|Review: Anata - Under A Stone With No Inscription|
|Under A Stone With No Inscription|
Label: Wicked World Records
Year released: 2004
Genre: Death Metal
Review online: April 28, 2009
Reviewed by: Nahsil
for:Under A Stone With No Inscription
Swedish Death Metal is many things, the least of which, unfortunately, is innovative. If it's not Entombed, it's In Flames. If it's not of the oldest school, then it's probably Gothenburg or Gothenburg-influenced. Anata are an exception to this norm, and I love exceptions. Hard to categorize in a single breath, Anata started out as a rather atmospheric Death Metal band and have evolved into a machine more technical and unrelenting, albeit one with drive and purpose, unlike many of their "tech death" contemporaries. They've always had in their possession the ability to write intriguing songs, no matter the style. I'm not completely averse to the notion that they may have "lost something" over the years, but whatever that something may be, it's a forgotten relic in my mind. Their early stuff is good, no doubt, but Under A Stone has strong merits of its own. The ingredients are close to the same: a lot of melody in the guitar work mixed with crushing riff patterns that refuse to conform to genre clichés, the latter of which is perhaps the highlight of Anata's musicianship. It's melodic, but it's still Death Metal, and it's nothing like other Swedish Death Metal.
This album is a winding maze of complex riffs, arpeggios and lead guitar, assisted by a drummer who rarely allows any ceasefire in the structured mayhem (not incessant blasting however). Vocally, Anata utilize a standard mid-range bark that rests safely between a yell and a guttural growl, when they aren't occasionally switching off to a higher-in-register shriek. The guitar tone is more sterile than might be expected, but compared to, say, post-Winds of Creation Decapitated, it's much more tolerable and even fits the character of the music. Anata aren't about being raw, dirty or evil like so many in the genre. Instead they've taken various elements from tech death – virtuosity, complexity – and combined them with regular Death Metal's sense of aggressive composition. In other words, they're technical but not for technicality's sake.
Praise aside, the album isn't flawless. I said that Anata had intriguing songwriting, and I wasn't lying, but it doesn't always measure up. The album has a number of highlights and no obvious shortcomings, but I can rarely sit through all forty-five minutes without needing a break. This is partly because of how assaulting it is, but also because, and this is my opinion here, they aimed too high with their goals. It takes an insane amount of talent to fill an album with guitar melodies and have every one of them remain interesting, unique and re-listenable. Anata are immensely talented, but every band has their limit. Even though they do slow it down on occasion and introduce other elements that break the tedium, Under A Stone is still hard to stomach in its entirety. Some songs are more forgettable than others; oftentimes I'd rather skip to the ones I recognize and enjoy the most than leave the player unattended. Then again, that could be said of many albums!
Anata are not perfect, but they are a band that stands out, and I welcome those.
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