Anata – The Conductor’s Departure – 4/5
Judging by the distinct lack of Tech Death that I review for this blog, I think if I pointed out that it wasn’t my genre of choice it would be something of an understatement. So take that as you will – whether this is a gem is a sea of mediocrity, or the-odd-one-out in terms of how the genre should be played – but irrespective of personal feelings, this is one album that has genuinely impressed me. Defying the convention of trying to ‘better’ past works in the genre by ‘out-brutalling’ the other, playing faster, tuning deeper and grunting more emphatically, they have taken ‘technical’ to the more literal meaning it once held. Interspersed with chaotic harmonies and subtle polyrhythms (where different instruments have different beat patterns), a delightful contrast emerges between the gentle atmospheric passages and the more dissonant and aggressive, not only resulting in a piece that truly feels fitting to be called technical, but not without a distinct melody presenting itself.
With the rapidly shifting pace the fact that the drums manage to keep up feels impressive in itself, but they go far beyond simply playing a beat. With a variety of tempos they complement the phenomenal guitar work, helping to break up the track and provide a difference in the aggressive feel of the passage. Sharply produced they are robbed of some of their raw aggression but this can take nothing away from their creativity. The vocals present the main weak point, failing to deliver on anywhere near the variation of the rest of the album and resulting in a monotonous affair that all too readily loses all focus. Whilst he often sounds genuinely enraged, and not simply providing unemotional growling, this could be an instrumental album and I wouldn’t notice much of an impact on the end result.
Once again the show is stolen by the impressive guitars – the bass sadly relegated to the back, whilst his presence may be felt more in a live setting here he contributes little – the weaving dual leads providing an unrelenting array of riffs; carefully balancing use of tremolo with alternate styles and paces, a variety of scales seem to be used to lend a indescribable originality, and often utilising time signatures to perform slight variations on the main structure, they create a fluidly evolving passage, maintaining a memorable melody that never feels overplayed. Even including a ‘breakdown’ of sorts in most tracks, here it succeeds in allowing a slower passage to present itself, worked within the composition in such a manner so as to not feel out of place, contrasting the more upbeat normality of the track in question to emphasise the difference, altogether resulting in a more chaotically dissonant sound.
The tempo will constantly shift, the beat pattern will never stay the same for long and each dissonant melody is produced in such a glorious way as to allow that to come through without robbing it of its aggression. Whilst not everything works, some riffs coming across entirely unmemorable forcing you to wait for the next section, this for me is what Tech Death should all be about; not simply showing off how fast you can play but creating a truly chaotic beauty that can be listened to over and over without becoming tiring.