Anathema - A Natural Disaster CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

3.85 | 464 ratings

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3 stars After a stellar string of albums, A Natural Disaster comes off slightly disappointing. At its best this is still compelling melancholic rock, but on the whole there is too much average and sub-par material to list amongst Anathema's best.

The opening is very strong. Harmonium is a great textured rock. Similar to the previous album, the arrangement is rich with guitar effects and background synths. But it also brings back a heavier theme into Anathema's sound, a clear nod to their doom past. Next on are the two highlights of the album. Balance is a brooding crescendo that amounts to uncontrollable washes of sound on Closer. Both are very emotive pieces, featuring a watery organ sound that reminds me of Zeppelin's No Quarter. Closer is the most adventurous, with a repetitive mantra of uncanny vocoder voices. The discharge at the end is quite intense.

Unfortunately, the album loses its grip from then on. Are You There is a nice song bound to please many listeners but it has never done much to me, a bit too plaintive really. Childhood's Dream set a nice atmosphere, that could have worked if Pulled Under had been a stronger track. But the melodies have something too Roger Waters that I cant' put my finger on. Also the music isn't but a straightforward rocker without much interesting developments.

The title track is a delight though. Sung by Lee Douglas, the melodious female vocals are a relief after Cavanagh's rather grating tone on the preceding track. A Natural Disaster is rather sparse, slow bass chords and dry drums, the clean electric guitars add a minimal touch of minor chords. The gorgeous melody of the vocal gets all focus. Simply beautiful. Also Flying is a fine piece of mood rock, especially the gothic guitar lines at the end are very touching.

Electricity is an unexpected drop in quality. It's nothing bad but isn't this a Sigur Ross rip-off? The closing 10 minutes of Violence are completely redundant. It simply repeats the guitar lines from the last minutes of Flying on piano and gradually builds up to a short noisy climax in typical post-rock fashion. The last 6 minutes of it provide nothing more then a bit of loitering atmospheric piano and mellow synth strings.

I'd like to, but really can't give more then 3 stars. 4 would mean I rate it on the same level as Alternative 4, a landmark album that sits miles above this Natural Disaster. 3.5 rounded down will have to do.

Bonnek | 3/5 |


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