Review Summary: A standout album in technical death metal that manages to be ferocious and aggressive yet melodic and progressive at the same time.
“Once again my rivers flood, As you were drained of blood”
Sweden’s Anata made a huge impact with their debut album, The Infernal Depths of Hatred, so one would wonder if they had the potential to follow up such an amazing album. Well they have, and they’ve come back sporting a new direction with their sound without losing the core aspect of their music. Anata’s lineup on this album is:
Fredrik Schalin: Vocals/Guitar
Andreas Allenmark: Guitar
Henrik Drake: Bass
Conny Petersson: Drums
The most noticeable change on this album is that the album as a whole is much heavier and darker than the previous album. The technicality has also been upped a notch from the last album, while still keeping the progressive and melodic elements intact.
The guitar work is a bit more brutal than it was on the last album, featuring more aggressive death metal riffs and dissonant chords. The melodies are more focused in the progressive vein here and less in the tremolo picked melodies. However, the emotional tone, while not as strong here as it was on the debut, is still very present in the melodies on the album. The riffs and melodies still swirl around in a typhoon of passionate complexity, just with a little more diversity here. Another noticeable trait on this album is the increased presence of guitar solos. Not only are they much more common on this album, but their quality has improved as well, utilizing finger tapping and plenty of tasteful, crisp melody. The guitars are also much more “crunchy” on this album, which makes for a more evil, nihilistic atmosphere, as opposed to the more prideful sound of the last record.
Fredrik seems to have favored his low vocals on this album, as his growls dominate his vocal performance, with the black metal influenced shrieks being put on the backburner, as they are mostly absent here. However, his growls are much more passionate and ferocious now, possibly due to them being placed a bit further up in the mix. Second guitarist Andreas Allenmark provides the occasional throaty howl in the background, and its quite obvious that he’s not used to it, because it sounds awkward. Fortunately, he rarely does backing vocals here.
The rhythm section differs a lot from the previous album, especially in the drumming. Henrik’s bass playing is a bit more audible in the mix now, and it’s nice to hear him grooving under the volleys of mind boggling yet memorable guitar work. As you can tell, Robert was replaced by his brother Conny, and this was a very crucial step, as his skills behind the kit far exceed his brother. His style is very fluid and smooth, providing plenty of tasty fills as well as being able to carry the faster areas of the album better due to him providing faster blast beats.
While the potpourri if influences may not be as strong here, it actually benefits them here now that they have a more focused sound. Album opener Die Laughing
features blazingly fast, catchy riffs and scorching lead work throughout. The blasting brutality of Dreamon
and Can’t Kill What’s Already Dead
manage to destroy everything in its path with crushing riffs and furious drumming, while keeping a slight melodic edge. Insurrection
and God of Death
offer mostly mid-paced crushers interspersed with blasting and some warped, winding riffing and fancy solos. Or how about The Enigma of Number Three
, with it’s deceptively calm intro that suddenly goes for the throat with mind boggling guitar showmanship that also manages to be extremely catchy and grabs you by the throat, all the while carrying a slight hint of melody underneath. Metamorphosis By the Well of Truth
has a very creative use of dissonance in the melodies, while Drain of Blood
manages to bounce along on a groovy swagger, while sporting one of the best guitar solos on the album. One of the biggest highlights on this album is the stunningly epic Faith, Hope, Self Deception
, which begins with nice, crunchy riffing, followed by a short but beautiful clean guitar break, leading into some of the most epic, passionate guitar work on the entire album, with the tempo gradually picking up and shifting as the song goes on. The progressive eight minute monolith The Temple/Erratic
begins on a furious note, with some of the riffing actually reminding me of Edge of Sanity, but with a bit more technical flair, with two short, crushing breakdowns (the death metal kind, not the scene variety) thrown in the middle. After a somber clean guitar section and a few winding guitar melodies, Fredrik and Andreas charge into a furious guitar duel, quickly trading off solos between each other.
Anata’s place as one of the best in the technical death metal field would truly be recognized on their next album, but that’s for another review. This is the album where Anata found their sound that they would stick to and evolve from in future efforts, and this album should belong in the hands of anyone who enjoys technical/progressive death metal.