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Anathema - Alternative 4 CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

4.05 | 614 ratings

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4 stars Where Eternity was an elaborate expression overflowing with keyboards and lead guitar work, Alternative 4 is much more minimal. This is a more stripped down approach that features straightforward songwriting, devoid of guitar solos and keyboard experimentation. This minimalism is also reflected in the stark packaging, which contains lyrics in regular typed font and an all white background. However, this in no way takes away any of the emotion or atmosphere this band has become known for, as every song contained herein is expressed with all the emotion and passion that any fan of Anathema has become accustomed to. In fact, there are moments throughout this album that remind me of The Silent Enigma's bitter despair, some of which are Anathema's most downtrodden emotional pieces. "Lost Control" and "Regret" are examples. "Shroud Of False" opens the album with piano and the words "we are just a moment in time...a blink of an eye...." paving the way for "Fragile Dreams" showcasing Vincent's amazing growth as a vocalist. Now three albums in as the frontman, here he comes across more confident and convincing than ever. He also writes his first complete song in the form of "Re-connect", and for a first attempt, it is very impressive indeed. "Empty" is a strange track for this band. Certainly one of Anathema's most accessible songs, the drum loop and oddly structured vocal phrasings took me by surprise, yet it eventually grew on me. "Inner Silence" is a beautiful expression of sorrow, in homage to the Cavanagh's deceased mother.

For Alternative 4, songwriting was handled separately, with bassist Duncan Patterson (who wrote over 60% of the material on this album), Daniel and Vincent each writing their own songs individually. No co-writing at all, which hinted at possible inner turmoil within the ranks. Original drummer John Douglas departed after Eternity and here is replaced by former Solstice drummer Shaun Steels. In any case, Alternative 4 saw Anathema finally granted the production their material deserves courtesy of Kit Woolven, and once again provided their listeners with a sense of solace for even the darkest of times when everything seems to be nothing at all.

bleak | 4/5 |


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