Written by Kep
Anthropophagous – Abuse of a Corpse
> Death metal
> Massachusetts, US
> Releasing April 7
> Headsplit Records
I’ll tell you what, Abuse of a Corpse was a surprising record for me. I’d heard and dug the lead single already when I got ahold of the full album for review, and between that track, the album title, and the cover art by Maegan Lemay, I was pretty sure that I had a good handle on what was in store for the listen. And in a way—the way related to me expecting a slab of grimy, nasty old school death metal—I was right. But there’s more beneath the surface here, and I found myself more impressed than I expected to be.
The Massachusetts-based three-piece expanded their lineup between their 2021 debut Death Fugue and this effort, adding bassist Maisie Kaiser to the existing lineup of frontman Shane Dupuy and drummer Steve Kamienski. And that’s not the only difference you’ll find between the two records: the production has been taken a notch up from DIY grit to professionally recorded and mixed—the band worked with experienced producer Justin Pizzoferrato—and as a result Abuse of a Corpse has excellent balance of its elements while maintaining a real authentic OSDM feel. Anthropophagous have taken your classic sophomore leap in overall quality.
But what we’re all here for is the riffs, obviously, and these folks have got ‘em. But when you press play on the record, you’re greeted with the first surprise: intro track “No Fire Can Warm You”, which is a quiet two-minute acoustic track that will lull you into a false sense of calm. Dupuy’s work on this little intro is gorgeous, meandering this way and wandering that like embers of a dying flame swirling in a soft breeze. It’s all the more effective, then, when “The Oozing Room” bursts through the dam in a flurry of ripping death/thrash. It’s good classic shit too, with scything tremoloed lines giving way to rapid gallops. The first taste of Dupuy’s vocals completes the grisly picture, his gurgling low growls as laden with filth as the rest of the sordid pieces. It’s a killer track, and a great way to kick off a record.
The album’s riffs love to dance on that line between vicious thrash speed and gore-dripping punishing death, mixing approaches to keep things plenty interesting and the listener on their toes. The title track is a great example, featuring a tasty bass and drum intro that leads to almost psychedelic waving guitar lines in harmony, followed by a main riff in 5/4 and a verse riff in 4 that are both quick-picking scorchers. What follows is an assortment of driving power, snare pounding and cymbal bell ringing like a hammer on an anvil, and then a slower, crushingly heavy death riff that drops out of nowhere the way you might expect from an Incantation song. It’s the sort of focused variety that makes for damn satisfying songs.
The blend of thrash aspects is heavily prevalent, with Anthropophagous leaning firmly toward death metal’s early days where it and thrash were more closely related than they are now. Tracks like “I Drink from Your Skull” are true throwbacks, with a spacious intro section, a straightforward pummeling main riff, gruff growling shouts, a spiraling approach into a tempo break and a headlong speedy thrash attack. The band is committed to that authentically old school approach, and the comfortable familiarity is a big part of this album’s appeal. This isn’t complicated stuff with blazing solos and constant rhythmic and technical wizardy, but it’s not boring by any means; the songs feel plenty distinct, there are some wicked discordant solos dotted here and there, and the countless nasty fills from Kamienski have a rough sort of charm.
Other standout moments on the record include my bruising favorite track “Hidden Crematoriums”, the epic “Acrimony, Spite, and Malice”, which opens with an eerily grand motif and then proceeds to ruthlessly batter and jab for nearly six minutes, and the several classic style bass solos from Kaiser that let listener know they’re in for something particularly ruinous. Synth-centric interlude “Between Always and Never” (credited to guest Renato Montenegro) is the only headscratcher on the album for me. It’s not that it’s bad—far from it, its haunting minor melody, clanging bells, and eventual turn into a Summoning-esque dungeon synth medieval tableaux is extremely well done—it’s just that I have no idea how it makes any sense in the context of the record. The rest of the smart 36-minute runtime feels pretty tightly designed.
THE BOTTOM LINE
There’s been no shortage of kickass death metal in 2023, so go ahead and add Anthropophagous’ sophomore effort to the list. Abuse of a Corpse is a strong outing from a band with plenty of things still to come, and fans of old school death metal should definitely make time to give it a spin. It hits the oozing, filth-ridden spot.