Tech Death Thursday: Anata
What’s this? The criminal maniac is doing a write up on a tech death band? You’re not Jack Bauer. You don’t even like tech death. What is going on?
Well the answer is simple, citizens. Me and supercop Bauer had a meeting, in which, surprisingly,we didn’t try to shoot each other, and came to a quid pro quo deal. I told him of the existence and workings of a huge and dangerous homegrown terrorist cell residing at a secret location somewhere in the Northeast who have plans to kill the President and prominent members of the Senate. This group has deemed my weapons too expensive even though they are of good stock and mostly untraceable, and have instead bought tons from my competitors. I couldn’t let that stand. So I figure instead of wasting manpower why not get someone else to eradicate them? In exchange he has allowed me to do this week’s TDT to expose you to what I think an ideal tech death band is.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy what is considered classic tech; bands like Atheist, Demilich, and Nocturnus. And Mr. Bauer has certainly put me on to a couple of decent modern bands in the genre since I started writing for this blog, but for the most part the genre in its current form is as appealing to me as the prospect of wearing Raymond Cocteau’s stupid kimonos; too goddamn colorful with no feeling or sense of organization behind the patterns. Every time I listen to a band like Born of Osiris I feel like putting a drill through my brain. Yes the pun was intentional and terrible, and still less lame than the majority of modern tech death. Really, there are only three or four big modern bands that I like, and I’m going to talk about one of them here.
Actually Varberg, Sweden four piece (currently trio) Anata are not modern at all; they formed in 1993. But in my opinion they perfectly embody what modern tech should be. While they have had a number of shifts in lineup, they are and remain the brainchild of guitarist/vocalist Fredrik Schalin. They have two demos, a split with black/death Swedes Bethzaida, and four full lengths under their belt, the latest being 2009’s The Conductor’s Departure. Supposedly they already have a new album completely finished, but they can’t release it because Earache are a bunch of wieners that have the band stuck in a limbo in which they can’t release a new album or leave the label. This is fair how?
Now why do I love Anata so much? The basic answer is that they are a tech death band that hasn’t forgotten the “death” part of their name. If Cryptopsy’s …And Then You’ll Beg had not-shitty production and vocals that didn’t suck. Or if early At the Gates and Morbid Angel (before they started killing cops) had a one night stand, the result would sound similar to these guys. I prefer bands of this ilk that don’t shun the brutality in exchange for guitar acrobatics, or rather balance them out far better. It’s a cliche thing to say concerning this genre now, but Anata play songs with emotion and feeling that don’t sound like a fucking computer programmed data into a circuit board and spat out second rate chords and shitty sweeping. The riffs that Schalin and former co-guitarist Andreas Allenmark come up with don’t melt faces so much as vaporize them into a fine white powder. They have plenty of fretboard play, this is a tech death band after all, but they counterbalance it with some great mid-paced sections and melodic passages that one wouldn’t expect to find in a band this brutal (listen to this for proof of both in one song). This is combined with a fantastic guitar tone that bleeds menace right from the amps. Another highlight is the drums. Conny Petersson’s work on the skins is top notch. While he is no Kollias or Proscriptor or Roddy, he still tears into his kit like the fat kids tore into that first pack of Twinkies the day Hostess brought them back. He has this technique on the first two albums that, while not quite a blastbeat, is still pretty fast. A perfect example of this can be found in the song below at 1:50
Pretty awesome right? It’s not as prominent on the later two full lengths but it’s there if you look.
So where should you start with this band? While sophomore album Dreams of Death and Dismay is my favorite of theirs, newbies should start with the Conductor’s Departure, as it is their most fully realized record, combining all of the elements of the first three into a solid techy concoction. The aforementioned Dreams and debut The Infernal Depths of Hatred are more raw and death metally but have plenty of guitar wizardry to be awed by. Third album Under a Stone With No Inscription has the band at their most tech. It’s good but easily my least favorite. Still it’s worth checking out and has probably their most well-known song “Entropy Within.” No matter which album you listen to first, do yourself a favor and check out this band. And to all aspiring tech-death bands, listen to this band’s discography to learn how to do your genre properly and not suck. As an introductory course I’ll leave you with this gem off Conductor’s.
Until next time flushers, stay tech. Am I doing it right Bauer? I don’t fucking know.
PS: Please let them release a new album Earache. Don’t make me have to come find you.