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One of the highlights of 2006 - 95%

asymmetricist, March 14th, 2007

The immediate stimulus to write this review was provided by the fact that some people have seen fit to give this a fairly low score, which is only further proof that genius is not appreciated by all. What's special about Anata is that they can't really be compared to other bands; there are plenty of blast beats, yes, and plenty of melodies too, but the songs don't sound at all like the scores of blasting or melodic bands that have flooded the death metal scene. Perhaps it's because the blast sections often have very melodic guitar work going on, or that the more obvious melodies are usually somewhat angular and go unusual places that are different to the usual melodeath progressions -at any rate, we're dealing with a genuinely unique album here.

Though I'm not going to go through all the songs, every song is different and has a character of its own. That's pretty rare in death metal today, and something that was lacking even in other good 2006 releases like Spawn of Possession's "Noctambulant". Whether it's the hocketing guitars on "Downward Spiral Into Madness", the shifts between asymmetrical grooves, unstoppable speed and emotionality in "The Great Juggler" or the slightly menacing introversion of the short instrumental "Children's Laughter", leading into the lyrical frenzy of "Renunciation" - every song is unique and rich in ideas and musicianship. The members of the band all stand out as masters of their craft, but the songs are no means written as technical exhibitions. In fact, they don't sound much like what's generally considered "technical" in death metal these days. They show the greatest taste, and everything that happens is in the interest of the songs, not the show. And the production really supports that, giving the guitars and bass a sound that is full and heavy, but refined enough to hear details - of which the bass has more than normal, with parts that are actually composed in their own right, rather than just doubling the guitars. And the drum sound is so punchy, but with real body, not the sharp clicking that's so common. They sound organic, but are as incisive as anything. And Conny Pettersson does a superb job, of course, adding plenty of intricacies here and there that lift his performance far above that of a mere death metal beat machine. The vocals are perhaps the only unexceptional thing here, but I don't have a problem with Schälin's voice at all. It's not very varied, but then it's not dominant here - in fact in "Better Grieved Than Fooled" we get a purely instrumental section of a couple of minutes, something that's not exactly standard practice.

So to conclude: this is a truly unique album that defies categorisation and displays the highest level of musicianship not simply in the sense of technical dexterity, but rather in compositional refinement, taste and imagination.