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The Great Jugglers - 94%

Tofumanchu, January 26th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2006, CD, Wicked World Records

The stone cold blue artwork of Anata's 4th album willfully perverts any preconceptions that maybe Schalin and his cohorts are heading for clinical methodology. Far from it, this is a turbulent, vivid, redolent and delectable offering. Once you accept the fact that it lacks the consistent extremity and pace of their excellent 3rd album, it transpires that this is a classic that rips your central nervous system apart then tenderly kisses your naked brain. It does this in a deceptively stealthy manner, striking like an assassin with a psychology degree.

Schalin is still the innovative overmind of this operation but the psychic link between himself and Allenmark is evolving still, displayed instantly via out-of-phase dual guitars that fade in from the start. This technique is used later during the first track after Andreas shrieks "Into madness!" to create a handsome turn-based harmony (although generally dual vocals are not used enough in this album). After this, the composition is kept fresh by jumbling previous riff orders, shuffling drum patterns and adding layers instead of direct repetition. The super-catchy but intimidating introduction to Complete Demise allows Pettersson to explore evolving drum territory, broken by churning melodic polyrhythms that Anata do so well. This track first employs the twinning of chunky Morbid Angel blast-supported mid-paced riffage to the swift elegance of dark Swedish death metal. Memorable tapping and hammering riffs abound in the third track, but there is a shocking downshift to a laid back interlude that slowly cancels inertial effects using a monolithic chug and wraithlike fastpicked melody.

The fifth and sixth tracks introduce a classic Kreator/Slayer vibe that fuses seamlessly with Anata's natural grandeur and lurching atonal grooving. Disobedience Pays is possibly the most byzantine and fret-wearing of all of Anata's output. It has a gyrating intro and an obscure rhythmic structure that mutates like an engineered adaptive nanovirus creeping and crunching towards dominance. The emotive and organic Children's Laughter is a worthwhile interlude prior to the glorious and warm Renunciation that ends on a soaring timeless melody. Finally, the title track, with its Rutanesque rotten majesty melting into a harmony of bubbling fluid, allows Pettersson and Drake to shed all constraints and allow their individuality to craft new dimensions around common intersection points rather than merely add weight to proceedings.

Affection for this album grows with every listen, as details crystallise and grow within the subconscious to form gems of power and polyphony. The sound and production is justifiably magnificent for this elite act who deserve to be held up as an example of what is great and good about the death metal genre.

[originally written for Diabolical Conquest webzine]