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Anathema - Alternative 4 CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

4.05 | 614 ratings

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4 stars Alternative 4 ? 1998

12 ? Best Song: Fragile Dreams

Oh, oh oh, I'm all a-fluster. This was originally the album that was recommended to me, but because I'm an OCD psychotic, I had to delve into their first records before getting to the 'good stuff'. I admit my insanity openly and without alarm. After all these years, maybe I always knew. This takes the full Tiamat swing and introduces gothic rock while taking all the singing to as much cleanliness as possible. The guitars are as melodic as hell, and can the chorus' vocal hook in 'Fragile Dreams' be beaten? Well, I suppose not any more than the violin/guitar melody could. Let me take a moment to ridicule All Music Guide once more by pointing out how they awarded Eternity with the highest 4 out of 5, but turn around and give Alternative 4 a depressing, mediocre 3, when it's anything but. Okay, so it's a tad generic, but that doesn't mean all generic music is inferior to any other form of music, but it doesn't help. It's not that they tried gothic rock, per se, but they added a vitriolic, roasting POP element, and I don't mean Nickelback (ugh), I mean accessible. It's in nearly ever second of 'Empty'. In fact, this makes me want to go back through my Riverside reviews and include a segment on how these types of bands influenced them. (But both of 'em owe Wildhone some backrent).

The guitars are never ever stupid and the group has wholly divorced all black metal, death metal, growling, and unnecessary abrasion. There are a few sparse and subtle piano lines, but it's never unctuous or derivative. It's not too long ? a practical length, and there are even a few commendable Pink Floyd covers tossed on to the end of my copy as a set of fun bonus tracks. But hey, don't think by not abrasive I mean wimpy and weak. The crushing power in the opening crack of 'Reconnect' is a pack of bricks. It's simply that they've accepted concision and organic energy into their paradigm. Very respectably so.

Alitare | 4/5 |


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