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Anathema - Alternative 4 CD (album) cover

ALTERNATIVE 4

Anathema

 

Experimental/Post Metal

4.09 | 474 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Negoba
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Well Written Modern Hard Rock

Anathema began as a sandpaper throated doom metal band that has slowly transformed into a more straightforward rock band with some atmospheric and gothic elements. Probably their best outing is this, ALTERNATIVE 4. At this point the doom elements are completely abandoned, all vocals are cleanly sung, and the songwriting is tight and user friendly. The Pink Floyd influence that had been sneaking in comes to full force on this album, including two cover tracks on the re-release. This happens to be my favorite Anathema album, but I continue to scratch my head regarding the Prog factor here.

Some of the songs are extremely straightforward, though catchy, hard rock. "Fragile Dreams" is the big opener here and it is straight out of the 90's playbook. "Re-Connect" is much more interesting, and is in fact my favorite Anathema song in their entire catalog. The spooky low harmony and throbbing pulse answer the part of me that liked Fields of Nephilim, Sisters of Mercy, and Type O Negative's "October Rust." Anathema has brought in sounds from a variety of genres that were all channelling the same emotion, and the result is very satisfying. Vincent Cavanaugh's voice draws on both Pink Floyd singers, and then adds a touch of goth without getting into cartoonish vampire. (I happen to like that style, but it is a caricature.)

Needless to say, the mood of all of these songs is dark. Depressive themes of loss and occasionally anger (which is a nice change of pace) are certain to appeal to a certain teen angst mindset. Unlike the following album, JUDGEMENT, this mood doesn't get oppressive to the point of stagnation. The songwriting and arranging on this album are much better. Sections have variation while melodies have thematic movement that retains the listeners interest. Low male harmonies (an element I'm a huge sucker for) are used intermittently to great effect.

Perhaps you had to be on board at the time this album came out. The ideas may have been fresh in 1998. But everything that is interesting here has been borrowed and expanded in the intervening years. I'd much rather listen to Riverside, who clearly derive from Anathema. That band just has so much more going on in the music. But when I do have an urge to listen to the parent band, ALTERNATIVE 4 is my choice.

Good, but non-essential at best.

Negoba | 3/5 |

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