Innovation is a term often tossed around at will in the music world. Often times, progression and innovation are terms being heralded by bands who all, ironically enough, sound exactly the same. Technicality, much like the idea of innovation, has also seemingly run its course towards inertia. All the progressive and technical metal bands these days seem to be simply emulating another bands style, altering it ever so slightly, and calling it their own. Such is the case with the Dream Theater
clones, or the Necrophagist
, however, is not one of these bands.
- Fredrik Schälin - Vocals, Guitar
- Andreas Allenmark - Guitar, Backing Vocals
- Henrik Drake - Bass
- Conny Pettersson - Drums
Anata can be labelled as both melodic and technical death metal, though on this, their latest release, the band has toned the technicality down a notch. The melodic aspects of the album are vastly superior than one would expect. They don't simply toss in a few harmonised riffs (see: Gothenburg Death Metal), but rather they go the extra mile. The guitars are often focusing on counterpoints, so at times it will sound as if one intricate riff is being played with two guitars. Harmonically speaking, the band goes the atonal route, but as the instruments mesh together, they come out sounding brilliant.
Nearly every aspect of the album has left me astonished. By Death Metal standards, the album is fairly mid-tempo, though at times you'll find faster, blastbeat passages. While on the issue, I have to say that while no instrument rises higher than the other, the drums were the first thing I noticed. Conny Pettersson is quite frankly, a machine. His drumming is both varied and precise. His fills slide across all fours, from the toms to the snare to all of his cymbals in an instant, only to bring him back to a steady, constant beat. His use of double kick is original, he never holds one steady double kick pattern long enough to bore the listener. The time I realized just how amazing the drums were was at the end of the Children's Laughter
interlude. It's only ten seconds, but when I heard this, my jaw had to be pried off the ground. The easiest way to describe the drums would be to throw the variety of Neal Peart (minus the xylophone and windchimes) into a death oriented setting. When they're not focusing on atonal harmonics and counterpoints, the guitar pairing of Fredrik Schälin and Andreas Allenmark vary between frenetic riffing and an almost thrash-like sound, but don't be fooled, this is most definitely death metal. Fredrik Schälin not only handles guitar duty, but he's also the one barking out the vocals, so it would be interesting to see if he handles himself live as well as fellow tech-deather Muhammed Suicmez. The bass is also top-notch, and due to the outstanding production, it's perfectly audible. Valle Adzic did an outstanding job producing the album, and I feel it's some of the best production you could hope for with a technically inclined death metal album. Every instrument is crystal clear, audible, yet they all have their time to shine.
So many parts standout on this album, whether it be the almost Flight of the Bumblebee
like passage at the start of Better Grieved Than Fooled
, the moody and dark interlude Children's Laughter
, the unbelievably awesome riffing and soloing 6 minutes into the title track which leads to a wonderful drum solo, or the totally confusing Disobedience Pays
, you can count on being impressed. The closest comparison I would make is Spawn of Possession
, though I actually feel these guys do it better.
With their latest, Anata have challenged all the pre-conceived notions of what a technically inclined death metal album should consist of. By adding just the right touch of atonal dissonance, compositional dexterity, tasteful technicality and plenty of headbanging, these Swedes have set themselves apart from the pack, putting them in a league of their own. The Conductor's Departure
is quite easily one of the strongest Death Metal albums released all year. The album is layered, almost labyrinthine in scale, and so it may take a few listens to sink in, though I assure you it's worth the effort. Once this album hit me, let me tell you, it hit me
It's something new, and a lot of people won't like that, but to those who do, you will
be impressed. Anata has managed to use their musical knowledge to create something new, something outstanding.