Technical death metal can be a bit of a minefield to get into. Of course there are some fantastic bands out there, Spawn
and Quo Vadis
, but it is a genre littered with bands that try to outdo everything written before them. Attempting to dazzle with ludicrously displays of guitar complexity and drumming technicality is fine but many forget the songs; a well written and ‘difficult’ album is nothing without something that is memorable enough to bring listeners back. But, the good thing about Anata
is that they do this, without compromising any of them power or technical abilities. 2006’s The Conductor’s Departure
is the latest in a lineage of quality tech death albums from these Swedish boys. Their previous works have been lauded as great examples of how tech death can be done right, and their latest is no different. At once, you can hear the maturity in the writing, the confidence with which the songs are performed and the huge level of riff writing ability exerted in each track. It combines straightforward blast, some great Gothenberg-style melodies and excellent technical riffing.
Opening track ‘Downward Spiral into Madness’ blasts out of the gates with some great duelling guitars, spiralling in and out of each other’s paths, pursuing different agendas and yet somehow combining harmoniously to create a raging opener. Further examples of such hyper-technicality crop up all throughout the records, from the barrelling ‘Complete Demise
’ to the wonderful combination of brutality and melody that comprises ‘The Great Juggler’. One of Anata
’s strong points is riding that line of brutality and melody, regularly blurring it to create mind bending combinations. Usually, the norm with such bands is to sacrifice one for the other, with the blast subverting any attempt at melody or the more tuneful leads taking away from the intensity. But not for Anata
this compromise; they twist these elements to their own gain, creating hurricanes of melodic technical death without losing the heaviest elements. When will bands learn this method?
But the speed and technicality is not the only weapon in the Anata
armoury. Brooding doom/death rumbles beneath ‘I Would Dream
ofBlood’, reminding the listener of slower Morbid Angel
’s Laughter’ is a short, instrumental passage that adds menace and the title track cooks up all the best elements of the band in an 8 minute, twisting labyrinth of a song. But the highlight is the third track, ‘Better Grieved
Than Fooled’, where the entire middle 3 minutes is an instrumental section that allows the strength of the band’s music to breathe without the afterthought of lyrics and vocals. Not that the lyrics are passable, they fit the music well with anti-Christian and philosophical elements.
Overall ‘The Conductor’s Departure
’ is a proper example of how to do technical death metal properly without becoming boring or overpowering in its technical attack. Anata
have pulled off yet another groundbreaking album to add to their other three masterpieces. Must be difficult maintaining this pattern, let’s look forward to their next release, reportedly for 2009.