Anatomia’s Devastating Legacy Inflicts “Corporeal Torment” (Interview)
Many of the roots of Japanese death metal go back to one man: Takashi Tanaka. Instrumental both to the legendary Transgressor and involved with cult death/thrashers Necrophile, Takashi has been making extreme music since the tail end of the 1980s. With hours of music between his various bands since then, it’s clear that his love for the macabre has never stopped.
Though his roots go back to bands like Transgressor, Necrophile, and Waco Jesus, Takashi is well known internationally not just for his legacy at the dawn of extreme metal but also for his tireless output across the last twenty years with his slightly-younger band, Anatomia, which formed back in 2002 and has been prolifically releasing music ever since. Devastatingly heavy and disgustingly morbid, Anatomia simultaneously calls back to the early days of Autopsy and of Takashi’s own previous bands while also exploring new sonic ground, weaving together dark atmospheres, dirging tempos, and a hideous morbidity that all marry to make Anatomia one of the best running death metal bands.
With a new album out soon on Me Saco Un Ojo Records and Dark Descent Records, Anatomia is still as on fire as they’ve ever been, and it seemed like a good time to talk to Takashi about the band and their fourth full length, Corporeal Torment.
Hello Takashi, thanks for taking the time to do this interview for Invisible Oranges! It’s been some four years since Cranial Obsession and you’re back again with a new album, Corporeal Torment. This is actually the least amount of time that Anatomia has ever taken to write a new album; did you guys do anything differently this time?
This album has only four songs so that is probably the biggest difference. We have been using double LP format for the last albums, but for this time we use single LP instead. Not because we didn't have time for DLP or anything else, but we only wanted to make it shorter and simple. Three songs on side A and one long song on side B. As this past year was nothing but staying home, cancelled shows/tours with Covid world pandemic, we just have been focusing on creating materials, like many others are doing. I was talking to David from Undergang about an idea that both of our bands release new albums around the same time, and that is followed by Anatomia/Undergang split as well. It ended up ours is coming out at a later time though.
Have you always written your music with the track listing on vinyl in mind?
Yes we often do that. We come up with an idea and think about the structure. Like which song will be the first one, we usually put a fast song there. And then for the rest of the side A, we can have a certain length to use... For this album, we didn't think much beforehand, so after we roughly wrote the songs, we arranged to cut some parts of one song to make it shorter in order to fit it in the side A. We already had an idea to have one long song in side B.
A significant portion of that long B-side track, Mortem, is made up of atmospheric and non-metal parts. What is that about, and how did you go about composing it?
Yes, that's a good question, and nice that you pointed out the "atmospheric and non-metal" parts. We had an idea and a totally dark, depressive, abysmal image from the beginning to the end. We didn't want to stay in a specific genre, and got rid of those typical use of guitar riffs and changes, so that listeners can sense that sound with certain images. It surely has ambient/noise music elements, and we may get opinions on the pros and cons, as this is like a soundtrack/soundscape song. We had songs like this before, and it's just one of them and the longest ever. We will continue adding these experimental parts.
What draws you to those experimental sounds, and what made now the right time to make them such a large part of an album?
We always have a dark and abysmal picture and one big image when we write an album, and we came up with that torturing slow endless song which was something we didn't do before. Always need a big impact, something totally dark sound, instead of you know just regular songs.
Was it difficult to put together what is now the longest Anatomia song, as far as I’m aware?
Not really difficult [laughs]. We just had the rough image before we did the drum tracking at first. Recorded a drum track without any specific song written but the idea was to create a 20 minutes-long song. Jun later recorded all other tracks just by listening to the drums, and so it's recorded in improvisation. So it's impossible to play live [laughs]. Jun said that the editing of the samplings and adjusting the balance of effects was more difficult than the guitar-tracking, and it was fun and learned a lot from the recording.
Do you often write songs by recording drums before riffs?
Not often. We usually write songs with guitar riffs first, but we just started this experiment recently, and it was Jun's idea. We think that writing songs with guitar riffs would make it similar to the others, so we wanted to do something different, and it worked well especially for a long song like this.
What are some advantages to doing the band as a two piece? Are there are disadvantages?
We are both main song-writers even though we are now two-piece, so not a big change in our music itself. We rather feel comfortable now as we can do all recordings and other things without any stress. There are no disadvantages.
Your last two albums were released by Nuclear War Now! Productions, but Corporeal Torment is a co-release between Me Saco un Ojo Records and Dark Descent Records. How did you get in touch with Jesus and Matt, and what led to the decision to work with new labels?
Jesus and Matt are good friends of mine since 10 and some years ago. We wanted to have it released by good friends label this time, and we are happy about it. NWN! is still good and a great label, but after two albums, we wanted to leave and make a change. Also, we had really good connections with MSUO/DD bands, like Undergang, and we thought it would be nice to get together. As I mentioned in the previous question, I was in contact to David Undergang and had an idea/plan to release our new album on the same label, so that it would be easier for us to do a tour/shows together.
Do you prefer the idea of working with many different labels over time rather than having a stable label that you stick with forever, generally speaking?
I just didn't have any strong preference. The result was like this, after getting lots of split offers from different labels and bands. But we don't want to change the label for our albums. We will stick to these current labels, Me Saco Un Ojo and Dark Descent, from this album and beyond.
How do you guys feel about the contemporary Japanese death metal scene, and your place in it after all these years? How does it compare to the scene that you cut your teeth on in the 1980s and early 1990s?
Of course, the scene back in the 1980s and 1990s was great and something very memorable, cuz we were there, actively played shows, and lots of letters and trades. Today's scene is totally different. It's really good in a different way. More convenient, easy access to everything but I feel sometimes tired because there are so many things at a time. For example, we played many shows in the 1990s but not as many as these days, and we were more excited whenever we go out to play live and meet friends, while today we can chat anytime online and everything goes faster. But I think we have much more good bands today so that point I really like. Many good bands and great music today! The death metal scene in Japan today is not really big in terms of number of bands and live shows but grind-core, hard core stuff are more popular here.
Do you ever wish that death metal was more popular at home?
Yes I wish for a bigger scene here. I feel pessimistic though because a different type of death metal is popular here, not old school death and doom we grew up with. You know, there's a huge gap between pop music and death metal here. It's really crazy that so many people are into anime, cosplay and such that culture is real big, so death metal is just nothing compared to that.
Are any current local bands particular favorites? Conversely, are there any bands from the 1980s or 1990s that you feel never got enough attention internationally?
Current local bands I recommend and I like are Invictus, Parasitario, Mortal Incarnation, Miasma Death, Caasimolar, Fester Decay, Bafomet. There are some more. Well, I think a lot of Japanese bands usually do not get much promotion to overseas, so there are many. Disgrace (death thrash from late 80's), Dark Ritual (1993-1995), Desperate Corruption (1993-1997), Unhuman Society Death…
Has it ever been difficult over the years to maintain interest in playing death metal yourself?
Many years of playing death metal now but I have never lost interest in doing it. It's like a lifetime thing to me. I am a fan of all kinds of metal itself, I buy and collect death metal, always fun to play death metal, and get in touch with and meet people in this music and love supporting the scene worldwide.
Would you ever want to start a new band that plays another type of music, or is your eternal love for death metal enough to keep you satisfied?
Yes I did it before but it was just for jamming, and not to record anything with it. Me and Yoshio (our first guitarist) wrote some alternative rock tunes as a project but it ended up jamming at a studio a few times. Other than that, we always stay in the death metal and we are all satisfied.
You guys do a lot of split releases with bands from around the world. What keeps bringing you back to that format?
Split release is just fun to us. And we get a lot of offers from bands, labels, and so we just keep releasing splits. We always take the opportunity to collaborate with people, bands/labels around the world. So there's no reason to turn down the offers from them.
What’s next for Anatomia?
New split coming out this year, including a 12" split with Ruin to be released by FatAsso Records from Poland, and another 12" split with Undergang to be released by Me Saco Un Ojo Records. We are currently working on a 7" split with Druid Lord, which we are almost finished recording now. We have many more split plans, and also new reissues, some new merch coming. We will keep working on new materials.
Do you have anything else to talk about or promote?
Thanks for reading, thanks for your support! Check out and make sure to buy our new album Corporeal Torment, and keep an eyes on our even newer stuff coming. Stay dismal slow death metal!!
Corporeal Torment releases May 20th via Me Saco Un Ojo and Dark Descent Records.