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Anathema - Serenades CD (album) cover



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5 stars Fantastic doom metal from England that most of you Proggers would be better off avoididng. However, their depressive balance between melody, Romanticism and heaviness should impress even the most hardheaded music listener. 'Serenades' is as a great an introduction to the genre as any.

Anathema would go on to shift their sound into a Pink Floyd/Radiohead re-hash, which is, like most modern-prog-rock-stuck-in-the-70s, a bit bland and uninspired. However, albums like "Judgment" and "A Natural Disaster" are nevetheless solid.

Report this review (#30081)
Posted Saturday, May 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars Not "Prog", but I've been a huge ANATHEMA fan for almost 6 years now, so I still like this album.

Impressive debut from the Liverpool lad's. Darren White's tortured and moody vocals gave Anathema a completely original vocalist. I might add that White's vocals are an aquired taste. The guitars really are what captures the listener, presenting an ear for melody and a beaufiul type of sorrow. The lyrics are good, but not up to par as later albums would evidence. "J'ai Fait Une Promesse" is a romantic folk song with french lyrics and the beautiful voice of Ruth. The artwork sets a fitting ambiance to the proceedings. Recommended for those looking to expand their musical boundaries.

Highlights are: :"Lovelorn Rhapsody," "Sweet Tears," "They (Will Always) Die," and "Sleepless."

Not prog, but still great, if you like early Anathema.

Report this review (#30082)
Posted Tuesday, May 25, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
1 stars An overt deception

When I first heard this album, I was convinced something was wrong. My initial reaction was that I was playing a 45rpm record at 33rpm, but ruled that out as I was listening to a CD!

It's the vocals, and I use the term loosely, which are the source of the problem, they are just awful. "Darren" doesn't sing as such, he just growls very slowly, on virtually every track. For me it's as bad as rap, there's no melody to the singing just a very annoying monotone. This is pure death metal, without any suggestion of prog.

Now I have got that out of system, there are some positives. Instrumentally, the band are melodic, with powerful driving guitar riffs, and delicate acoustic sections. The brief "J'ai fait une romesse" is sung delightfully by "Ruth".

The final track, "Dreaming: the romance" is a 20+ minute instrumental, along the lines of Tangerine Dreams more abstract pieces. It's not so much a composition, more just waves of ambient sound which doesn't really go anywhere, but is certainly more rewarding than the other tracks.

Lyrically the album is well written, and the packaging is attractive to the point of being an overt deception but, woe is me, those vocals!

Report this review (#30083)
Posted Friday, June 25, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars On "Serenades" you can clearly hear the band "Anathema" is still trying to find there sound. There are only a few songs worth mentioning like, "J'Ai Fait une Promesse" it really make me emotional. Personally I like the album, but its not impressive.
Report this review (#30084)
Posted Thursday, June 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars Just I said on my (short) review of "The Crestfallen" EP, ANATHEMA's "Serenades" is nothing more than doom metal. The only song that makes a difference is the beautiful acoustic track "J'ai fait une Promesse" sung by female vocalist Ruth, and of course not forgetting the 22-minute ambient track "Dreaming: the Romance". The rest is much like their debut EP with some minor differences, for example the guitars seem to be less heavy than on the previous record. Also this time Darren White's "vocals" are less gutural and more whisper-like, whatever...

The song "Sleepless" became a live favourite and stayed in the band's setlists for a while. "They (will always) die" is a reworking of the track "They die" which appears on the previous EP.

There are three different versions of this disc: the original version has 10 tracks, "Dreaming: the Romance" being the album closer. The American version (the one showed on this page) dropped that song and put the entire "The Crestfallen" EP at the end of the disc. Finally, the Japanese version has the original 10-track tracklist plus the track "Nailed to the Cross/666" ("nice" song title) as a bonus.

I wouldn't recommend this album to a regular prog listener, unless someone who is into this kind of metal of course. In later years Anathema radically changed their style in favour of a more melodic and symphonic approach and that's why they appear on this page.

Report this review (#46489)
Posted Monday, September 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars I bought this CD as part of a serenades/crestfallen double CD mainly to complete my Anathema collection. Like on the Crestfallen EP, this is doomdeath with occasional melodic passages.

Songs again are sometimes good, sometimes average. "Lovelorn Rhapsody" is probably the less melodic song on the album (and my least favorite, too bad it's the opening song). On "Sweet Tears", the melody starts to take shape (though the lyrics could have been better - "the weeping willow is weeping" anyone?). The album trademark is called "J'ai Fait Une Promesse": musically, it's a beautiful song with the same vocalist as on "Everwake"; lyrically, there is something that really bothers me - it is sung in french but myself, as a french person, couldn't understand half of the lyrics! "They (Will Always) Die" is the same song as on Crestfallen but with an orchestral ending. "Sleepless" is maybe one of the best known songs of early Anathema. After a passage of again pure doomdeath, the album ends with the strange dreamy "Dreaming: The Romance", a 23+ minutes long instrumental, very nice way to cool down after all those death metal growls... too bad it's the same 5 minutes repeated 5 times.

Rating: 67/100

Report this review (#64610)
Posted Friday, January 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Even if can be considered as prog I think that Anathema's Serenades is a really good album. They added growling vocals and other littles elements of "death" metal to what could be called "doom" metal and filling it with significant emotional lyrics (make sure you have a written version of the lyrics beside you while listening). The mix sounds very good when played by Anathema. Even if I liked it, the album will become somehow become repetitive in the last couple of songs but pieces like the gentle "J'ai Fait Une Promesse", the intense "Sleepless" and "Sweet Tears", the aggressive "Lovelorn Rhapsody" will make you listen to the album a bit more. I got to admit that I'm an Anathema fan. I admire their early stuff as much as their recent mostly progressive releases. Serenades is of course not for everyone because it can't be called prog. A must-have for any Anathema fan. An excellent addition to any metal discography. A good buy for most of you out here. Final "prog" verdict: Good, but not essential.
Report this review (#80565)
Posted Tuesday, June 6, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Anathema were part of the "Big Three" of Doom Metal in England in the early 90's along with Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride, yet they seemed to be the most underrated of these. Something which I never could understand. For Serenades was, in my opinion, the hands down winner of the three debut releases of this bunch. Anathema was just more....real. There was a genuine sincerity within their lyrics and music that to me was a rare commodity within the Metal scene at this time. And it is this very aspect that would grow to define the band with each passing release.

Serenades is a suffocatingly heavy album. Every song a dirge for mankind's weary existence in a slowly decaying world. Crushing heaviness wed with ethereal guitar melodies to set the foundation on which vocalist Darren White gruffly moaned his tales of grief. White's fascination with the loss of those held dear to the cold embrace of death set the theme for this album. Possessing a gruff delivery that oozed with anguish, sometimes using a spoken/clean sung approach for a different shade of misery, there was no doubting the sincerity in his words. The brothers Cavanagh, Daniel and Vincent, churned forth compellingly heavy riffs that, even with their sheer weight, portrayed an ethereal tranquility that always brought images of rain forests, water falls, gleaming sunsets/rises and distant horizons to my mind. The rhythm section consisting of bassist Duncan Patterson and drummer John Douglas pounded out a crushing backbone, Douglas's drumming really bringing forth the intensity in certain parts, such as the ending of opener "Lovelorn Rhapsody." "Jai Fait Une Promesse" is an acoustic guitar piece with female singer Ruth providing some of the best vocals I've ever heard anywhere. "Sleepless," the only song the band still plays live from this album, is a classic, opening in nearly pure gothic territory and ending with a scorching solo. "Sleep In Sanity" is otherworldly, crushing and beautiful all the same. The song that made the deepest impression on me however was "Under A Veil (Of Black Lace)," a tale of a befallen love that is the most sorrowful song written in a Doom Metal context I've ever heard. Truly mournful. ..."I loved her...but now she's gone"...

My version of this disc came complete with the bands debut 1992 E.P. Crestfallen, 3 tracks of immense doom in the same vein as the Serenades material, and an acoustic piece with female vocals "Everwake" every bit as beautiful as the aforementioned "Jai Fait Une Promesse". This album will always remind me of the first time I experienced it. A grey December evening, sitting by the window, as the album played on, the grey faded into the night. A true journey into the darkness of the soul...and heart.

Report this review (#85976)
Posted Sunday, August 6, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars About Anathema: From the beginning of their career to 1995 there is nothing so special about them. In the "Pentacost III" ep and in "Eternity" they manage to make us understand that they are meant for something bigger, something that would latter come with what I consider their best album "Alternative 4". Pink Floyd and Radiohead influences can be found in their music as the years pass and in 2004 they release an amazing record which is completely different from everything they have done before. Summing up, Anathema is a band that always evolved. They passed from doom, to atmospheric rock, to alternative always having elements from more than one style. Progressive elements can be found also but their too few to categorize them as prog metal (In my humble opinion their inclusion on PA should be questioned). However, Anathema is an amazing band that can appeal to many prog fans who like music with deep and mostly depressing emotions.

About "Serenades": Anathema's debut album is much better than "Crestfallen" ep. The lyrics seem to be better but still not even close to their later ones. Their mind seem to have opened from "Crestfallen" since you can hear many different ideas and many different influences on their music (at times you can even see similarities even with "Sisters of mercy". Anathema seem to be experimenting much more than on their first ep. For those who haven't listened to "Crestfallen", let me say that all the songs sound almost the same apart from "everwake". Here we have two very experimental songs, "j'ai fait une promesse" and "dreaming: the romance" which I'm not going to analyse (you won't get as surprised if I do). A much more mature attempt by the band and much better as a whole. The guitars are less heavy than on "Crestfallen" and the production is fine compared to it. Better drums and better compositions, evidence that this band is evolving.

Buy or not?: If you've never listened to Anathema before, try "Alternative 4", "Eternity" and "A natural Disaster" to get a picture of Anathema's good work. Most of you wont like this cd because it's mostly doom metal. There are prog moments but not many. This ep is not such a good starting point. As many people may know, the members of Anathema are in a terrible financial condition. If you are a fan you should buy it. If you want to help them financially in another way, you can donate money to Anathema through their official site.

Report this review (#91982)
Posted Monday, September 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars Doom beginnings.

Serenades is a modest start for Anathema, while not being particularly great, it is also greatly different from their later material. This is slow, prodding, and methodical doom metal. The vocals are greatly different from the later vocals of Cavanagh, and the instrumental style is also much different, although the overall attitude and emotional connections are very similar.

Sleepless is my personal favorite, which opens in a dark, clean, muddy manner, but has an outstanding guitar tone and solo. The final track Dreaming is quite different, but essentially not captivating. The band would improve after this.

Unfortunately, this album really gives little insight into the band's future sound, which would lose most all of the death-like vocals in favor of a more somber, melodic vocals of the Cavanagh brothers. For those with a taste for any kind of extremes in metal, this can be quite enjoyable, but not exactly "prog".

Report this review (#112196)
Posted Thursday, February 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Serenades is Anathema´s debut album and one of the classic albums in early doom/ death metal. I was very much into this genre in the early nineties and I have lots of albums in this style on my shelf.

The music is slow and occasionally mid paced doom death metal with just enough variation to keep it interesting. Some songs are more exciting than others though. The more trivial doom death tracks like They (Will Always) Die, Sleep of Sanity and Under a Veil (Of Black Lace) are not that exciting to me. They ( Will Always) Die is also featured on Anathema´s debut EP The Crestfallen but here it is re- recorded in a better and updated version. Under a Veil ( of Black Lace) and especially Sleep of Sanity reminds me of My Dying Bride´s debut album As the Flower Withers but they are not nearly as good as the songs on that album.

Serenades starts out pretty strong though with Lovelorn Rhapsody which is pretty good doom death IMO and with the video song Sweet Tears which might be the best song here. I remember seeing this video on Headbangers Ball and thinking that I had to have this album. It´s a pretty seventies inspired doom death song really, note the slide riff which is pretty cool IMO.

J'Ai Fait une Promesse is a very strong female led ballad. It´s a very pretty song and Ruth who is credited for the vocals is a very good vocalist. Note the beautiful vocal harmonies in the song.

Sleepless is another favorite of mine from this album and together with Sweet Tears it represents Anathema the best I think. It has got an eighties gothic feel to it, like a Sisters of Mercy or The Mission song. Scars of the Old Stream and Where Shadows Dance are short instrumental pieces nothing to get excited about really.

On the version here in the archieves The Crestfallen EP ( minus They( Will Always) Die is added to the playlist, but my version doesn´t include these tracks. Instead there is a 23+ minute long ambient song called Dreaming ( the Romance) as the final song ( number 10). This song consist solely of long melodic keyboard notes played in layers. Nothing that excitet me back then and today I find it even more trivial.

The sound quality is pretty good for the time. A time where that was not the order of the day.

The musicians are questionable at best. Especially the drummer is really untight and lead singer Darren White is really a bad growler and an even worse singer. The level of musicianship is not why you should buy this album.

It´s really hard to evaluate an album that I personally feel had some historical significance on the doom/ death scene on a prog rock site. IMO this deserves 3 stars, but on the other hand there are many trivial songs on this album and what is even worse they happen to be the longest ones. The prog relevance is also very small, and the reason Anathema is in the prog archieves at all is for their later more post rock releases. I´ll rate this 2 stars as it is only for the fans but it could have been a 3 in another forum.

Related listening:

My Dying Bride: As the Flower Withers, The trash of Naked Limbs Paradise Lost: Lost Paradise, Gothic Cathedral: Forest of Equilibrium, Soul Sacrifice EP Enchantment: Dance the Marble Naked Katatonia: Dance of December Souls, Brave Murder Day

Report this review (#163073)
Posted Monday, March 3, 2008 | Review Permalink
The Crow
2 stars It's well knows that the musical beginnigs of this bands were very different of the music they make today... But it's still interesting to hear the evolution and discover that this first albums had some of the elements of the last!

"Serenades" is doom metal... A cascade of slow, distorted and heavy guitars with lyrics talking about desperation and love. This genre (and many others...) was primarily painted by Black Sabbath in the seminal "Black Sabbath", and at the end of the 80's / beginnigs of the 90's it was popularised by bands like Candlemass, Cathedral... And Anathema! Their albums "Serenades" and "The Silent Enigma" are still two highly apreciated albums between the doom metal lovers.

But in "Serenades" we can hear some of the elements that his band would use and increase in later releases... Some of the melodies are not really differnet of the ones included in albums like "Alternative 4" and "Judgement", like some Daniel's trademark guitar sounds, although the style is really far from the alternative prog they make since "Eternity". Also the lyrics, speaking about tortured love and obscure feelings are in a similar vein (but obviously not so good...) The end of the album is also special for a doom metal band... A 23 minutes new age song! It's something the band would use again in the future, at the end of "A Fine Day to Exit" and "A Natural Disaster".

So although this album is not for everyone's taste, if you like Anathema's last albums, then you should give "Serenades" a listening... Maybe you'll be surprised, because you'll discover that after all the years and all the changes, it's obvious that we are talking about the same band.

Best tracks: Sweet Tears (I love the groovy guitas...), J'ai Fait une Promesse (it remembers me to Parisienne Moonlight in "Judgement"...), Sleepless (a little gothic classic... Cradle of Filth made a cool version of this one!), Under a Veil (of Black Lace) (precious guitar melodies...) and Nailed to the Cross / 666 (Bonus track) (I love this great stoner feeling...)

Conclusion: if you like doom metal, you must hear this album... It's one of the genre's pillars, and it has great songs. If you don't like it, then avoid it, because it has anything interesting for you, and of course it's not progressive at all. Nevertheless, it can also be enjoyed by Anathema's fans, because it has a lot of links with later and more famous releases. But writing in a progressive rock web, I must consider "Serenades" an album for collectors/fans only.

My personal rating: ***1/2

ProgArchives rating: **1/2

Report this review (#223850)
Posted Monday, June 29, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars Please note this is a review of the original album, the first pressing.

This is the debut album from Anathema. It is radically different from their later life as a Pink Floydish act. Serenades is a doom metal album.

Although the music on this album is not as slow as Cathedral's seminal album Forest Of Eqilibrium, the music here is a pretty big shock for the senses. The growling vocals lays on the top of the detuned guitars and bass. Add some pretty hard drums and atonal guitar solos and you get total gloom. Anathema tried to create a world of sorrows, doom and gloom. They got what they wanted. ......And some. The only track which breaks up this slash- your-wrists ambience here is the ethereal beautiful J'ai Fait Une Promesse which is a total departure from the rest of the album with it's wonderful female vocals. This song is full of melancholy and sorrows. Despite of it's total break with the rest of the album, it actually fits this album as a hand to a glove. In other words; this album is total gloom.

The final twenty-three minutes track Dreaming: The Romance is a collage of noises and a total waste of time (later removed from any further pressings). That is my only gripe with this album. This is why I like the Crestfallen EP better than this album. This album is a classic album in the doom metal genre and a good album overall. But as a prog album, it is a 2 stars album.

2.75 stars

Report this review (#249045)
Posted Sunday, November 8, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
2 stars Death metal grunts and slow oppressive doom riffs. There's little in this music betraying the masterpieces that were lurking in the minds of the Cavanagh brothers. Nevertheless, together with As The Flower Withers from My Dying Bride and Shades Of God from Paradise Lost, this was the very album that brought me to doom death and all great things that resulted out of it back in 1993.

Anathema's debut pales in comparison to the other pioneers. I had heard the excellent Sweet Tears and Sleepless on my favourite radio show but I was very disappointed with the rest of the album. Given that I could only afford 2 CD purchases in a month back then, I felt particularly cheated, the remainder of the album is very tough to sit through.

Well, some artist start with their best work, others need a few years to mature. Great artwork though!

Report this review (#256010)
Posted Monday, December 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars In a way, this is a pretty good debut, unlike many people think. In fact, I tend to prefer this album to their following studio album, "The Silent Enigma".

"Serenades" sure has some tired and forced vocals and melodies, being just plain death doom metal with no other original elements, but the good moments aren't completely absent; "Je Fiat Une Promesse" is a beautiful, acoustic ballad, sung almost all in French by fragile, female vocals. "Sweet Tears" has a good melody, and creates a very effective and creepy atmosphere. "Sleepless" is a tense and neurotic song, but very impressive in many parts. Even in the last, final song, the ambient piece "The Dreaming", has some haunting and wonderful moments, even tough after 23 minutes it gets a little repetitive.

But the rest is easily forgettable, emotionless doom metal, that doesn't transmit any emotions whatsoever.

As a conclusion, I gave this 3.5 stars, only thanks to the few songs I mentioned. The rest, like I said, is avoidable.

Report this review (#306536)
Posted Monday, October 25, 2010 | Review Permalink
1 stars One reviewer is rating this album with the masterpiece status... Well, I guess that I will balance this rating for sure.

It is especially true when you bear in mind that there isn't one single track to obey to any prog concept in here. It is not because "J'Ai Fait Une Promesse" is an all acoustic song that it should be considered as prog. It is just a boring lamentation; sung by a young lady. Period.

As Easy Livin has said in his accurate review (as usual); there are some interesting instrumental parts featured on this album. But I want to add that these aren't really innovative since the doom metal genre was invented a long, long time before this work. And everybody knows of whom we are talking about, right?

If you like growling vocals (which I hate personally), you might be interested by this "work". One of the extremely few decent moments is the closing and instrumental part of "They Will Always Die". The second one is probably the "Cure" oriented "Sleepless". It is seriously borrowing from the great "A Forest" ("Cure"). Vocals are almost decent as well (but only during the first half, unfortunately).

The long and instrumental closing number is a peaceful electronic (!) prog moment. I have no clue as of how this track was generated but it is a fine and pleasant piece of music, although very simple and truly repetitive.

One star for the whole.

Report this review (#312067)
Posted Wednesday, November 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
2 stars 'Serenades' - Anathema (4/10)

Although the band Anathema has since gone down a much more atmospheric and melodic route with their music, it's important to note that the group began as one of the pioneers of death doom metal, a style of music similar in its melancholic feeling to what Anathema has done more recently, but much heavier and darker in the one it is executed. With a few demos and this debut 'Serenades', Anathema would be setting the groundwork for a style that has since become much more popular by the likes of bands like Swallow the Sun. Although 'Serenades' is a classic work for its development in that doom metal sound, it is an incredibly hit-or-miss ordeal throughout, and may be better appreciated for its place in history than as a listening experience of its own.

Fronted by growler Darren White, the sound of Anathema at this time is generally very heavy, downtempo and foreboding, using equal mesaures of the doom metal style innovated by Black Sabbath, and the newer death metal sound to create something that is dark, solemn and full of sadness. The album unfortunately however falls into a weak standing for its lack of cohesion and flow as an album; although Anathema is making some great steps forward with music here, they fail to create a piece of work that is bound together tightly. Instead, what we have here is a collection of tracks that range from excellence to somewhat boring exercises in distorted heaviness. The album's opener 'Lovelorn Rhapsody' has since become a classic song for death doom; a piece of music that cycles through darkness and beauty very powerfully. The real hit here however is 'Sleepless', a much more melodic and concise track than most on 'Serenades', featuring a post-punk mentalitty that wouldn't feel out of place on a Cure album. Besides that, the songs here so consistent, although moments arise where the more melodic beauty overpowers the raw heaviness. 'They Die' features a symphonic end that is a really nice breath of fresh air for the sound, and 'Under A Veil' has some beautiful guitar harmonies to work with.

Another issue is the weak production of the album here, which at times works quite well, but the heavier sections generally suffer as a result . Darren White's vocals are also quite inconsistent as a vocalist; at times his voice can make some really great growls that only add to the vibe of the music, and at others sound like nothing more than an adolescent whisper.

A disappointing album considering its great importance to the development of doom metal as it is heard today, but it is not without a few gems.

Report this review (#414160)
Posted Thursday, March 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars Anathema's first album is, unmistakeably, a doom metal offering. It growls and groans and thunders and crunches and thunders its unstoppably behemothic way through pain and misery, as any such album should. That's not to say, of course, that this is some uninventively meat-headed metal stereotype. There is enough thought and variation here for one to consider this an intelligently crafted release that does at least make some sense to include on this site.

There is, however, a problem. In stark contrast to the band's subsequent works, this release is a comparatively unmoving emotional non-experience. It may ebb and flow with cerebrally pleasing variety and may posses an identifiable personality within the slightly stale subgenre of doom metal, but it does little or nothing to touch the heart or soul. Sure, the musical emphasis is different here to their later works, but a good doom metal release should, as the name suggests, move one to contemplate their own doom, the futility of their existence, and generally create an army of nihilists for fans. Contemporaries My Dying Bride are an example of a band that managed this rather well.

The one exception to this is the 23 minute ambient closing track. Even here, however, the composition is somewhat subpar, as the music really seems to continue for its own sake, rather than with any true purpose. All too often, it becomes mere background noise.

It's also not a hugely memorable release either. Nothing here particularly sticks in the mind; certainly, you aren't likely to find yourself absent-mindedly singing or humming any of the tracks on here in the shower. Perhaps, though, that is excusable, given the genre.

It's not a total write-off of an album. Musically it is a solid release, and does display at least some of the talent of the Cavanagh brothers. But it is a far cry from the band Anathema would grow to be.

1.5/5, rounded up to 2

Report this review (#457493)
Posted Sunday, June 5, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars Serenades ? 1993

7 ? Best Song: The stupid one with the French title

Oh, how this album channels deep into my soul, my windswept, despairing sense of inner turmoil, and characterizes the epitome of human suffering for all eternity. Serenades is a catechism of anguish and torment, FOREVER! Or, it could just be deathy doom metal with the same smoke- faced riffs populating the same dark, abrasive underground musical circles that've been popular ever since talentless hacks figured they could write songs about their silly emotions just the same as everyone else, which is doubly frustrating given that some poor sod could hear this first, instead of something along the lines of Plastic Ono Band, and be inclined for this and against that. That'd suck if John Lennon had a thing for Mayhem and Burzum and Black Sabbath. Can you imagine his musical output if he'd been alive to listen to Serenades? Mother! You had me, but I raped your eyes and devoured your maggot flesh! I tried to run, but I couldn't blah blah.

You get my picture, right? It's dumb as dirt and it doesn't even know it, that's saddening. Darren White's vocals are of the predictable cookie cutter variety, without even being a highlight of the spectrum. The guitars are melancholy and funeralesque, unsaintly and unsightly. The lyrics are your typical pain and suffering under an uncaring god fare. It's all torturously slow and sullen. I was just praying for a Moody Blues cover halfway through 'Sweet Tears'. And then, the other big fad in those special countries is the inclusion of a female 'opera' singer and soft elements to make them seem 'artistic' and 'special'. It's like the little boy who fingerpaints with everybody else, but decides to prick his finger and call it the void of theism to seem deep and profound.

The sandy and dungeon crawling atmosphere has been beaten to death with bricks, and the album does drag on by 'Under a Veil'. What dip[&*!#] recommended these guys to me?

Report this review (#459137)
Posted Saturday, June 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
1 stars 2.5/10

My God, this album is very bad. Gives me a heartache to know that I had to hear it.

I already knew that in his early career Anathema away a doom metal band, with a sound radically different alternative post-rock/rock heard in his later albums. But anyway, I did not expect to have to deal with it. It was too much for my ears, and not long ago I heard music so low.

The problem is that you can see that the band has talent. The instrumentation is good, although somewhat impaired by the production of biaxa uqalidade. But what kills is the vocals. They are an abomination. Are still not enough guttural creep slowly and terribly boring, that make my ears bleed (ok, I exaggerated, but I think there is an idea of what I went through when I heard this album). There are some odd moments, like the sweet J'ai Fait Une Promesse (one subtle nod to the band's future, perhaps?) Long and Dreaming: The Romance 23 minutes of music and experimental environment that can make you relax and immerse yourself in experience rather comforting ... if you have the patience for it.

Maso rest of the album sucks. It pleases me to know that Anathema has evolved his style to something totally different that because Serenades is not an album that I do not wish for my worst enemy. 1 star.

Report this review (#992924)
Posted Saturday, July 6, 2013 | Review Permalink
2 stars Serenades' story is an unfortunate one, mainly due to the album being unknowingly doomed from the start to be cast aside because of how much of a reputation Anathema would gain with subsequent albums. I'm not the first one to say it, but it's fairly cut-and-dry that Anathema's debut does not match up in quality to nearly every other release the band had following it. This goes for not only Anathema's progressive rock material but also in terms of their doom metal albums, because they made leaps and bounds with their previously half-baked ideas with the Silent Enigma two years later. So really what makes Serenades generally thought of as bad?

Well aside from the aforementioned comparisons it gets to later material (that is usually judged to be much higher quality), Serenades is generally not very interesting. It's unnaturally melodic in unfitting places with overly loud guitars drowning out dull, growling vocals from Darren White, making for a seemingly confused doom metal album that shows a different genre within it but refuses to show it to it's full potential, in this case the progressive side of Anathema. I will admit on first listen it packs quite a punch- the double kick, crisp drumming from John Douglas really contrasts well with the very large-sounding guitar duo of the Cavanagh brothers. And then they do it again. And again. And so forth. It really is a neat concept that could use more exploring, but here it's just really maldeveloped. The melodies also get stale extremely quickly. 'Eternal Rise of the Sun''s opening hook isn't anything really special, but it is substantial. Then it gets repeated so much that it just gets annoying.

Honestly I think the biggest problem is Serenades doesn't want to be a gritty, Winter-esque album with very low production value and little eclecticism. Young Anathema wanted to be more than that, obviously, but how they show that is with an underwhelming release that can't decide whether it wants to be complex or simple. And don't even get me started on the twenty-three-and-a-half minute long pseudo-orchestral snooze-fest that is 'Dreaming: The Romance". Usually when you see a song of that length you'd assume something spectacular. Instead you get almost a half-an-hour of flat, programmed strings with very little variation, and sounding like an intro or interlude stretched out twenty minutes too long. Really it's a disappointing ending to an already disappointing album.

Serenades is an album remembered among really only fans, and not really for a good reason. It's an underdeveloped...well, I wouldn't really call it a "mess" but more along the lines of a misstep. It was corrected fairly well but it's a tangled debut with bigger aspirations than it can fit in it's tiny box.

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Posted Saturday, July 15, 2017 | Review Permalink

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