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Anathema - Eternity CD (album) cover

ETERNITY

Anathema

 

Experimental/Post Metal

3.65 | 253 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Anathema shock. they're very good!

Between 1992 and 1995, Anathema released two full albums and two well filled EPs. With their doom laden heavy instrumental sound and growled vocals, they appeared to have set out their stall and defined the path they would take throughout their career. People like myself found their works frustrating as they hinted at great potential but ultimately disappointed. Nothing prepared any of us though, including their most devoted fans, for what was to happen in 1996.

The line up remained unchanged for the recording of "Eternity", but the reality is this is a completely different band. Suddenly, Vincent Cavanagh discovers he is actually a highly capable singer while the band as a whole reveal a starling capacity to create melodic masterpieces. There is no question of the band compromising their values or selling out, but this is the equivalent of Pink Floyd metamorphosing from the band which made "Ummagumma" to the creators of "Dark side of the moon".

The opening "Sentient" signals the change straight away, with beautiful piano and weeping guitar combining over a lush mellotron like base. The track is slightly reminiscent of Marillion's "Pseudo silk Kimono", in texture if not melody. This becomes "Angelica" where we find a continuation of the wonderful guitar sounds. As we brace ourselves from the inevitable growling to shatter the magnificent introductory moments, we are presented with delightfully melodic vocals. I still find it hard to restrain my unfettered joy in Anathema's decision to take such a bold step at this stage in their career.

Even when the pace is lifted and the atmosphere is sharply altered for the hard rocking "The beloved", melody and fine vocals remain the order of the day. The arrangements are admirably inventive and tightly performed. The first of three tracks to bear the album's title runs in all to almost 6 minutes. The choral synths, female backing vocals and gothic atmosphere combine to create a track which has all the hallmarks of a Sisters of Mercy number, it could even be Wayne Hussey singing! There is no direct connection between the three "Eternity's", part two being an atmospheric instrumental coda to part 1.

The next surprise is the inclusion of a cover version of the David Gilmour/Roy Harper song "Hope". This starts with a poetic recital leading to magnificent bass laden number with a quite astonishing vocal performance. As Vincent sings "I wanted to live forever" the quivering of his voice is charged with emotion and power. Why would anyone with such a fine voice waste so many years growling!

"Suicide veil" has more in keeping with the old Anathema in terms of style and instrumental sound, the raw emotion being brought out far better by the sung vocals. "Radiance" builds from a goth like start to a climactic conclusion, the Mission/Sisters of Mercy comparison remaining entirely valid. "Far away" is strongly reminiscent of Porcupine Tree, a band Anathema have been closely associated with over many years. The vocal style on this song is that of Steve Wilson, especially on more recent Porcupine Tree albums.

The final "Eternity" track is by far the hardest, venturing even closer to the style of previous releases. "Cries on the wind" prolongs the doomy mood with ultra-heavy guitar sounds prevailing. The instrumental "Ascension" which closes the album takes us back to the haunting piano atmosphere of the start.

The re-released version of the CD includes three bonus tracks. Two of these are acoustic workings of tracks on the album, while the third is a live rendition of "Angelica". I find myself preferring the acoustic renditions of "Far away" and "Eternity part 3" which are after all the heaviest tracks on the album.

This is the album Anathema had threatened to make right from the start. Those of us who saw the potential in their early albums but were left disappointed by them have been rewarded beyond our dreams here. There is still a little way to go to attain the heights the band would reach on later albums, but "Eternity" represents a massive change for the band and one of the most admirable improvements in the history of prog.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |

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