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Anathema - We're Here Because We're Here CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

4.05 | 921 ratings

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4 stars Well, how truly frightening it is for a reviewer to review an album being the result of a collaboration between your #1 most beloved band ever - Anathema -, and the Head- Honcho of your nearly equally beloved #2, namely that band of a certain bloke named Steven Wilson (aka SW, aka the Master, aka El Maestro, etc.) - Porcupine Tree. I will try to find that fine-lined balance between silly fanboyism and being the overly-critical nitpicker, here. It won't be easy, as the expectation from a genuine Porkyheaded-Anathemaniac like me, is, of course, that this album should be some kind of an absolute EARGASM.

Well it's finally here now, after seven (eight?) long years for the wait. And, does it live up to expectations? I daresay it does.

Everyone even remotely interested in the story of Anathema should know their disaster- ridden tale by now, so I'll try and not come back to that. The most underrated band of the 1990's - and perhaps the 2000's as well? Yes, I happen to agree on that statement. It's pretty incredible that a band so overloaded with talent managed to keep on flying under the radar for some 20 years. But it's 2010 now, and I think things will start changing for Anathema. The band landed themselves a decent contract with Kscope records, leader in 'post-progressive sounds', and of course, having the name of one of the most celebrated musicians in contemporary progrock on the album's booklet as being the mixer of the material, might also be a bit of help in finally getting the deserved attention.

'Post-progressive' is indeed the adequate description for their music. Basically slow to mid- tempo, melancholic/atmospheric/spacy, very melodic, and well-cemented Walls of Sound - the Anathema-trademark - guided mainly by both (semi-)acoustic as well as heavy electric guitars, highlighted by eerie-sounding vocals.

Steven Wilson's influence is clearly audible, especially on those multilayered vocal arrangements - yes, with three great singers in the band (drummer John Douglas' sister Lee has finally 'officially' joined the band's ranks now), you'd be rather silly not to make use of that exquisite wealth! - as well as that there's a lot more piano/keyboards/orchestrations to be heard on this effort than on their previous ones, adding to a more 'elaborate' feel than ever before, if that makes any sense. Nevertheless, this is a true Anathema-album rather than the 8057634th Wilson-project.

Lyrically, this album is all about 'hope', dealing with personal failures and other disasters, and eventually, being able to overcome them - the key point being that "only you can heal your heal your life, only you can heal inside", but not without the help of those Angels That Walk Among Us - our friends, our loved ones. The mood is still dark & melancholic, but not depressive, imho - main composer Daniel Cavanagh himself calls it 'uplifting' and I think that's spot-on. I'd even like to go a step further and call it 'romantic', in the classical, 19th century art-wise meaning of the word.

Some notes on the individual songs:

Thin Air kicks off with a Daniel Cavanagh semi-acoustic guitarriff, and guided by a pounding rhythm reminescent of A Natural Disaster's 'Closer', builds into one of those typical Anathemanian 'wall of sound's. One of the most striking elements of their music immediately kicks in, namely the quality of the vocal work. Lead singer Vinnie seems to be getting better with every effort, and he's just perfect here, reaching high notes which I didn't really expect him to be able to, but he pulls it off wonderfully well.

Summernight Horizon Up-tempo, heavy, reminding of older work. Beautiful choir singing by 'all involved' on this one. This one will work very well at live performances.

Dreaming Light The most introverted song on the album, just a simple piano- & orchestra-driven tune, but what a vocal performance by Vinnie! He really outdoes himself on this one.

Everything If you'd have to choose a 'hit single' on this album, here it is, and fortunately the band decided on such. Melodic, positive, even 'happy'-sounding, this is Anathema at its loveliest by far, with excellent vocal performances by both Vinnie and Lee - they truly sound like angels, here!

Angels Walk Among Us is one of the many highlights, and lyrically, the key song on the album - emanating true Hope. A warm, uplifting-but-intense tune, guitar in the end reminds of the work on their imho best album ever, Judgement. Lovely singing by both Vinnie and Lee, and backing-vocals by HIM's Ville Valo, but to be honest, I would rather have heard Danny doing those parts. Nitpicking, here, don't mind me, here! It slowly dissolves into...

Presence ...and I actually take these two songs together as one major epic. - a melancholic, narrated story about mortality, hope, acceptance of fate... "Life is Eternal" Eternity, guided by a fantastic organ and real violins, beautifully sung by Lee towards the end.

A Simple Mistake introverted, dreamy vocal-guided song, the message of positivism not only being worded ("take a chance, or lose it all..."), but emanating from the music just the same. Excellent, very proggie, multilayered song, and if this doesn't move you, ask yourself if you've still got a heart beating in your body.

Get Off Get Out - the archetypical odd-ball song on this album (every Anathema album has one of those - and once again, it's written by drummer John Douglas), up-tempo rhythm, distorted vocals - in fact, very PT-like! It sounds like this song slipped from Steven Wilson's suitcase right onto this record of his friends... Not easy stuff, some fans might find some trouble getting into this one, but after quite a couple of tries, you'll find it actually works out very well.

Universal. Fantastic orchestral work, dark, doomy, epic, wall-of-sound, a genuine proggie 'epic'. Fantastic screaming guitar solo by Danny in the middle of the song, followed by heavy piano, culminating into the Anathema Wall of Sound again, cemented by meandering guitars. Yet another highlight of this album.

Hindsight And so we come to the end. Beautifully narrated vocals over a dreamy, atmospheric tune, built on a slow bass line, guitars all over the place, and a very Floydian guitar-solo by Danny in this lovely ending, which reminds me very much of the works of a band like Godspeed You!Black Emperor - no surprise, as that is one of Danny's favourites. Just lovely. The perfect conclusion to a genuine masterpiece.

Okay, the rating. For myself, I consider this one the second 5-star album from Anathema (after Judgement), but as I promised to keep the 'fanboyism' to a minimum, I'll give it a 4-star rating for the sake of so-called objectivity. Draw your own conclusions here. :D

Antennas | 4/5 |


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