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Anathema - Distant Satellites CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

3.65 | 463 ratings

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5 stars 4.7 Stars.

Distant Satellites is their 11th album and marks a significant change from their last album Weather Systems. I was initially very impressed with their last effort due to its high emotional intensity. But that feeling quickly went as the songs were just too similar to each other to give any lasting appeal. Fortunately the band have learnt from their mistakes and created something that will retain my interest for the foreseeable future

WS consisted of mainly positive and life affirming tracks that started slow and then reached a grand climax at the end. DS has songs of the same nature (such as The Lost Song trilogy), but they also draw from everything they have done in their past (excluding the first 2 albums) to create one of their most diverse records. Only A Natural Disaster has more variations in styles however unlike that album DS hangs together and has a united identity instead of being a collection of songs. All of the songs on DS try to give an epic feel, however they use very different genres and methods to add variation and unpredictability to this album .

The sound of DS can be split into 3 different styles. The first style is the energetic Prog-Pop style they used heavily on WS. The Lost Songs and Arial belong to this style. These songs begin slowly with either a repeated melody or with strings. Both Vincent and Lee are excellent at expressing their emotions and both are allowed to shine. The song then builds in intensity and noise and then reaches a climax which is often drawing on the load parts of Post-Rock.

So how have they progressed this sound since WS so that it does not sound like a clone? Well for one thing they are no longer just doing happy songs. In fact almost all the songs on DS are tinged with some sadness and melancholy. This adds some depth to the songs and more importantly individuality, something WS seriously lacked.

The second type of songs here (Dusk (Dark Is Descending), Anathema and You're not alone) are similar to that found in the Judgement-A natural Disaster era. Fans of the old Anathema should have a lot to enjoy here as they have the intensity and depressing nature that was so essential to their sound back then. However unlike those songs the band have picked up more ideas which gives these songs a more unique feel and it lets the band be more experimental at the same time.

I want to focus on the song Anathema itself a bit as I see it as one of the best if not the best song they have ever done. Its a good thing that I and many fans feel this way because naming a song with the band name this late in their career is full of risk. It has to be excellent otherwise its a huge embarrassment for them. But they really deliver with Vincent giving every bit of emotion he has and it also has one of their most intense and heavy instrumentals ever (outside of their doom material). They really hold nothing back and bring back that Metal which has been dormant in them for so long. General Prog fans should really like this one, you cannot get any more epic than this!

The third and final style is the use of electronic rock and ambient which the band have never really done before and so is new territory for them. These songs do not obey the slow build-up rule and are allowed to go wherever the song should go to be more artistically satisfying. I hope that the band continues to explore this area more in the future because they are very capable with this genre and can combine it well with Post-Rock.

Musically this is one of the best albums they have ever done. My only real complaint on DS is the lyrics, which are a bit hit and miss. They are too clichéd and do not have the same raw power that albums like Alternative 4 and Judgement did.

So why am I giving this masterpiece status? Partly because the band have created a album that has the best elements of their entire discovery onto one album while still keeping a common thread thought the album. Partly because apart from the lyrics there are no real weak parts in this album. But mainly because this album manages perfectly to be both accessible and adventurous. They seem to have got both the complexity and emotional balance just right. Up until WHBWH Anathema have always had a bleak and depressing atmosphere. They removed most of it in their last two albums which were successful, but it was beginning to wear itself thin. Now on DS they have got the best of both worlds and this feels like the most complete release they have done in a long time.

Right now I feel that this is the best album they have ever done. I might change my mind over time (after all Judgement and WHBWH are amazing albums and I have not had this album for very long), but I'm confident that this will always be a 5 star album. Unless you are a fan of metal this is where Prog will most likely be going for the foreseeable future. Its highly accessible for wider audiences but at the same time is original and a major step forward for the band.

LakeGlade12 | 5/5 |


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