ANATHEMA


"A Natural Disaster" (KOCH; 2004)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

As much as I enjoyed Anathema's 2001 release "A Fine Day To Exit" it never made it back into my CD player after my review responsibilities for it were finished. "A Natural Disaster," however, is entrancing from the start and I fully expect this disc to stay in rotation for quite a while.

Anathema's melodic misery just sounds right on "A Natural Disaster" for it strikes a chord between sounding mellow and being highly emotional at the same time. The guitars are brought to the forefront more than on "A Fine Day To Exit" which leads to some impressive results. The melodies are captivatingly morose (if such a thing is possible) and the band seems to have latched onto an intoxicating vibe that is present throughout "A Natural Disaster."

Every track is great in its own way, but a few are worth describing. "Are You There" gathers the essence of Peter Gabriel's softer work and filters it through the Anathema lens with impressive results. The energetic "Pulled Under" evokes the kind of hopelessness you expect from the doom genre, but you've not quite heard a sound like this song in a long time. The title track features female vocals for a suitable change of pace. The subtle grandeur of "Violence" is a fitting end to this near masterpiece.

"A Natural Disaster" is a thorough success on all levels and a fine complement to the wonderful "Judgement." It's not a return to form as such, but rather a return to greatness.

"A Natural Disaster" was produced by Anathema and Dan Turner.

Anathema: Vincent on vocals and guitars, Danny on guitars, keyboards, and vocals, Les on keyboards and programming, Jamie on bass and programming, and John on drums.

For more information visit http://www.anathema.ws


"A Fine Day To Exit" (KOCH; 2001)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Anathema, a long way from their precursory doom-laden days, continue to evolve in a path that is so unconventionally un-metal it'll blow your misconceptions of the genre way off the beaten path (and I mean WAY off). Anathema are more expert in the emotional style of metal currently performed by bands like Katatonia and Amorphis than in the doom style once plied by themselves, My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost. But don't let that ruin your idea of what good music can be.

"A Fine Day To Exit," Anathema's sixth full-length effort, provides over an hour's worth of music that is perhaps a bit more raw than the studied, refined approach of "Judgement," but in a folky, more traditional manner. Continuing the trend mastered on "Judgement," Anathema make melody the prime moving force of the songs. It would not be unfair for me to compare "A Fine Day To Exit" with the likes of Screaming Trees' "Dust" especially on the opening track "Pressure." It's not very metal, mind you, but a very good song in every way imaginable. Just as Screaming Tree's "Dust" seemed complete despite its unconventional ways, so to does "A Fine Day To Exit" elicit a feeling of whole-ness that seems natural and effortless.

"Outside Inside" definitely has vocals like the Cure's Robert Smith which ought to tell you have far Anathema have come from the growling days of the full-length debut "Serenades." "Panic" is a romp unlike any other song on "A Fine Day To Exit" although it in no way unearths the band's doom days of yore. "Release" is quite indicative of how immediately likeable most of the tracks on this disc really are.

While the music tends to fade away into the background like a dreamy sequence of stream-of-conscious white noise, vocalist Vincent Cavanagh does a stellar job melding the lyrics into the melodic tapestry of the songs' fabric.

"A Fine Day To Exit" is a fine effort, yet I don't think it is up to par, as was "Judgement." 

"A Fine Day To Exit" was produced by Nick Griffiths (Chrome Molly, David Gilmour, Cozy Powell). Nick Griffiths' production effort is admirable and it's no surprise he's worked with Pink Floyd, David Gilmour, and Roger Waters in the past.

Anathema is Vincent Cavanagh on vocals, Danny Cavanagh on guitars, Les Smith on keyboards, and John Douglas on drums. George Roberts played bass on the "A Fine Day To Exit" sessions. 

For more information visit http://www.anathema.ws


"Serenades" (Futurist/Peaceville; 1993)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Anathema is a Liverpudlian doom band in the vein of early My Dying Bride. This 1993 debut showcases the band's ability to mix the hauntingly gorgeous with the morosely desolate. Better overall efforts would follow in the form of 1996's "Pentecost III" and 1997's "Eternity," but "Serenades" stands on its own as a doom laden work.  

Not content to stick with the tried-and-true doom formula, Anathema break out a number of stylistically varied pieces to make "Serenades" an interesting listen. "Sleepless," while a bit like the English alternative music scene (for instance, like The Cure) has a crushing riff and lead guitar that drowns the listener along with the depressing lyrics. Anathema do a complete 180 with "J'ai Fait Une Promiese" - I dare anyone to find a prettier piece of music (Ruth's voice is as frail and delicate as you'll find).  The lyrics are not particularly concrete or rooted in reality. The lyrics, however, paint pictures of downright sorrow even despite the fact that the words are not particularly specific. The vocals range from an earthy growl to more purposeful screams. 

My only complaint is that the overall presentation is a bit complicated at times - there's too much going on. Most doom is effective when the sparse instrumentation and lack of disorder allows the songs to create their own space and moods. 

This version of "Serenades" contains one bonus track and the "Crestfallen" EP. Three of these tracks are more like slow, sludgy Slayer than pure doom; "Everwake" is an acoustic guitar exception and "Crestfallen" being a piano interlude that hints at the traditional doom style found on "Serenades"). Apparently there is a 2 CD version of this disc available that has a 23 minute song that is worth hearing; seems this "American" version of the CD was cut to one disc to cut costs - the fans lose again when labels make financial decisions. Various production credits go to Anathema and Hammy for all 14 tracks. 

Anathema is Darren on vocals, Daniel and Vincent on guitar, Duncan on bass, and John on drums. Ruth contributed a smattering of vocals.  Duncan gets credit for the majority of the songwriting. 

For more information visit http://www.anathema.ws


Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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Copyright 2004 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 09 Apr 2017 12:09:58 -0400.