Anatomia / Undergang – Split (2022) Review

In all of heavy metal’s fifty-ish glorious years, how many conversations have been had the world around concerning some variation on the theme “Who is the heaviest of them all?” Tens of thousands, no doubt. Hundreds of thousands? Millions? More? I’ve been a part of countless dozens myself, usually fueled by beer and mostly in my younger days. I’m guessing it’s as common a phenomenon for most all of you…

Release date: April 15, 2022. Label: Dark Descent / Me Saco Un Ojo.
The reason most of those conversations were consigned to my younger self is because I know now that it’s a fruitless endeavor, an ultimately unanswerable question. But if we widen the scope to include a range of bands that could qualify… in terms of today’s scene, we’d without question have to include both Japan’s Anatomia and Denmark’s Undergang.

And conveniently, now here we have them on one one split record, which is not to be confused with the other time we had them on one split record, back in 2017. That one was one song per band, issued with two covers and in two different languages to reflect each band’s homeland, and this one is… not. For this one, Anatomia brings two tracks and Undergang provides three. What’s most important, of course, is that all five of those songs are, to use the common vernacular of my native Tennessee, heavier’n all holy hell.

The last Anatomia full-length – last year’s wonderfully dreadful Corporeal Torment – ended up on my best-of list, a perfectly despondent slab of truly crushing death/doom, all agonizing trudge and downtuned sludge. These two new songs follow suit, both in terms of the band’s established style and also their overall quality, both being strong entries that showcase Anatomia’s mastery of the bleak and wretched. At over twelve minutes, “Total Darkness” is an appropriately named long slow slog through just that, with stellar doom riffs from Jun Tonosaki atop Takashi Tanaka’s sluggish (but not lazy) gait. One-third the length of its predecessor, “Bound To Death” starts with a fast, driving tempo for a minute before settling into an eerie, hypnotic repetitive guitar passage, hazy and almost psychedelic in its drift, only to kick back up to thrashing for the final thirty seconds. It’s a lesson in extremes, one that proves that Anatomia can bash with the best at either speed, all of it equally downtrodden even as it pushes and pulls the beat up and down.

Bringing up the b-side, Copenhagen’s heaviest purveyors of putridity Undergang are as dependable as Anatomia, now five albums in to a decade-plus of recording and each record a reeking pile of rotten death. (And I mean that as high praise, of course.) These three tracks are Undergang doing their sewer-level under-thang, all dripping gross guitar tones and David Torturdød’s inhumanly icky gutturals. “Helt til rotterne” kicks off with caveman swagger, balancing chunky and gnarled riffs against Anders Dødshjælp’s hammering drums. The literal and figurative centerpiece of the side, “I dit stiveste pus” starts with a short, twisting solo from Mads Haarløv and a choked growl before kicking in to a spirited groove, offset by a killer carving up-and-down tremolo riff and balanced nicely against a late-song drop into doomy territory. Each of these three songs is yet another proverbial feather in the band’s already-heavily-feathered cap, each showing why and how these grimy groovy Danes have carved themselves out a nice little spot at the top of Denmark’s death pile.

So, yes, this nameless split is two great bands doing their great band thing, death/doom despair and superbly rotten death. If the bleak and the ugly put you in your happy place, then, hey, good news: Anatomia and Undergang are here with the feel-bad split of the summer.

Posted by Andrew Edmunds

Last Rites Co-Owner; Senior Editor; born in the cemetery, under the sign of the MOOOOOOON...

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