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Anathema - Alternative 4 CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

4.05 | 614 ratings

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3 stars Too much gloom with not enough doom.

On the whole, this is a very aesthetically pleasing album. All of the melodies and harmonies are finely crafted to make for a very smooth listen. But there is nothing here that makes me think 'wow, this is great stuff!' There are, perhaps, a few moments that hint at amazing climaxes (the high point of Re-Connect, the climatic melody of Regret) but it all falls a little short.

One of the big problems I have with this album, admittedly, is the lyrics. I'm not against depressing lyrics - they can make a good song great, when done right - but I'm also an advocate of the old writer's rule 'show, don't tell.' Admittedly, musicians aren't writers, and songs don't give as much leeway for literary greatness as regular poets would have to work with. But I also think you can start off a song better than 'Life has betrayed me once again.' The exception here, I think, would be the track Inner Silence, which is beautiful both lyrically and musically, and is probably my favorite song on the album. Other than that, most of the lyrics here are sort of overly bleak, which would be great for doom metal, a genre devoted to taking sorrow to extreme, but not so much for the music here. It just makes it all seem sort of shallow.

This album sort of marked a transition point for Anathema. Their previous album, Eternity, grasped to the final threads of their doom metal passed, but on Alterative 4 they were completely gone. Musically, anyway. They were now transitioning into something more similar to atmospheric rock, which I think they really mastered later on, but not here. This is a decent start to the band's new phase, but it was not their best moment. That would come on their following album, Judgment.

If you're not looking for a progressive masterpiece, but just maybe some really pretty rock music, I would recommend this album. The music here is undoubtedly pretty, but there's not much depth to it. Not yet.

Sowilo | 3/5 |


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