Friend, you are going to have trouble with this record. You, the one with things to do, people to see, and a rich life to lead. Cranial Obsession is a flat tire on the way to your first day at the new job and all the miserable horror that somehow manages to follow, including being hauled with tire jack in hand into the woods by some Lovecraftian beast that’s very much looking forward to slowly chewing through your scalp with some fresh black trumpet mushrooms on the side. Cranial Obsession is five total steps on your fitbit after being up for 48hrs straight. This record is painting a portrait of what it must be like to slowly slip into the ocean’s black depths with zero hope of rescue, and then contentedly watching the paint dry without blinking for an hour straight. Cranial Obsession is death doom with an honest and literal interpretation of both words, and the putridity of it all is strangely delightful.
What makes a record like Cranial Obsession so strange, apart from the fact that the vocals sound like a huge pile of rotting leaves recounting a particularly tough day, is the fact that the beginning of the trip is an entirely different encounter compared to the end. Mushroomed from the same mold, sure, but an encounter that feels like a full chase that ultimately leads to an early ticket to putrefaction in some horrid woods behind a busted-ass house.
Funereal grind? Is that what this is? No, not the fancy nu-grind you can plug into via some hidden XboX port, but the older, grimier, deathlier version that spawned giddy deformities like Impetigo, Repulsion and Rottrevore, particularly that first little abomination. Rotten grind for crumbled minds. Cranial Obsession‘s opening “Necrotic Incision,” for example, spends about 45 seconds being creepy before hitting you directly in the chops with a flailing fist, and the follow-up, “Fiend,” damn-near comes across like a blood-soaked b-side to World Downfall.
“Morbid Hallucination” and “Uncanny Descension” flash speedier pulverization akin to ye olde deathgrinders as well, the former with a particularly scooting groove, but a strong insistence on slowness trimmed with heavy keyboard atmospherics shifts the record’s overall disposition fairly early, giving the whole of Cranial Obsession more of a sinister, ghoulish face. “Vanishment” shambles from the speakers like a seaweed golem lumbering at the bottom of the ocean, and although there’s a moment where he apparently finds himself in a violent tussle with some other creature of the deep around the 2:40 mark, the chilling, horror-draped keys that land two minutes later make it apparent that our languid hero has won the round, so the remaining seven minutes is spent consuming its victim in a particularly gradual manner.
And really, that’s just the beginning of the full mental collapse. “Excarnated” devotes five minutes to haunting a healthy mind with a gently floating, grumble-groaning specter and generally gentle play before closing out on the sort of creeping weight that could make a band like Skepticism blush, and the full 15 minutes of “Abysmal Decay” drones like an Earth 2 bonus track that’s narrated by actual fog. And lastly, those hoping for some semblance of a happy ending get treated to “Recurrence,” a ten minute ambient plodfest that represents the closest thing you’ll ever get to a soundtrack detailing what sounds like a 5-ton toad sleeping off a night spent overindulging on human bones washed down with endless gallons of stinking swamp water.
If all of this sounds horrible to you–and for Pete’s fucking sake, why wouldn’t it–you should probably treat this release like the crawling plague that it is. But Cranial Obsession is wonderful, in a mentally deranged sort of way. It doesn’t really do anything brand new, but it does what it needs to do in a freshly unhinged manner that bullies genre edges just enough to be addictive. In the end, when death doom is really done right, it should leave the listener feeling as if he or she is actually doomed and soon-to-be dead. Thankfully, that seems to be the only firm grip on reality Anatomia seems willing to embrace.