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Anathema - A Natural Disaster CD (album) cover

A NATURAL DISASTER

Anathema

Experimental/Post Metal


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billyshears'67
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Anathema really know what they're doing. Immensely talented, although the music is not technical its textures and layers are amazing. They introduce many new sounds on this album as usual. But I was shocked when I first heard "Closer." I've never heard anything like that, its like it was created in another universe, I love it. The album cover was done by Travis Smith whose done work for Opeth, Nevermore, Control Denied, Death, Diabolical Masquerade, Gordian Know, King Diamond, and so many more. "Childhood Dream" is a very atmospheric and somber brief instrumental which is a suitable precursor to the brilliant next song. "Pulled Under at 2000 Metres a Second" is one of the most powerful songs they've done. The lyrics just rip at the walls of your emotions. "Violence" the last song on the album is both ethereal and pummeling in its duration, a very good song to get stoned to. Each song on this album has its own identity. I'm very interested to see where they'll go next. It sure seems promising.

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Send comments to billyshears'67 (BETA) | Report this review (#30135)
Posted Tuesday, May 25, 2004 | Review Permalink
Marcelo
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars With "A Natural Disaster", ANATHEMA forgot its metal roots and made an album very pleasant to progressive ears. Not prog in the classic way, because the stuff shows a big approach to alternative rock (in the vein of RADIOHEAD or even COLDPLAY), very atmospherical and giving to the listener a distant and melancholic sensation. And PINK FLOYD spirit isn't far away.

Guitar and voices have the prominent role along the album except at the last, long and space instrumental track, "Violence", one of the highlights. Another high point is "Closer", a magnificent song, but beauty is the common place at all moments. Even "Pulled Under at 2000 Metres at Second" (where ANATHEMA makes a "homage" to its former powerful and heavy style) is very nice.

PINK FLOYD and alternative rock fans will enjoy this album very much. And all progressive listeners have with it an excellent option.

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Send comments to Marcelo (BETA) | Report this review (#30136)
Posted Tuesday, July 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
b-beasley@exc
4 stars After buying this album, I listened to it once, halfway through, and was disinterested, so I put it back on my shelf and forgot about it for a few months.|

Then, one night, I decided that I should give it another shot. So, I slid it into my CD player, put my headphones on, and pressed play.

Immediately, I was shocked. "How the hell did I not appreciate this when I first listened?" I asked myself. As the first track, 'Harmonium' floated over me, the melancholic voice and swilring guitar and synths put me in a state of mind usually created by such bands as PINK FLOYD.

The music is quite FLOYD-like, but I also hear similarities to RADIOHEAD, and even COLDPLAY. However, there is a definate prog flavour, and in my mind this band is far better than RADIOHEAD. Why they have not had more commercial success is strange to me.

The next few tracks continued the wonderful sensation, and when I got to 'Closer', the third track, I knew that this was going to be an album that was going to get repeated plays.

'Pulled Under at 2000 Metres a Second' is a bit of a throwback to the band's early days as doom metal, but it is no less of a great song, and Danny's voice becomes more aggressive, but no less emotional.

The album ends with 'Violence', the most progressive track on the album. It is ten minutes in length, and it is beautiful. Filled with emotion, and going from soft, piano interludes to powerful, guitar-driven sections. A wonderful instrumental track, and a perfect way to close the album.

This album is especially good for times when you are feeling don or depressed. The music suits the mood, and is best played on rainy days, or very late at night. Anathema have made an excellent album, and I look forward to their next outing.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#30137)
Posted Tuesday, August 24, 2004 | Review Permalink
Muzikman
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars ANATHEMA's "Natural Disaster" is yet another departure of style in comparison to their experimental album in 2001 "A Fine Day To Exit". What I am hearing is a reaching back from whence they came, just a bit, to the metal sound and some of the textures of the previous album, all combined to form an excellent all encompassing album that is bound to please many listeners. Their overall sound will continue to piss off those that want the black/death metal band they knew to return. After listening a gazillion times to this CD, I think it is definitely one of the better releases of 2004.

"Pulled Under At 2000 Meters Per Second" (track 6) explodes like a classic rendering from DREAM THEATER. It builds your anticipation with atmospheric keyboards then breaks through like a titanium/steel battering ram giving your senses and eardrums a major wakeup call. nothing like a bit of abruptness to shake you out of the mood the more languid sounds they paint lapse you into before swallowing you up with their big sound. The wall of sound, built with hard driving loud guitars and rhythm section that is to die for, pounds away until all five minutes and twenty-three seconds worth drives home with conviction. No doubt, if the entire album were like this it would be fantastic high-energy non-stop ride.

The curtain closer "Violence" tracks in at 10:45. With a runtime like that, you probably think it could very well be their piece de resistance (like a YES or ELP tune), the crowning glory of the album that will put them back into the forefront of prog-metal heads everywhere. sorry no dice. Once again, you are pulled down into a slumber then jostled into a different frame of mind and energy level with a pounding syncopated rhythm section, driving guitars and keyboards.alas, this time is too short lived, they drop on your metal lovin' arse. Suddenly the excitement of that awesome energy drops like a desert night's temperature, which pissed me off. The song reverts to a wimpy wispy walk in the park, a long stretch of solitude with tinkering piano and keyboards; mostly sounding like a PINK FLOYD interlude you would find tucked in the middle of one their longer songs. I know, there is that comparison, again. Unfortunately there was no crescendo of crashing drums and pile driving guitars. so sad, because I thought it would be as good as track 6. It is not always violent, not in the literal sense, as the title of the composition indicates, although it is comparative to a brewing storm of anger as it builds quietly then explodes into a fit of rage, well you get the picture, just think of music portraying that setting, as brief as it is. Those are two of the best examples of where the band is at this time in their development.

It seems as though they cannot make up their mind the direction they want to go in at times on this album, although I suppose because the songs are all about the delicate ebb and flow of emotions, the changes are appropriate. In any case, for the most part this is a very satisfying recording. To be truthful I liked the flip-flopping back and forth of the musical moods, but I was disappointed at the same time that they didn't let the horse out of the barn so to speak, which was peeking out and ready to run, but got pulled back in and tied up to the post. This band is on the brink of a major masterpiece, they are so close with this one. I think if they let go of the restraints next time out, it could be so brutally beautiful. Despite my criticisms, this is a fine album with many great tracks to enjoy.

Rating: 4/5

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Send comments to Muzikman (BETA) | Report this review (#30138)
Posted Monday, January 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
fabinick@libe
2 stars Anathema have lost their inspiration that's tha fact. They are badly reproducing all the great ideas they developed in Alternative4 and Judgement. I mean this is not a bad album but everything have been listen yet...maybe previus anathema albums were too great and now is very difficult to do something better. Anyway this is an album only for fans, everyone else can start listening to Alternative4 or Judgement.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#30141)
Posted Monday, May 02, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars For starters: What a depressing career.

~I don't intentionally offend people, but it is people let themselves be offended.

Dear Anathema, Please stop writing all your albums with all droopy, dragging songs that don't go anywhere. I can write this nonsense in my sleep. Opeth's "Damnation" is innovative and original, Dream Theater's "Octavarium" is a new step in their career, and Anathema's "Natural Disaster" is not a step at all. Anathema has the same two tricks every album. 1.) Find depressed teenagers through depressing music and 2.) Make the attempt at giving them the same thing on every album, every song, and getting them to like it, because they are depressed. Someone tell me how Anathema is progressive? Because they use keyboards? David Bowie has had keyboards. Don't get me wrong though, if you are actually depressed, whiney, angry at the world, this band could be for you, but this is the problem: Anathema only goes one way. The one way is of course, all cynical, "I hate god, even though I have money and a job now," Etc. There are virtually no upbeat songs in Anathema's career, Natural Disaster is no different from the last. Only to say they have different time signatures (sometimes), and different themes (sometimes). I've heard 138 Anathema songs because I decided to give them a chance. They never sank in, they aren't progressive, and if I want depressing, I still have Nine Inch Nails, Opeth, and so on and so forth. Progressive music is a kind of music that involves not only whiney teenager music (if ever), but blends elements. Elements might be Jazz, classical music, funk, blues, metal, electronica, spacey/experimental, etc. I see one thing in Anathema's "Natural Disaster" which is consistent through their career, blowing us all away with emotion. Emotions can be good, I love emotions... But Anathema only has emotion, and nothing else. Don't try to argue talent, I will point you in the direct of Pink Floyd if so.

A music professor once told me, "A good musician uses both dissonance and consonance."

Depression is contagious, non-variating music is contagious, wrong opinions are contagious.

The old man cried so much he drowned.

Bottom Line: If you need to be by yourself and cut in the dark, this band, and this album in particular, may be for you. They offer emotions, emotions you may be having right now. If you want progressive music, I'm sorry but you're on the wrong ProgArchives page.

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Send comments to The Ryan (BETA) | Report this review (#36626)
Posted Wednesday, June 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
cyprys1_22@o2
2 stars So, when I've heard this album for the first time I've loved it. It has a sort of specific mood in most of the songs, which was suitable for me at that time. I was walking & dreaming with lines of 'R U there' in my head. But after few weeks I've found this album rather boring than amazing. Why? There's something missing here; many tracks seems to be empty in a way...

However I decided to get 'Judgement'.. And guess what - 'Judgement' and 'A natural disaster' seems to be the same album! There are no diffrences beetwen them.. Same sounds, same moods, same lyrics, same almost everything.. No freshness..

I recommend this album for someone who want to keep himself/herself in a great sadness.. These songs won't help you. Your sadness will be only deeper and deeper...

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#41715)
Posted Friday, August 05, 2005 | Review Permalink
fgvcaralho@gm
5 stars I'm really suspicious to talk about Anathema, since I'm a great fan of them. But what I really think is that the band is in continuing change, they are trying to reach a sound that mix some melancholy, progressive, and rock stuff. It seems that in every album, the band is not satisfied with the kind of sound they did on the last album, but that's a nice thing. I think they really doing an evolution since Darren White got out of the band, after the Pentecost III. Here it's what I think about the songs:

Harmonium - a very very good intro piece, the master of keyboards Les makes you drown in Anathemas world... as a specially of the band, the song keeps getting stronger and come at a point when they start using distortions and more stronger vocals (masterfully singed by Vinnye).

Balance - most of people don't know this, and neither didn't I until I watched the DVD, but Danny plays the keyboards on this song. Seems that his is coming to be the brain of the band (since he composed all the songs on this album). Well, in my point of view, once again they screw... once again, as the song goes by it keeps getting stronger and stronger, then it ends... just ends..

Closer - continuing with the feelings left on Balence, once again Danny plays the keyboards as his brother Vinnye controls the synthesizer used to change his voice into a kind of robotic thing... he keeps saying just a few phrases... "Your dream world is a very scary place... to be trapped inside". Well, I don't know what you people think about it, but in my opinion, Danny has a wonderful feeling to write lyrics, and even when it's just one phrase, he makes you think a lot about it.

Are You There? - YES... the whisper on the beginning says, this song is one of the most beautiful pieces I've ever listened to, no kidding. Danny sings on this song, the lyrics seems to be really personal for Dannys life... the drums are very well played by John and the simple solo on the middle of the songs it's economic, clean, and beautiful.

Childhood Dream - It's like a little break during the album, sounds something psychedelic that bands like Coldplay would never do thins such as this.

Pulled Under - the heaviest song on the album. Sure it reminds some old Anthema, and songs like Dying Wish, and later then Empty, and then Panic. The song starts with a delaying bass which reminds me a little of One Of These Days from Pink Floyd. Then suddenly like an avalanche of music the song grows stronger and a bit violent. Some interludes and then it ends... just ends... like they did on closer.

A Natural Disaster - there isn't too much to say about this song. Melancholic, Lees voice gives the perfect tune for the song... once again Anathema keeps using female vocals on some songs.

Electricity - once again all honours goes to Danny, he plays the keys on this one and also sings on it. A very simple but beautiful song... no heavy guitars, no scream... just a peaceful song.

Violence - it starts with a single piano line... then progressively the others sounds and instruments keep appearing on the song... like a storm coming on the horizon, then the storm arrives... a strange fast drums that don't make the song faster, a strange guitar riff that although the song keeps going stronger doesnt get heavier.. and then the storm passes away... peace again... another melancholic piano line, like if you were watching the firs ray of the sunlight through the clouds... and although there's sorrow in every where... there's also hope... it's the end...

WONDERFUL ALBUM

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#55131)
Posted Tuesday, November 08, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars A good follow-up to "A fine day to exit". Nothing too original here, although the songs are still excellent.

"Harmonium", "Balance" and "Closer" start smoothly with a lot of keys. "Are You There ?" is a marvelous ballad followed by a short instrumental "Childhood Dream". Then comes the rage again, like on "Judgement" or "Panic" with the song "Pulled Under At 2000 Metres A Second". "A Natural Disaster" is a ballad again, very close to "Barriers" on the last album. The last three songs "Flying", "Electricity" and "Violence" complete the feeling of peace that is again dominant on this album.

Rating: 85/100

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Send comments to zaxx (BETA) | Report this review (#64748)
Posted Saturday, January 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
mr.artichoke@
5 stars A Natural Disaster is one of my favorite albums of all time. It seriously how amazing and deep this album can be at times. Sure, it is totally not like any of their other albums, but it has a lot of variety: from poppy tunes (Are You There?, A Natural Disaster), hard rockers (Pulled Under at 2000 Metres a Second), to really experimental tracks (Closer), this album has something for everybody. And it all ends with the amazing instrumental "Violence". Anybody who likes progressive rock and albums from Anathema like Judgement should eat this up.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#77900)
Posted Friday, May 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A sad album?

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine introduced me Anathema, the first song that i listened was "Sleepless", (not the Crimson one), and it was good but i remember that i was not interested in more Anathema, until one day she gave me a CD called "A Natural Disaster", when a self titled song appears with a great melancoholic sound with female vocals, but also another song "Are You There?", who immediately caugh my attention, since then this is one of my favorite "prog melancoholic metal" albums.

So now that i finished that little introduction, here is the review.

"Harmonium", is maybe the closest to doom or metal here, because it starts with a slow tempo, with voices over there, and then little by little the guitar is rising, not the best song, just OK, nice first song.

"Balance" is another slow song, in fact the most of the songs have this style, there are some faster passages but because of the feeling of the album you can imagine some of it`s greatest moments are in slow tempo., this is another short and slow song, just to continue the album.

"Closer" is a strange song, it has trhoughout the song a particular "robotic" voice, its great but this song could desperate you, its not so long but always with the same rythm, for me is great, but its a matter of tastes.

"Are You There" is maybe my favorite song, because of it`s beautiful (sad) mood , it`s great that kind of deep songs which maybe would love, the lyrics are beautiful and the little crescendo during the song is amazing, when you listen to this song you will find a clear example of a non metal song whiich belongs to a metal album.

"Childhood Dream" a short song which has what the title says, i mean you can imagine a child ,its something like a lullaby but with melancoholic ambient, i repeat the song is short but you can enjoy this 2 minutes.

"Pulled Under 2000 metres" is probably the metal song that we are waiting for, since the beggining of the song we can appreciate a strongest guitar sound, but again with that sad mood which make it better, also the vocals here remind me "Sheep" of Pink Floyd.

"A Natural Disaster", the self titled song, as i said above, this song features guest female vocals, by the way great vocals, this song remind me some Portishead because of the slow guitar tempo and the female voice, but actually it has nothing in common , this is that song you im sure you will love and sing, cause no matter what i say, no matter what i do, i cant change what happen...

"Flying" is a great song, im realizing right now that im not talking a lot about the music, here we can find great guitar work and a nice keyboard sound as a background, in fact in all the album we can appreciate that, this is maybe one of my favorite songs here.

"Electricity" is another beautiful (sad) mood song which you will recognize immediately if i tell you that it starts with a very melancoholic piano, then the soft Cavanagh voice makes it more special too, this song have the samy rythm the most of the time, i love it, it makes me think and take a long breath.

"Violence" is an excellent song, great and i think it was great to put it at the end of the album, maybe the most prgoressive because of its changes and 10 minutes. Again it starts with piano ,but this time it has no voice and after 2 minutes the song has a dramatic change this time with drums and powerful guitar sound, like this way the song has it`s next 2 or 3 minutes, then again a change.

After all i enjoy this album a lot, maybe it`s not the most progressive, not the most metal, and not the most complex, but perfect to my ears and moods. I highly recommend it despite not being a masterpiece, 4 stars for me.

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Send comments to memowakeman (BETA) | Report this review (#81505)
Posted Monday, June 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
Tristan Mulders
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Anathema - A natural Disaster

Anathema's most up-to-date album is still the least appealing album of their progressive years. Whereas the previous albums all saw some experimentation in their sound, this one sticks with the same sound as its predecessor "A fine Day to exit", but without being as catchy. As a matter of fact, I still cannot recall some of the songs whenever I see their titles. I'm not saying it's all bad, not at all, just not as good as the other space rock albums.

An exception to the previous is the song Closer. This song is really unique for Anathema's standards. It is an ethereal sounding song which only features vocoder- effected vocals and an amazing build-up in instrumentation. Perhaps the most atmosperhic Anathema song up to date!

As I've mentioned before, the overall quality of the songs is rather good, but not as exciting or adventurous as their previous output. Therefore I cannot rate it more than 3 stars.

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Send comments to Tristan Mulders (BETA) | Report this review (#83800)
Posted Saturday, July 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Having gone under a momentous shift in approach and presentation during the course of their career, Liverpool's Anathema continue to expand their sonic horizons in search of the ultimate emotional truth through musical expression. Each effort sees the band further developing their sound away from their doom/death roots towards the experimental and harmonious, while remaining faithful to the unparalleled power of their song-writing and introspective melancholy. Indeed, no band in modern music has surpassed Anathema in terms of emotional awareness through climactic song-craft.

"Did you try to reason why? Look yourself in the eye? What you are is all you have been. What will be is all you do. Now spill a tear as your sense of self slowly melts away. Until death's mirror reflects the meaning of our lives, we wander aimless and mesmerized as the fear starts to rise."

The band's seventh full-length recording, A Natural Disaster, is yet another exhibit, as if any more proof were required. Composed entirely by guitarist Daniel Cavangah, the album does not venture far from the course explored on A Fine Day To Exit, yet is an overall darker and more personal work. There is a more prominent ambience to this material that lends the album a deeper sense of self-contemplation. Songs are generally given more of a relaxed position upon which the band's mastery of dynamics operates, occasionally rising to powerful outbursts of metallic root, as in "Closer", "Balance" and the gorgeous and touching closing instrumental, "Violence", which unexpectedly erupts from a plaintive piano/guitar foundation into a fury of breakneck drums and yearning guitars before settling back into its opening theme. Elsewhere, songs such as "Are You There" and "Electricity" hold true to their atmospheric tranquillity in the expression of the band's trademark heartbreaking sadness, while "Pulled Under At 2000 Meters A Second" is the heaviest, fastest, and darkest moment of the disc, a whipping, angry song that can perhaps be viewed as the nihilistic twin of A Fine Day To Exit's "Panic".

"Freedom is only a hallucination that waits at the edge of the distant horizon. And we are all strangers in global illusion, wanting and needing impossible heaven. Chasing the dream as they swim out to sea, the mirage ahead says that they can be free. Become lost in delusion, drowning their reason, swept on by the current of selfish ambition. Frightened, ashamed, and afraid of the blame. The questions are screaming, the answers are hiding. The sickness is growing. Distracted condition. You can feel the disgust and smell the confusion. Lying insane, getting soaked in the rain, draining the sky of the guilt and the shame. The nightmare is coming, the clouds are descending..."

As brilliant as this music is, the album does not attain perfection. The production is uneven, and at times this unfortunately interferes with the overall mood of a particular song, such as the flat drum sound during "Are You There?" and the far too low vocals during "Electricity". The songs are fantastic in their own right, yet should have been allowed more consistency of flow through a suitable sound. The vocal performances by Vincent Cavanagh and Lee Douglas are gripping and spectacular, yet Daniel's singing on "Are You There?" and "Electricity" is simply too restrained for such emotionally penetrating lyrics and music. It is quite understandable that these songs are deeply personal to him, hence his decision to sing them, however, the impact of these songs would no doubt be enhanced by the lead voice of Vincent Cavanagh, or Douglas. Daniel Cavanagh is, to my ears, the finest guitarist in music in regards to pure feeling generated from his instrument in relation to a composition (witness his supreme ascension in the final moments of "Flying" and his excellent subtlety throughout "Violence") , yet his voice is simply not suited to carry an entire song that demands a convincing and powerful vocal performance. Vincent Cavanagh is a highly gifted vocalist who possesses a phenomenal range of expression. He is the band's vocal ticket to achieving the ultimate emotional truth their music aspires to, and he should be utilized to the greatest extent.

A Natural Disaster, in spite of its slight shortcomings, is another fabulous album from this incredible act. Their sound is clearly showing the inspirations of modern art-rock acts such as Mogwai and Radiohead while maintaining the long established Pink Floyd admiration, yet what makes Anathema a more rewarding proposition is the emotional honesty and genuine sincerity that forms the core of everything this band has ever produced. Equally, Anathema are unrivaled in the arena of dynamics. The art of building towards a sweeping climax is mastered only through an understanding of perfect hesitancy and patience, and in this, Anathema know no masters. While 1999's Judgement remains the band's finest hour, A Natural Disaster is a special work that should elevate this band to a higher status of appreciation, beyond it being universally understood as good music.

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Send comments to bleak (BETA) | Report this review (#85999)
Posted Sunday, August 06, 2006 | Review Permalink
Fishy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A few years ago, I was pretty surprised by this stunning record. Till then, I only knew Anathema vaguely from the previous album. I did like "a fine day to exit" but it didn't blew me away either but " a natural disaster" does. Why ? I remember it was autumn when this album was initially released and it left me longing for the long winter nights by the fire. Listening to the album, you actually can feel the cold and turbulent sky coming in. The second and third track which flow into each other are perfect examples. "Balance" has some early Radiohead influences which you'll easily notice by listening to the vocals and noisy guitars. These elements seem to return throughout the album every once in a while. In other moments the backing vocals seem a combination between a death grunt and the chaotic shouting we know from PF - The Wall. Musical greatness starts with the first tones of "closer". Maybe this is personal but this must be one of the most captivating songs I ever heard. The track is based upon a simple, yet not less effective, keyboard melody. At first you hear it in its bare essence but then there's gradually the addition of more noises like the synthetic voice at the beginning and some meaty guitar riffs and psychedelic effects. Throughout the track, the tension is growing till.it drops and leaves you with a reprise of the same keyboard melody. Awesome !!!!

Let's take a look at some other highlights.

"childhood's dream" is a mediaeval instrumental with a beautiful acoustic guitar line. The background is filled with colourful layers of dark keys. Splendid atmosphere !

Since the beginning days of the band, there has been a lot of water under the bridge. "Pulled under at 2000 metres a second" shows a glimpse of the music they use to produce in the past. The only real up-tempo track on the album starts with the appearance of dark clouds coming in through sinister keyboard parts. Soon the massive and wild guitar riffs are disturbing the mood with a full blown guitar sound with a sort of Roger waters vocal line on top.

Like it should be on every album, the title track of "a natural disaster" is the best of what this album has to offer. The moving melody, sung by a female vocalist, strikes my heart. Some delicate shades of solo guitar & keyboard on the background make the picture complete.

The wonderful closing track "violence" sums up all the qualities you'll find elsewhere on this album. Again, there's a tension that builds up to a climax and after that, you get a silent, reflective, orchestral ending that could easily fit in on an ambient album.

A natural disaster is not a happy album. Compared to "a fine day to exit", the album sounds much more intimate, calmer and depressing at some points. This is not a typical prog album either, it opens the door to listeners of melodic rock in general. Moreover the emotional level of the music is constantly high. "A natural disaster" is one of the sole records that shows a perfect balance between musical perfection and emotion. Every sound you hear is meant to be there. There's plenty of prog elements in the delicate way all instruments are handled. In other words : This album sounds like the way the cover art looks : a mysterious, beautiful, but somehow disturbing, painting.

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Send comments to Fishy (BETA) | Report this review (#88419)
Posted Tuesday, August 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3.5 stars. Danny Cavanagh actually left the band after the tour for "A Fine Day To Exit", depressed at the lack of success for that record, he joined former ANATHEMA member Duncan Patterson's band ANTIMATTER and played on their "Saviour" record. Danny would come back along with another brother, Jamie (Vincent's twin) and the result would be "A Natural Disaster". Danny wrote all the songs except for "Balance" (a group effort) and so this record is really Danny's baby. This in itself is unusual as ANATHEMA records have always been a shared endeavour. I will say ANATHEMA's lyrics have always been some of the best in the music industry, but this may be their finest. Travis Smith did the cover art. The subject matter is about internal disasters, the inner conflicts we all experience. The lyrics are great but the music for me is a let down. Where did the power go ? Lots of ambience but little to contrast it with.

"Harmonium" opens with the resonant vocals of Vincent and atmospheric keys creating a pastoral soundscape until about 2 1/2 minutes in when the drums thunder and the mood is changed. "Balance" is in the same vein as "Harmonium" nice start to the record. "Closer" really stands out as the vocals are sung through a vocoder giving the song a unique sound to say the least. The rhythm section really carries this piece. "Are You There ?" opens with female vocal melodies and is just plain beautiful and emotional.

"Children Dream" is pretty much a child's voice with gentle keys and guitar played sparingly. "Pulled Under At 2000 Meters A Second" reminds me of "Panic" on their last record , a real rocker. Another highlight is "A Natural Disaster" sung by Lee Douglas with a mellow soundscape. "Flying" is another mellow track with vocals. "Electricity" is similar but with Danny singing. "Violence" starts off with gentle piano and builds to a fury. I swear my arms get tired just hearing John drum on this section of the song. The song returns to tranquility once again as the album comes to a close.

It just seems like the lyrics have taken the priority over the music. I think this is called the Roger Waters syndrome.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#90836)
Posted Wednesday, September 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars 2 stars at first, but I lift it to three to show my appreciation. In my opinion, this is definitely better than Judgement.

Very atmospheric.

This is maybe best alternative post-pop/rock/Metal I've heard besides Mew's "And the Glass Handed Kites". But I still won't give the four stars it my deserve, though my appreciation towards Air Metal has increased - especially with this album. Songs are slowly expanding and diverse enough. But still too sell-out - and that's not the problem itself but the music which I get bored soon. 5 stars for pop album. (Although it isn't pop). Almost three stars here, or maybe three. But for example "Childhood Dream" and "Electricity" are just [&*!#] and useless fillers, although you don't notice it straight away for the music is so post-post-symphonic and the emotionality, mood musicality is misleading everybody.

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Send comments to progressive (BETA) | Report this review (#91466)
Posted Saturday, September 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
OpethGuitarist
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Somber sadness.

While not being overly progressive here, Anathema has tapped into their song-writing genes and continue to craft melancholic, spiritual like tracks. Again it is mostly slow, prodding music that can get under your skin if you let it. This album has more Pink Floyd qualities than Radiohead influences because of the darker themes and subtle changes from A Fine Day to Exit.

The most unique track is perhaps Closer, which reminds me of Ulver with regard to electronic and vocal experimentation (not with style) and the effect created is very sci-fi in quality. There is another cringeworthy rocker on this one, much like Panic was on the previous album. The female vocals on the title track feel very soothing and have a nature quality to them. My personal favorite track is Flying, which combines many of Anathema's elements for one very emotional song.

I like this album more than A Fine Day to Exit, as it's the only album they have which has an equivalent sound. Again, this is not really progressive metal at this stage, and borders more towards art rock/progressive pop than anything else. Again, a very talented and artistic band that for whatever reason never gained much of a fanbase.

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Send comments to OpethGuitarist (BETA) | Report this review (#113172)
Posted Thursday, February 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Another progression in sound that shows the emotive professionalism and artistic song writing of Anathema-- "A Natural Disaster" is a beautiful, well orchestrated album from start to finish.

The band's playing is at its artistic peak throughout this album, with all members doing things with their respective instruments (or voice), which elevates them as musicians. They produce poignant soundscapes as well as powerful riffs on each album, the versatility of which is one of "Natural Disasters"s strongest points. However, the quite songs do steal the spotlight-- something that rarely happens when they are mixed in with such powerful, heavy ones.

Interestingly, Cavanagh's vocals, which have always been a trademark of the band, almost fade into the background of this album's sound... but the songs are so well played that the album retains its emotional impact even when his voice is absent. This is most evident on the tender/heavy closing song, "Violence", which is nothing if not elegant and touching.

All in all a different, and very successful change of pace for the band, and an album that is easy to fall in love with.

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: 4 Style/Emotion/Replay: 5

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Send comments to Prog Leviathan (BETA) | Report this review (#119018)
Posted Thursday, April 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
Moatilliatta
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Anathema finally makes an interesting album!

OK, so Alternative 4 and Judgement weren't bad, but they didn't have enough variety in sound to keep me interested. When they issued A Fine Day to Exit, I found it to be a pleasant change of pace for the group - it was necessary to continue their evolution, and the next logical step would be to remove the metal from their sound - though the album failed to accomplish much. With A Natural Disaster, Anathema fulfill what they did not on its predecessor. This album has a greater atmosphere and variety than anything we've heard from the band. Vincent Cavanaugh's rather gentle and emotive voice continues to improve. He shines on the softer numbers "Balance," "Are You There?" and "Electricity." The delicacy of these tracks is quite nice; I am very pleased that they allowed these parts more time to breath. Typically in the past, the band wouldn't allow the clean segments to run very long, sometimes bringing the distortion in prematurely. Here, the ideas are given more time to be stretched out and the result is often stunning. "Balance" still brings in the rock for a powerful climax, though. There is also an interesting electronic patch on the vocals in "Closer" that I would relate to Mogwai before the song explodes 2/3 of the way in after a gradual build where you even here some growling buried in the mix. "Pulled Under at 2000 Meters Per Second" is a heavy, fast-paced song unlike anything we've heard from them. "Violence" is a solid instrumental closer, starting with some light piano and then after about 2 minutes it quickly builds into a heavy section that runs for a few minutes before it fades into some more light piano beneath a light soundscape. The only real weakspots are the opener and "Flying," of which the latter manages to redeem some of its weakness toward the end of the song.

I am quite pleased with Anathema this time around. The songs have more breadth and less doom 'n' gloom than I've come to expect from them. Their next album should be killer.

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Send comments to Moatilliatta (BETA) | Report this review (#168236)
Posted Sunday, April 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars A natural development

Anthema's latest album at time of writing (2008) is already some 5 years old. Comprising of the by now familiar influences ranging from Porcupine Tree and Pink Floyd to the gothic style of Sisters of Mercy and The Mission, the album consolidates rather than develops what has gone before.

The opening "Harmonium" deceptively sets out as a lush keyboards piece before the heavy gothic rhythm powers in, reminding us of the band's former life. "Balance" on the other hand lightens things considerably, the Radiohead like atmosphere being radio friendly. The song segues straight into one of Anathema's most uncharacteristic songs ever. "Closer" has all the feel of a Kraftwerk number, complete with distorted electronic voices and repeating rhythms. It is an ambitious piece which actually works very well.

Principal songwriter for the album Daniel Cavanagh sings lead vocals on "Are you there", with Anna Livingstone providing ethereal female vocal accompaniment. The song is a delicate ballad like piece which builds slightly but remains understated. It is followed by a similarly soft instrumental track "Childhood dream", which features a strong, haunting baseline.

"Pulled Under 2000 metres a second" appears to borrow freely from Pink Floyd's "Animals" album, while delving deep into fast paced metal territory. The title track features unaccredited female lead vocals, presumably supplied by the aforementioned Anna Livingstone. While pleasant, the song has the feel of a Tori Amos or KT Tunstall number.

It seems an obvious thing to say, but "Flying" is another melancholy song. Here the mood is mainly acoustic, reverting to the Radiohead ballad style. The cascading guitar-work here is the highlight of the song. "Electricity" is a shorter number once again in the depressive style reminiscent of Talk Talk's final albums. The album closes with the 11 minute instrumental "Violence". The piece starts with "Moonlight sonata" like piano, joined by lilting guitar. This gives way to a building melee of guitars and keyboards becoming ever more frantic. There's actually a slight Camel feel here, and certainly a generally progressive atmosphere. Rather bizarrely, this fades rather than reaching a crescendo, to be replaced once again by the soft piano.

In all, an album which will please those who have been captured by the Anathema albums which immediately precede it. There is not a lot of progress or divergence here, apart perhaps from "Closer", but this is a well crafted and highly enjoyable release.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#175098)
Posted Wednesday, June 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars 'A Natural Disaster' - Anathema (9/10)

At the time of buying this album, I admitedly was not expecting something I would come to 'love.' I was already a great fan of Anathema, having loved their opus work 'Alternative 4,' and I figured that while this album was going to be good (after all, Anathema had a pretty good track record to that date) but probably not something that would really leave a resonant note with me. After all, this was an album that was pretty recent compared, released a fair bit after their 'golden age' (consisting of the prementioned 'Alternative 4' and the latter 'Judgement.') Regardless of any preconceptions, I slipped the CD into my player, and listened.

With the opening symphonic overtones of 'Harmonium,' this definately did not sound much like the Anathema I was used to. By the time the opening track hit it's sonic peak, I was pretty sure I was going to enjoy 'A Natural Disaster.'

My first true suprise did not come until the third track however. The first two still had an Anathema-typical melancholic art rock feel about them, but the atmospheric 'Closer' really challenged me to listen intently. Upon first song, I wasn't even totally aware a third song had started, as it had segued perfectly from the second song 'Balance' (which is a perfect climbing follow-up to the first song) into it's own riff...

The best way I can describe 'Closer' is as Anathema's version of an electronic trance track. It literally brings the listener into a 'trance' of sorts, and a robotic synth voice chants over a slow build-up of sonic power. While I can't guarantee that all prog-fans are going to enjoy 'Closer,' it was certainly an interesting suprise.

While I do love all the songs on here (there was a point I was going to call all of the songs on this album a 'highlight' of their own) I particularly like 'Are You There' (a beautiful love song) the emotive 'Flying' and the first 5 minutes of the monster track 'Violence,' which although it's not a multi-part suite like a typical prog fan would expect upon seeing an 11 minute track on a prog album, it's still great, although it would have been perfect if the last 5 minutes or so had been cut off, as they do seem to wander.

'A Natural Disaster' in total has actually changed my view of the band. From this point, I can't really listen to 'Alternative 4' without thinking of it as being excessively whiny and morose. With 'A Natural Disaster,' they channel their trademark melancholy through the use of maturity; a maturity that can only be brought on by years of musical experience.

This is an unexpected masterpiece, my friends. If you have 'A Natural Disaster' and don't love it already, I suggest you give it another listen, with these points in mind, and see if your feelings change. As it stands, 'A Natural Disaster' is possibly the best, most consistent work they have done.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#222020)
Posted Saturday, June 20, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Anathema walk on to a silent world.

A natural disaster, is the first album of Anathema, that electric guitar disappear. In this album you can listen, perfect atmosphere and emotional songs, is an album with the classic Anathema melodies. This record is a short moving away from the metal sound, but this is not less interesting from the past recordings, it's as atmosphere as it was.

Cavanagh family in this studio album, creates the most emotional and, at the same time, strong melodies decorated with great orchestrations. Songs like A natural disaster, Are you there, Flying and Closer, are so silent songs. Songs like Violence and Pulled under 2000 metres a second, are they only songs that have some heavy parts. All the band, in this record, walk on to a silent world but still on to Anathema world. Also, the sound is perfect.

3 stars, because is an album that everyone Anathema fans have to buy, and not to download.

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Send comments to Macubert (BETA) | Report this review (#247479)
Posted Saturday, October 31, 2009 | Review Permalink
Any Colour You Like
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars When Anathema released A Natural Disaster in 2004, few traces of the original Anathema remained. Gone are the true Doom riffs and vocals, replaced with merely hints of that former sound. A Natural Disaster owes much of its sound to atmospheric rock, and an increasing dose of electronic experimentation. One thing remains constant however, and that is the typical melancholic and reflective mood and songwriting flair of the band.

A Natural Disaster is much more restrained than any previous Anathema release, even by Judgement's standard. This does not mean the magic has gone, but it does force the listener to focus on other aspects of the overall sound. The album heavily focuses around themes of trust, and the relations between people. Again, Anathema is lyrically strong, neither falling into cliches, not abstract nonsensical dribble. Vocally, this is one of the most diverse band efforts yet, Vincent Cavanagh carries the album well, including a lovely distorted electronic section on "Closer". There are obvious hints to Pink Floyd in the album, borrowing themes and concepts throughout, but still maintaining a characteristic Anathema sound. Several tracks including "Flying" and "Violence" are highly commendable efforts that ultimately drag the album towards an interesting climax. Amid a melee of guitar and percussion thrash, "Violence" builds up to what would normally end in a violent thump of mid tempo metal, instead it quietly subsides into ambient minimalism. I was initially underwhelmed by the restraint shown by the band, however, such restraint comes across as a much more mature effort.

A Natural Disaster lacks the impact and power of Alternative 4 or Judgement, but gains somewhat in sonic diversity. While the concepts and instrumentation developed throughout the album seem like an apathetic move for the band; it simply lacks a certain punch and power that would push it beyond an underwhelming final summation.

Edit: In hindsight, I am far more underwhelmed with this release than I was initially. Approach with caution.

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Send comments to Any Colour You Like (BETA) | Report this review (#261662)
Posted Tuesday, January 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars After a stellar string of albums, A Natural Disaster comes off slightly disappointing. At its best this is still compelling melancholic rock, but on the whole there is too much average and sub-par material to list amongst Anathema's best.

The opening is very strong. Harmonium is a great textured rock. Similar to the previous album, the arrangement is rich with guitar effects and background synths. But it also brings back a heavier theme into Anathema's sound, a clear nod to their doom past. Next on are the two highlights of the album. Balance is a brooding crescendo that amounts to uncontrollable washes of sound on Closer. Both are very emotive pieces, featuring a watery organ sound that reminds me of Zeppelin's No Quarter. Closer is the most adventurous, with a repetitive mantra of uncanny vocoder voices. The discharge at the end is quite intense.

Unfortunately, the album loses its grip from then on. Are You There is a nice song bound to please many listeners but it has never done much to me, a bit too plaintive really. Childhood's Dream set a nice atmosphere, that could have worked if Pulled Under had been a stronger track. But the melodies have something too Roger Waters that I cant' put my finger on. Also the music isn't but a straightforward rocker without much interesting developments.

The title track is a delight though. Sung by Lee Douglas, the melodious female vocals are a relief after Cavanagh's rather grating tone on the preceding track. A Natural Disaster is rather sparse, slow bass chords and dry drums, the clean electric guitars add a minimal touch of minor chords. The gorgeous melody of the vocal gets all focus. Simply beautiful. Also Flying is a fine piece of mood rock, especially the gothic guitar lines at the end are very touching.

Electricity is an unexpected drop in quality. It's nothing bad but isn't this a Sigur Ross rip-off? The closing 10 minutes of Violence are completely redundant. It simply repeats the guitar lines from the last minutes of Flying on piano and gradually builds up to a short noisy climax in typical post-rock fashion. The last 6 minutes of it provide nothing more then a bit of loitering atmospheric piano and mellow synth strings.

I'd like to, but really can't give more then 3 stars. 4 would mean I rate it on the same level as Alternative 4, a landmark album that sits miles above this Natural Disaster. 3.5 rounded down will have to do.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#261987)
Posted Friday, January 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars This was the big leap for Anathema who first started out quite doomy before going slighlty more Alternative and now from this album on more atmospheric/ melancholic rock or post-rock as some people call it.

Now although it wasnt that big of a transaction to make it did alienate some fans at the same time gaining more, and i can see why, this is a very very solid album that tends to kinda loose itself a little, but in a good way.

Songs like PULLED UNDER AT 2000 METERS A SECOND have this almost Pink Floyd meets grunge vibe about it (this song's melody also sounds a LOT like Pink Floyd's Sheep) theres also some beautiful instrumental songs (CHILDHOOD DREAM, VIOLENCE) and the female vocals on the title track A NATURAL DISASTER really make a cool contrast for the rest of the album, theres a massive Pink Floyd influence on a few of these songs like the first two (HARMONIUM & BALANCE) and in the song CLOSER there is some cool use of vocoder,with that song and the amazing ARE YOU THERE being two of my personal favourites from the album.

Harmonium 8/10 Balance 7/10 Closer 9/10 Are You There 10/10 Childhood Dream 9/10 Pulled Under at 2000 Metres a Second 9/10 A Natural Disaster 8/10 Flying 8/10 Electricity 8/10 Violence 9/10

My Conclusion? This is the first full Anathema album i have had the pleasure of hearing, and i will be listening to some more in the very near future, great great band and a very good album, worth the buy.

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Send comments to FarBeyondProg (BETA) | Report this review (#282005)
Posted Friday, May 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars After randomly chosing this album while looking through the metal (yes you heard me) section in HMV, i was sceptical at whether or not it would be a good album but the reason i bought it was because of the cover (i like a good striking cover) the crimson drenched sunny sky, and the lone figure in the boat. I always wondered what the heck was going on, never did figure it out though.

The whole album is really melodic, apart from the heavy part on PULLED UNDER AT 2000 METRES A SECOND, its pretty strange the whole album to say the least especially the weird CHILDHOOD DREAM (the child on the song I mean its quite nice), the female vocals on A NATURAL DISASTER adds a slight change to the atmosphere thats incorporated on this album.

My favorites are HARMONIUM, CLOSER, A NATURAL DISASTER and ELECTRICITY

Its nice, it's not brilliant or anything just nice to listen to and relax while drifting off. Therefore I am going to give it 3 stars for being good, but not essential.

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Send comments to deathlifereborn (BETA) | Report this review (#284580)
Posted Wednesday, June 02, 2010 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A depressively excellent album ....!

Well, at the end I get used to the kind of music Anathema plays, especuially with this kind of music ... an experimental / post metal kind of thing. To me, as an old crak prog fans, this is an expansion of what Pink Flyd had done in the seventies, take it simpler with minimum involvement of electric instruments or so called unplugged in most of the songs. You have to be patient listening to the music as in most cases it moves so slowly. If you are under depression, do not try to listen to this music because I am afraid you will kill yourself alive.

At first, it was quite hard for me to enjoy the music not because of it's complex, it's more because of there is basically no music being presented as most songs rely heavily on vocal clarity. Anathema plays its music exactly in the same feel like Pink Floyd plays as time signatures play a very critical role in bringing the beauty of their music. Oh yes, you can find the sorts of Peter Gabriel rhythm section like the one in the opening track "Harmonium" (5:28) even though Pink Floyd is still the main foundation of the style. You may refer to the music of Radiohead, Carptree, Sylvan. Last Marillion albums also try to focus on this style but not as successful as Anathema.

"Balance" (3:58) starts with mice keyboard touch followed with drums in percussion mode and then enter the dragging vocal style of Vincent Cavanagh. I have to admit that Vincent's vocal quality is really good and it makes this song quite solid in composition. Even though there are repeated chords but I feel the song quite enjoyable. "Closer" (6:20) continues seamlessly in instrumental style with repeated chords. The instrumental sounds really depressing with the style that moves from soft into loud sounds. "Are You There?" (4:59) is another song-orientated music with vocal plays critical role.

What really surprises me is the sixth track titled "Pulled Under at 2000 Metres a Second" (5:23) which I think it's an outlier because it's the only song that has very different style than other songs in this album. It's heavy in nature, it's like a combination of metal and psychedelic music. In fact this track reminds me to Pink Floyd "Sheeps" from Animals album. It starts beautifully with Roger Waters like bass playing combined beautifully with longs sustain keyboard sounds followed with vocal that reminds me to Roger Waters. I like the part where the vocal starts to scream and the music turns to a full-blown metal music. WOW! It's really wonderful man! This song is my best favorite track from this album. It stirs my emotion and makes my adrenalin explodes. Oh man ... it's so energetic, so dynamic, so great! I love the bass playing, the vocal scream, the drum plaing, the guitar ..everything is so wonderful with this track! Nothing is bad at all, everything is so perfect!

Suddenly the music moves into so mellow and really cool composition of the title track "A Natural Disaster" (6:27) with a female vocal by Anna Livingstone. I feel like being releived after enjoying the previous track. It's like a nice break. It starts with slow guitar feels followed by a very great vocal voice of Anna Livingstone who sings really wholeheartedly. It is very slow in tempo but the feel of the music is really heartbreaking especially with the melody delevered by Anna in her vocal. It's really great!

Well .. what I can recommend you is BUY THIS ALBUM and you will never regret with it. Anathema knows what they are doing with their music, Yes, you might say that it's similar with Radiohead, Pink Floyd but still their music is different. I don't think Marillion under Hogarth years can create a music like this one. Marillion to me is now stuck in the middle, no creativity anymore. Sorry I have to mention Marillion as I am now disappointed with their music. While new bands like Anathema, Sylvan, Carptree take the lead in this kind of music. Try "Flying" (5:57) of this album ! You will love it man! So powerful. Keep on proggin' ...!!!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#289856)
Posted Saturday, July 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars I only have 2 Anathema albums, but I can guess that this is their best.

When I first heard this album, I wasn't a big fan of it (maybe it didn't meet up to certain expectations I had, what a snob I was), but listening to it the second time really made me understand that it just is flawless.

Perfectly aligned with every song having it's own amazing individualist characteristic and just the pure atmosphere of Anathema, this album will be listened to for many years to come for me.

Their was a difference between A Fine Day To Exit and this album, being that AFine Day had it's own sound, and this album was more of a culmanation of sounds (if that makes sense)

1. Harmonium - Grat intro. For some reason this song reminds me of Coldplay. Great buildup throughout. 10/10

2. Balance - Very Radiohead. Great vocals. 8/10

3. Closer - One of my favourite Anathema songs, mainly because of it's simplicity (and maybe the vocoder). 10/10

4. Are You There? - This is my brother's favourite Anathema song (I can see why) Very beautiful. 9/10

5. Childhood Dream - Quite odd instrumental with some odd noises. 8/10

6. Pulled Uunder At 2000 Meters A Second - Such a kick ass song. This song has been labelled as a vocal rip off to Pink Floyd's Sheep (but out of all the times music has been stole from Roger Waters, I would believe he would be proud of this song. The vocals rule, reminding me of Devin Townsend. 10/10

7. A Natural Disaster - Best song on the album. I love the female vocals. This song is so beautiful, it almost makes me cry everytime I hear it. 10/10

8. Flying - Great arrangement with an amazing chours. Quite cathcy. 10/10

9. Electricity - A beautiful piano and acoustic ballad. The chord changes at times are very beautiful. 9/10

10. Violence - A very ambient and oddly moving instrumental. I was listening to this song while eating my soggy cornflakes, and it really was quite universal. 9/10

CONCLUSION: Their best album... I think.

CONCLUSION:

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Send comments to arcane-beautiful (BETA) | Report this review (#298886)
Posted Sunday, September 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
EatThatPhonebook
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 4.5 stars really!!

Anathema's sixth album, when maturity has been reached by the band back in 1998 with their magnum opus "Alternative 4", and completed with their excellent "Judgement" the following year, is another step forward towards new horizons.

A near perfect album, an absolute gem, also very underrated and overlooked, that should absolutely be considered if you're interesting in this band. I was immediately hooked when I first heard the opening track, "Harmonium", one of Anathema's best and most powerful songs in my opinion. Basically, I fell in love with the album almost immediately.

In "A Natural Disaster" the Doom Metal influences are even less than in their previous effort, "Judgement", and Alternative and Progressive Rock reign supreme. The atmospheres are much calmer, a lot less alarmed and doomy. IN fact, all the violent moments are gone, replaced with beautiful, delicate songs, almost every one of them sublime and breathtaking.

"Harmonium" is, like I said, one of the best Anathema songs in my opinion. The dreamy and somewhat mysterious intro gets me every single time. The rest is also amazing.

"Balance" is another excellent song, not as good as the previous one, but still impressive in many moments. The mood here is soft, and the melody is exquisite.

"Closer" is one of Anathema's most sad and melancholic songs, probably due to the vocoder, and the synth's delicate and mysterious touch.

"Are You There?" is another beauty, a masterpiece. The vocals here are amazing, the synth's as well, the atmosphere is very ethereal, like in no other song from this band.

"Childhood Dream" is an eerie interlude, with some creepy effects that accompany the sounds of a baby. Perfect.

"Pulled Under...." is another excellent song, full of haunting moments, especially the powerful chorus.

"A Natural Disaster" is a great song, especially live (I saw them last night, great show!) and the female vocals are simply amazing.

"Flying" has a beautiful, haunting and calm chorus, The verses also are fantastic, and the arrangements are really good.

"Electricity" is another, fantastic song, with a vey calm mood and delicate melodies.

"Violence" is the song that prevents me from giving this album 5 stars: long, very boring at times, it's just not well done in my opinion.

To conclude, I absolutely loved the album and almost all the songs in it. A near-perfect album, essential for whoever likes this band.

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Send comments to EatThatPhonebook (BETA) | Report this review (#318780)
Posted Sunday, November 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is definitely a more consistently melodic album than its predecessors, with large swathes of the album being focussed on keyboards and synthesisers. Effective use is made of vocal synths as well, adding an extra dimension of sound to the album, with tracks like 'Closer'. There is, however, one strikingly contrasting track dedicated to their aggressive metal sound, as the band are 'pulled under at 2000 metres a second'.

The lyrics, as always, play a central role in the album's depressingly bleak beauty, delivered, as ever, by Cavanagh's angelically sweet voice. Songs like "are you there?" seem to allude strongly to the brothers' feelings over their mother's passing, whilst 'flying' seems to ruminate on the sensations at one's own death. In the tracks featuring the voice synths, however, the words are rather harder to discern. Instead, one is left with the impression that the voice has been used more in an instrumental capacity, adding it's own mood and tone. For yet further variation, the title track makes use of gorgeous female vocals, seducing the ears of the listener with their melody.

The final track of the album, at over 10 minutes long, even manages to dabble a toe into 'prog epic' territory, with its foreboding-rich piano intro, leading into several minutes of prog-metal instrumental, presumably the violence of the track's title. This in turn giving way to more piano evocative of scenes of grief and mourning. We are, perhaps, to believe that the victim of the attack is passing on from this life, and idea reinforced by the way the track seems to rest in peace at its conclusion.

This is a good album, even by anathema's standards. It falls slightly short of the impact of Judgement, but remains a very worthwhile purchase, and one of the band's best.

4/5

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Send comments to stranded_starfish (BETA) | Report this review (#457500)
Posted Sunday, June 05, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Well, when some people talkt too much about an album or band I always say:'Music is meant to be listenend to, not to be blabbered about'.

This is exactly that. What is there to say?

You want music, you want to be in another place? You like dynamics?

This is music, the first song being a sign on the door informing you of what to come, you go, or sink, further untill they control your mind and let you see things, feel it and live.

Macro and mini dynamics, originality as well as playing around with known themes.

Ending in what is best described as something that grasps you more than you could ever expect from music.

This is music, this is life, this is the best album that is ever written and performed, without anyone or thing being incredibly good on its own.

The musicians, music, engineer etc just work together, no-one is a virtuoso or multi platinum producer, but together it is excellent.

When they asked Beethoven about the reason for the existence of music, he said: Ess muss ein!!!! It must be! It must!

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Send comments to be_art (BETA) | Report this review (#672730)
Posted Wednesday, March 21, 2012 | Review Permalink
SoundsofSeasons
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars please do not compare Anathema to anyone, even radiohead! i know that may be hardest to do with this album, but come on, they've been around long enough and evolved beyond labeling. (besides at the time of writing this review Weather Systems/ Were Here because Were Here prove Anathema is and will always be in the buisiness of evolving their sound every few albums)

this may be one of the most overlooked and underrated albums by Anathema, by any band of the genre even, and i think its a real shame. This is not a kind of technical band mate skill driven prog (not that this band even does that sort of thing.. but they are sooo subdued on this album!) Two of the highest rated albums by this band Judgement and Alternative 4 are the 'metal' ..ish albums and i believe that may be why this one is left the neglected child its so different from the rest of their stuff!

Experimental is what were looking at here, and in fact, one of those ahead of its time kind of albums. It is driven by a perfect balance of length and cohesion between songs, the album as a whole is even greater than the sum of its parts! Too often i must state the opposite with other albums ive reviewed.

Pacing. at 55 minutes i couldnt ask for a more perfect length, these are not epic songs.. they are carefully constructed pieces and by the way. NO weak one in the bunch.

Longevity. Ive owned it 2 years, still enjoy it.. even all the way through beginning to end mind you. (Dream Theater couldnt hold my attention through a whole album anymore if they actually tried!)

If you've never heard Anathema before.. yah go listen to Judgement. Alternative 4.. then when you've gotten that out of your system and fallen for Anathema open your heart to this one.

Masterpiece. and underappreciated at that.

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Send comments to SoundsofSeasons (BETA) | Report this review (#786967)
Posted Friday, July 13, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars I am going to post two reviews today using a different approach from usual for me. I had listened to this album twice through and then selected songs a number of times for random shuffle, but when I thought about how to review A Natural Disaster, I found myself stumped. So I listened to the album on my train ride home and typed what I heard as I went. This was a great way for me to identify exactly what songs and what parts I liked and why. As I recently purchased several CDs, it's been a slow process to digest all this new music. This method helped move things along.

I had heard about Anathema and saw their popularity on this site. I wanted to get one of their CDs but it was difficult to choose. Many of their albums have strong ratings here and I sampled a few of them by listening to the song snippets on Amazon. In the end, I decided to get A Natural Disaster. Here are my mostly unedited notes from my live, in-commute review.

Harmonium

Keyboard intro, downer lyrics and mood. Changes to heavy NIN like sound. Industrial beat. Not as aggressive as NIN or Filter but the heavy sound is good.

Balance and Closer

Sounds like Radiohead with delicate keyboard sound and atmosphere. Gets hard partway through but keeps a sound close to Radiohead. Suddenly there's a hard stop back to softer keyboard sound, robotic voice. Nice atmosphere. That is actually the third song, Closer that has begun. Flows nicely after Balance. Good continuity. Music rather steady and without much variation until guitar comes in partway through. Maybe a bit more like Porcupine Tree here. Intensity builds until the last minute and half. Back to keyboards and robotic voice.

Are You There

Mellow keyboards. Woman's voice in background. Male singing begins, a bit weak. Gentle guitar melody and drums. Not too impressed with this one. Weak vocals the main reason. Perhaps it creates a certain mood though.

Childhood Dream

Deep background bass note, echoey acoustic guitar very pretty, child's voice in the background. Piano comes in a little, tinkling of high notes. Woman's voice at the end. The child's voice sounds playful but not really cheery. There's a sadness here in the music.

Pulled Under at 2000 Metres a Second

Tense bass, synth. Sounds like a song by Spirit of the West - a folk/alternative,hard rock fusion band from Vancouver. Tension builds in voice and music. Song title is shouted, heavy music starts. Angry song. Furious. "Freedom is only a hallucination that waits at the end of the place where you go when you dream". Back to bass and synth. Tension backed off. Whispers. Back to heavy aggressive style.

A Natural Disaster

Gentle electric guitar chords. Female voice. Sounds like...who? Drums, song gets moving with same guitar chords. Woman's voice. Who does she sound like? Could sound like a different band here but I know they have some songs with a female vocalist. Effects come in to build the mood. A good song but not quite my taste. Basically 6:27 of the same music.

Flying

Backwards guitar effects? Gentle electric chords but background effects create the feeling that something will happen. Chorus starts but without drama. Singing is pretty strong. Drums and bass come in. Slow mid-tempo. Again, not bad but by now something more interesting is due. Guitar solo is simple cascading notes repeated but sounds pretty. Song closes with guitar solo notes played with a different wavering sound.

Electricity

Soft piano note. Vocals fast but gentle, a little hurried for effect. Simple strumming of acoustic guitar comes in. Background effects. Minimalistic music. Drums and bass come in but it's a slow steady song. Kind of pretty musically. Funny how a song called Electricity is largely acoustic and so mellow.

Violence

Another contrast. Violence starts with delicate piano notes and background effects of soft electric guitar notes. Pretty and sad intro. Beautiful. It ends at about 2:20 when bass and drums come in pounding a rapid rhythm, not too heavy yet. Guitar notes still sing though a little louder than they did with the piano. Tension builds and the drums go furious. Still the heavy pounding continues with beautiful guitar notes. A choir-like sound joins and the mood carries on until it all fades out and the gentle piano and guitar notes return. There is a pause and the piano plays a different gentle tune while strings - or at least synthesizer strings - subtly support the piano. The song ends slowly with sustained strings and tenderly plucked notes from the piano and a few weepy notes from the guitar. It's hard to think of this having any relation to ROCK music. Very pretty and just like relaxation music.

And so closes the album. A strong beginning but I felt it got a little weak in the middle and towards the end. The last song was interesting, adding an unusual touch to the closing of the album. I am not so sure this album will inspire me to get more Anathema albums but still I'd like to hear more of their earlier work as well as their later work. Oh, I love the album cover!

I think the music certainly fits into a progressive music category but I often felt I wanted something a little more interesting out of the rhythm guitar in particular. Definitely experimental in some ways. 3 stars for myself, 3.5 for this site but rounded down with some hesitation.

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Send comments to FragileKings (BETA) | Report this review (#798225)
Posted Thursday, August 02, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars 8/10

A simple breakthrough from A Fine Day to Exit, but does not equal the most recent material.

Well, Anathema is not the kind of band that makes the same album twice, but I found in The Natural Disaster a sort of "sequel" to Alternative 4. Especially because this album offers a little more "weight" than its predecessor, as evident on tracks like Pulled Under at 2000 Metres a Second, in addition to several experimental sounds (closing Violence). But overall what we see here is the progression of melancholic music and more post-rock albums of the past, which would culminate seven years later with We're Here Because He're (which remains my favorite band).

I have to admit that after my fantastic experience with the great Judgement (which is my second favorite band) I was slightly disappointed with his two albums sequential. The tracks that really are worth here are Closer, Are You There and the title track, which really are great jewels. The rest is not really bad, but does not impress me.

4 stars.

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Send comments to voliveira (BETA) | Report this review (#1008449)
Posted Tuesday, July 30, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album is excellent. From beginning to finish, the atmosphere of the music really moves you. It is definitely something that upon listening to you, can make you FEEL. The album sounds very somber but beautiful at the same time. And the feel of the album is very much like the album artwork portrays. I must say this sounds to me like the loneliest album I've ever listened to.

The first song Harmonium is a bit dull. It's a slow dreary song that has that "doom" feel from their doom metal days, minus the metal except toward the end. Honestly, the song does not really fit in, and is just kind've there and isn't that great of a song. Don't judge the album on its first song please though. The album really starts with "Balance" and then segues into "Closer" a song which is very original and surreal sounding. Closer in particular is perfect for listening to alone in the dark. The vocals are very haunting... done in an electronic voice. The lyrics to the songs on this album are very philosophical and emotional. And the keyboards are wonderful and otherworldly sounding. The album has much of a quiet, beautiful and melancholy mood, and by the time "Childhood Dream" comes around you may very well be close to drifting off into sleep (not out of boredom, but out of relaxation). That's when it suddenly hits you with "Pulled Under at 2000 Metres a Second" which builds up quickly into a very heavy blast of metal... but it's not the heavy metal you would bang your head to... it still has every bit of melancholy and desperation in it that many of Anathema's other quiet songs had. But the music and shouted vocals add to the feeling of agony and really moves you. Seriously, I can't listening to the song without getting goosebumps, and sometimes hearing the lyrics even makes me tear up. Such a powerful song.

It then slows down with a more alternative rock feel and continues with the beautiful sound it made in the beginning of the album throughout the next few songs. The final song "Violence" is an instrumental and begins quietly like the songs before it before building up into a loud, desperate heavy metal section which moves one in the same way Pulled Under does, before slowing down again with a lonely piano solo, and the transitioning into a part with keyboards and piano that sounds very reminiscent of "Cluster One" from Pink Floyd's "The Division Bell"

Overall this album is not very technical but it's beautiful and emotionally powerful as are all of Anathema's albums. This one in particular is probably one of the most melancholic sounding ones. It's a great album though, it offers spacey dreamy sounds, beautiful acoustic piano and guitar, a bit of alternative rock, and the occasional blast of heavy metal. (Though metal is not a very prominent part of this album and is only used when appropriate). The greatest thing is that the music, whether it's mellow or heavy, ALWAYS adds to the emotion of the album. This album will definitely make you FEEL.

This is an excellent addition to any collection. Four stars.

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Send comments to HammerOfPink (BETA) | Report this review (#1017298)
Posted Tuesday, August 13, 2013 | Review Permalink

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