Some albums have a way of piquing one's interest at first spin, and leaving you wondering whether there is more to offer beneath the surface. After returning for additional spins new layers reveal themselves, and what you heard initially transforms from competent to splendid. Such is the case with "The Conductor's Departure" by Sweden's ANATA. Generally speaking, the style is technical death metal. More specifically, it is technical, but not overwhelmingly so, and unequivocally heavy, yet often oddly accessible.
Those with any exposure to Poland's plethora of accomplished death metal bands will constantly find themselves forgetting that ANATA is a Swedish group. The technicality of a DECAPITATED is present, although the textured percussion and serpentine flourishes reminds just as much of an act like YATTERING. Taking those Polish bands and blending in angular rhythms and a more dynamic approach to death metal that includes surprisingly melodic sections and flowing leads will give you a good idea of what to expect.
As alluded to earlier, the key to the album's success is the manner in which the band composes songs that bleed technical proficiency, but are crafted in such as a way as to keep the non-musician's interest. In some cases, especially on "The Great Juggler", the incorporation of a head-turning melody that builds from death metal explosiveness comes off effortlessly and causes one to pay even closer attention. "Downward Spiral into Madness" features a chorus that is downright catchy; swirling calamity subsides to reveal a growled "Downward spiral!" and a higher pitched "into Madness!" the latter re-launching the track into tech-death oblivion. Other songs provide loads of aural stimulation and teeth-rattling twists and turns. Cases in point are the way that "Disobedience Pays" combines fierce chugs and blasts, the circular lick on "Better Grieved than Fooled" that approaches the hypnotic, or the manner in which "Complete Demise" crushes in a more traditional Polish death metal sense. Through each song is woven a tapestry of meandering bass licks and colorful drumming.
One of the better tech-death albums you will hear this year, "The Conductor's Departure" demonstrates that technicality combined with careful arranging can result in an album that appeals to a wider variety of death metal fans than just the tech-heads. Few will claim the album to be a trailblazing effort, but many will applaud the band's compositional prowess. Good stuff.