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Anata at their most technical. - 79%

Andromeda_Unchained, November 29th, 2011

Album number three sees Swedish technical death metal maestro's Anata, at their dizzying technical peak. You could kind of tell they were pushing towards this sound on their previous release Dreams of Death and Dismay, although this time around they really took the proverbial biscuit.

On the one hand, I admire this release as it manages to avoid a lot of the modern technical death metal pitfalls, they don't rely on sweep picking and running through scales to substitute for actual riffs, and when the band do delve into lead guitar work it is all the more memorable. Restraint is a word that should be in every guitarists vocabulary, and as far as lead guitar work goes Fredrik and Andreas show that elusive trait.

However, on the other hand the band show next to no restraint in arrangement this time around. Which serves both positive and negative to the overall sound on Under a Stone with no Inscription. This is fun, energetic, and very nearly over-the-top, yet as a result it sounds a little too schizophrenic places. Opener "Shackled to Guilt" is a perfect example of this, showing the band in crazed hyperactive form.

Fortunately, amongst the mayhem is the Anata I came to love on their debut album. You can hear nods to the melodies that made The Infernal Depths of Hatred so special. Also detected are the bands Swedish routed Morbid Angel riffs, which are utilized to devastating effect in "Entropy Within" which also bashes out some meticulously calculated lead guitars. "Under the Debribs" is another of the more note-worthy offerings here, with some well developed riffs, as well as good use of blasting and pyrotechnical guitar work.

This is the Anata album you could give to the Necrophagist kids, who would be guaranteed to make a mess of their underwear. Hyperactive music, for the instant gratification needs of your modern technical death metal fan. However, considering this is Anata, there is enough weight to the arrangement, as well as depth and to an extent dynamics to keep the thinking man...well thinking. Both instantly accessible, as well as highly worthy of repeated listens. A worthy addition to the Anata backlog, although I really wish they would go back to the style of their debut.

Lacking That Certain Intensity... - 37%

Angry_Citizen, May 20th, 2010

Some time back, as I was just getting into death metal, I was directed towards what I was assured would be a wonderful technical death metal band: Anata. At the time, I was also getting recommendations for such classics as Suffocation, Morbid Angel, Atheist, Death, and Obituary. It is lucky that I chose to go for old school death metal before trying to get into modern tech death bands, because if I'd listened to Anata first, I doubt I would have an extensive collection of death metal today.

Anata is typical of technical death metal bands. The music is nearly impossible to replicate, and requires extensive knowledge of music theory just to decipher. The band members are clearly talented. But as is sadly common in modern tech death, instrumental prowess does not equal good music.

For the longest time, I sat and pondered just what was wrong with Anata. It has everything. Decent drumming, clear, non-staticky production, an audible bass (audible bass in my death metal? get out of here! crazy kids...), and remarkable guitar talent (seriously, they were playing things in perfect time). As I listened over and over, it finally dawned on me. It wasn't just one thing, it was a whole host of things.

First, the guitar tone. See, when you get into classical death metal, you just can't get away from guitar tones. From Suffocation's bottomless pit of downtuned guitars, to Trey Azagthoth's famous seething, ultra-muted tone, to Atheist's audible razor blades, to the Hoffman brothers' almost-percussive sound, classical death metal is filled with the most vicious, most ear-annihilating tones imaginable. Anata's tone, on the other hand, turns the music into a droning borefest. Whenever I imagine Anata using, say, Chuck Schuldiner's tone in Human, all I can envision is a sick, disgustingly powerful death metal record, despite the flaws yet to be revealed in this review. It seems Anata were trying for a tone conducive to melody, but that's no excuse for having a limp-dick sound. Bands like Entombed and Dismember managed to have the famous 'chainsaw' tone while retaining their melodic undertones, especially in their solos. -30 points

Second, the growls. Now, weak, droning growls are not in-and-of-themselves music-killers. You can still have a really good death metal album even if your vocals aren't up to snuff. Examples include Cynic's masterpiece Focus, and Necrophagist's Onset of Putrefaction. The fellow in Anata, try as he might, cannot seem to replicate anything remotely associated with force. It is not particularly deep; it is not particularly harsh; it's this weird cross between a rasp and a growl. Like if Altars-era David Vincent melded with Effigy-era Frank Mullen. Now, while that may have all kinds of old school deathheads drooling in anticipation, I can assure you that the result is not anything like what you expect. -10 points

Third, and finally, the riffs. As any death metal purist will tell you, you can have the sickest guitar tone, the best vocals in the world, and Pete Sandoval himself operating on a combination of crystal meth and three pots of coffee, and you still won't have an awesome death metal record. Fundamentally, metal is still a riff-based form of music. This applies to thrash, death, black, even prog. If the riffs aren't there, then your record is going to flop. Riffs can be anything. It can be Immolation's random-at-first-glance single-high-note riffs with lots of trem picking. It can be something as slow and devastating as an Obituary power chord. Whatever the case, if you make your riffs COMPLETELY random, then they're NOT RIFFS. Now, on first inspection, this may simply be a case of tech death riffs flying over my head. It wouldn't be the first time it's happened. But no, I don't think it's unfair to criticize a band for having no discernible riffs whatsoever. Origin, another tech death band, can play their guitars at light speed and STILL have discernible riffs. There is no excuse for this. Metal is riff-based. If you don't want riffs, then go play in a cheesy math rock band. -30 points

Now, though I raked Anata over the coals, there is still some good in the album. As I mentioned before, the band is clearly skilled at their instruments. But like Brain Drill, they just need someone who can write songs for them. I still wouldn't like their tone or their vocals, but at least they'd be an enjoyable listen every once in a while. Their drumming isn't awful. It wasn't blast-beat-oriented, which is a relief. +7 points

All I can say for Anata is, judging by the high reviews here, it's clearly a love-'em-or-hate-'em approach. But before you buy, check them out on youtube, or procure samples in other ways.

Silent, choked, they are meant to be - 85%

autothrall, March 23rd, 2010

The Conductor's Departure may have been their milestone thus far in technical, progressive death metal, but with 2004's Under a Stone with No Inscription, it is clear the band were already well underway. What has always interested me about Anata and a handful of peers (Spawn of Possession, etc) is that they eschew the more prevalent tones found in most of the melodic Swedish death and the recently popular retro dimension, in favor of a lighter sound which gracefully encapsulates their rapid fire picking and progressive elements (but never lacks for brutality).

"Shackled to Guilt" launches at t minus zero to a series of fast and winding riffs interspersed over some marvelous chugs, all captured in sync by Conny Pettersson's flawless drumming. "A Problem Yet to Be Solved" begins by grinding you into dust before unleashing its adventurous guitar lines and über grooves. "Entropy Within" gets even better with its sick grinding grooves and playfully disturbing leads. "Dance to the Song of Apathy" is an excellent track, a pleasure if just to follow the guitars. The band gives no less than 100% across the ten tracks, and other standouts include "Leaving the Spirit Behind" and "Any Kind of Magic or Miracle".

Lyrically the band deals in philosophy and personal struggle more than severed limbs and mangled children. A breath of fresh air, and even if the lyrics aren't perfect, I do enjoy the metaphysical, motivational coach approach.

'I'm speaking of bringing the ground
Closer to your feet
Reducing the distance between
You and reality perceived
Let go and land in this image
of your consciousness
Ready to reconstruct'

The album has a crisp mix to it which allows the guitars to breathe. Leads wind over Fredrik Schälin's grunts while the drums create a maelstrom of percussive idea, and the band can change it up to an acoustic bridge (as in "Any Kind of Magic or Miracle") without losing any power. In the end I wasn't as enamored of this album as much as the later Conductor's Departure, but it's a great album to check out if you are interested in the brutality and technicality of death metal sans a lot of the gore. Anata never abuse or overuse their obvious ability, and the result is a near classic effort.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com

Not especially memorable - 55%

demonomania, April 19th, 2006

I'm not sure what it is about this album, but just about nothing sticks in my head after many listens. While Anata are damn good at what they do, and what they do is pretty unique from what I've heard, they just don't do it for me.

I am a fan of the more technical side of death metal, like Suffocation, Psycroptic, or even Deicide. And I like some of the more ferocious melodic Swedeath, like Hypocristy, Amon Amarth, or, uhhh, well that's all that comes to mind right now. Anata manage to mix these two styles - they sound like Psycroptic allowing At the Gates to sit in for a while - and the results should (given my previous statements) have been pleasing.

Instead, I find myself wondering what the hell song I am listening to quite frequently. Some, like Sewerages... and Dance... get me banging my head. But more often then not I look up and five tracks have gone by, and time that could have been spent listening to Grave is forever wasted. Often I hear a little part that is pretty sweet, and can nod along and appreciate the musical skills that are on display. None of it is enough to justify owning the album.

I think one of my biggest problem is that the vocal patterns remove any hope of giving each separate song a character. The vocals are switched between a mid-range growl and a higher screech (been done, but I like it). However, the lower-range vocals seem to follow the same pattern most songs, not really placing a special emphasis on any one word or chorus or anything. This is something that has to be worked on for the songs to be memorable. Also, the sheer variety of riffts seem too schizo at times, also adding to the feeling that you haven't listened to a single song or a collection of them. That doesn't make much sense. But this album seems to be buried under some songs with no conviction (get it?)

One of the best albums I've ever heard... - 99%

Etiam, November 3rd, 2005

...one of my top 3 all time.

It is not uncommon for a reviewer to be so zealously appreciative of an album that the reader just loses interest, because the fanboy writing style is painfully obvious, and the chances of an objective review are slim to none.

I'm trying to avoid that here, but it's very difficult. This album is honestly one of (if not the) best death metal albums I've ever come across. It's also one of the longest lasting albums at the top of my rotation. I'll burn through an album in a couple days, and not come back to it for months, having listened to it as much as I can without getting bored.
Anata never bores me. These guys are brilliant, plain and simple.

Each song is crafted with not only creativity and inspiration, but restraint. Despite the brutal tendencies of some of these songs, they don't flail about unnecessarily. This album is calculated and economical. A well-oiled machine that crushes your skull with just the right number of double-fisted whacks. The last album from these Swedes was also very mechanical, but it lacked the spirit of this album. The first album was the opposite- filled with spirit but a bit too raw. Combining the best of those two worlds, the product is lethal.

Each song has its fair share of blasting and chugging death metal riffs with competent but not overdone growlings. Then, unexpectedly and sometimes unobserved on the first few spins, a segue or fantastic and subtle riff slides into the structure of the song, changing its form and dynamic. A Problem Yet To Be Solved is a perfect example. Listening to this song morph from classic Anata technicality into a new, beautiful, and flowing form is fascinating.

Perhaps my favorite part about this album is how diverse it is without slapping you in the face about it. Elements of Gothenber, grind, straight up balls out blastbeats, technical "math" riffing, the shredding arpeggios. It's all here, but it's all woven into a distinctly Anata sound, making this one of the most diverse but also easily identifiable records I've come across.

And this is all before the last track, which is absolutely stunning. I'd lay down the money for this album if all I got was that last song. If you ever wanted to know how to write an epic death metal song while avoiding the sloppy or pretentious stigmas that bands like Nile get, listen to Any Kind of Magic Or Miracle. If you're paying attention, you'll be floored.

Each other song on this album fufills its purpose, and then some. There are no wasted tracks, no wasted lines, no wasted riffs, no silly interludes. This is heavy. This is metal. This is class. This is talent.
This is fucking Anata.

This has an inscrption alright: Awesome - 90%

Justin_Bork, January 3rd, 2005

Anata has always been something unique and awesome, and with Under a Stone With No Inscription, they just get better. This is a Technical Death Metal album, featuring a whole boat load of time signatures, tricky and complex riffs, with some fairly off timing drumming. Sounds alot like other bands on paper but it really isn't, this album is especially awesome. Killer brutal and thoughtful material, excellent performances and stellar production, one can't stress enough how exceptional the production is. Every instrument sounds perfect in the mix. The guitars are loud and winding, the vocals are just the right volume, and the drum sound is excellent. Song wise, has a few minor weakspots, and the best songs seem to have been placed at the albums forefront, but still, this is awesome Death Metal and shouldn't be missed.

Everything about this album sounds professional, this is, afterall a veteran band, and it shows in their sound. These guys know what they're doing. I see this as a modern Death Metal masterpeice, technical, brutal and interesting. Highly recommended for fans of Death Metal.

what can I say? this is just "sublime" - 95%

SoulSeekJay, July 7th, 2004

Anata's third album! Finally!

Some of you might know Anata from their "Dreams Of Death And Dismay" which was done by Relapse Records in the US. This four-piece definitely knows how to combine the destroying power of death metal with right-placed guitar harmonies.

Immediately Extol comes into my mind as a comparison but Anata head into a more brutal direction because they left out any clean singing parts. Both singers, Fredik (lead vocals/guitar) and Andreas (vocals/guitar) shout, scream and growl their lungs out.

Musically they play technical death metal combined with layered, razor-sharp, guitar leads and a lot speed-changes. Beside this they throw in some straight forward death metal parts with simpler riffs. In fact the combination of straight up death and the technical guitar riffing, the crazy stop-and-go parts and seriously rocking pieces made "Under A Stone With No Inscription" an extraordinary death metal record full of individuality. Yes uniqueness still exists in this "clayman" world.

Sophisticated song-structures that never relent on brutality. Favourite track of the album, among others is "The Drowning" that opens with mid-tempo melodic death, then increases in speed and at towards the middle of the song they play slow down-tuned atmospherical guitars , just to return yet again to a blistering attack. Impressive!! Anata can't (should'nt) go unheard!

A band that needs to be recognized! - 95%

SatanLaughs, March 14th, 2004

I had never even heard of Anata until I read an article describing their then upcoming release “Under a Stone with no Inscription”. The description was enough to compel me to buy it when it came out. And I am glad I did. I was immediately blown away by the sheer intensity of the opening track. Anata wasted no time with buildups or intros and began the 45-minute assault right off the bat.
This could easily be a generic death album, it seems to have all the ingredients, if it wasn’t for the fact that the band is forging in their own brutal direction. Fredrik Schalin avoids the all too common trap of current death acts in trying to mix the growling guttural vocals with pieces of melodic singing that has helped damage the reputations of In Flames and Soilwork. The vocals start out brutal and stay brutal through the entire album with screams, growls and grunts being the only thing accompanying his excellent “singing”. The instrumental work accompanies the singing (or vice versa) to help create a unique metal album. The guitars meld two distinct sounds. They demonstrate the quasi-melodic sounds of bands like the Haunted while at the same time combining that with the discordant screeching and wailing of bands such as Deicide. The drums are as fast as you’d expect combining the usual double bass with some work that should be featured as solos and the bass keeps the pace fast and unforgiving.
This CD has convinced me that Anata is a band worth paying attention to and belongs in the upper echelons of extreme music.