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Review: Intestine Baalism - An Anatomy of the Beast
Intestine Baalism
An Anatomy of the Beast

Label: Sewer Rot Records
Year released: 2022
Originally released in: 1997
Duration: 39:56
Tracks: 9
Genre: Melodic Death Metal

Rating: 4.75/5

Review online: June 7, 2022
Reviewed by: Mjölnir
Readers Rating
An Anatomy of the Beast

Rated 4.6/5 (92%) (5 Votes)

While not as widely discussed as other global scenes at the time, Japan had a really strong Death Metal scene in the late ‘90s, with a number of bands taking the strongest elements of various other scenes to create something greater than the sum of its parts that transcended its influences into something unique. Intestine Baalism were arguably one of the progenitors of that scene, producing a mere three albums during roughly a decade of activity that are regarded by their followers to be some of the finest Melodic Death Metal ever made. Being one of those followers for a while now, I’m inclined to agree, and with Sewer Rot Records pressing a reissue for their debut recently, that gives me enough of an excuse to tell you why.

Stylistically, Intestine Baalism take heavy inspiration from Swedish Death Metal in terms of aggression and vocals, and for the first two thirds of the opener "Corporal Celebration," you may enter An Anatomy of the Beast thinking it’s just another album of the type that just happens to be better than average. It’s when you get to the last third where the band shows what really makes them special, for it’s there where combine take the tragic, soaring sensibilities of Finnish Melodeath with the propulsive quality of Swedish Melodeath and pull the rug out from under the listener with a feral, haunting melodic sensibility that appears to be a distinct feature of the Japanese scene, likely because they practically invented it. From there, the album balances out their more traditional and aggressive songs like the fearsome "Alastor Possess" and album closer "Tyrant" with songs lead by and supporting shaded, beautiful lead work like on the varied and intense "Cannibal Sodom" or the jaw-dropping album highlight "A Place Their Gods Left Behind," the latter of which stands not only among their best songs, but among the very best the genre has to offer.

Compared to the rest of their output, An Anatomy of the Beast is the least inventive and most direct, with their other albums drifting away from the blatant Swedish Death Metal influences to focus more on refining the elements that make them unique. As such, I’d probably call this the weakest of their three albums overall, but most bands would kill to have a single song as good as anything off it. If you are unfamiliar with the band, this is probably the best place to start, not only because it contains some of the highest highs the genre has ever seen, but also because it serves as the clearest example of what elements Intestine Baalism used to make something that’s greater than the sum of its parts, something that was new, exciting, moving, and deserving of much more attention than it generally gets. Awe-inspiring.

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