowly We Rot’-era Obituary.

There’s a block of songs right in the middle of this album that are absolutely great.  ‘Funeral Feast’ is a good midpaced number that opens the sequence before moving into the superfast ‘Suicides’, and finally collapsing and concluding with the true gem on this album, ‘Deceased’.  That last song is where Anatomia gets everything right.  The main riff sequence is an incredibly serpentine groove over shimmering double bass and grotesque vocals, and while the rest of the song isn’t QUITE able to manage that level of perfection, damn if it doesn’t try throughout.  Ironically, this song is the one that least sounds like Autopsy, which brings me to one of the central things that hamstrings ‘Dissected Humanity’: it’s just too much of a clone of the Autopsy sound, particularly the bad parts.

You see, I’ve always liked the IDEA of Autopsy-style doom/death more than the actuality of it most of the time, and a lot of time is spent trying to find bands who do stuff like ‘Deceased’: doomy death metal with a modern groove edge.  But Anatomia wants to clone Autopsy from top to bottom, so they take a lot of the crappy parts of that sound too.  I don’t take joy in those sludgy, midpaced, atonal plods that Anatomia does with disjointed riffs and massive amounts of repetition, nor do I like the overly frantic blast beats apart from on ‘Suicides’ where it works just because the song is under two minutes long.  I guess it could be said that one of the annoying features of this album is that it almost never relaxes into a working flow; it’s all tension, no release, like if you had a Devourment album where it was nothing but those upward-climbing snare rolls and short tremolo riffs but no breakdowns.  It makes for a lot of the songs being unsatisfying and awkward listens; I guess it works for some people, but honestly I just like more symmetry from my music.

Which brings me to my next bone of contention: it’s too long and too goddamn repetitive.  When ‘Dissected Humanity’ is good, it’s great, but when it’s mediocre it just refuses to stop being so.  Those sludge-plods seem to go on forever whenever they’re introduced and the solid groove sections never last long enough.  Frankly, when I put this album on, I tend to listen to the aforementioned three-song block and then put something else on simply because none of the other tracks are able to match up to those in pure quality.  Listening to the whole album is sort of a chore; I can make it to about halfway through ‘Morgue Of Cannibalism’ before I get pissed off and want it to end, but I suppose it’s all based on how obsessed you are with the Autopsy sound.

I’ve sort of taken a red pen to this album, but it’s more a factor of the crazy praise it gets than evidence of its quality or lack thereof.  I do like ‘Dissected Humanity’; it’s a very capable, catchy, and generally well-written slab of doom/death metal.  It’s simply not the be-all, end-all of the genre that many people seem to think it is.  There’s worse out there, but there’s also better, so I’d recommend you see what’s out there before stopping the presses over this CD.

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~ by noktorn on May 21, 2008.

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