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Experimental/Post Metal • United Kingdom

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Anathema biography
Founded as Pagan Angel in 1990 in Liverpool, UK

Their original line-up was: Darren White (vocals), Vincent Cavanagh (guitars), Daniel Cavanagh (guitars), Jamie Cavanagh (bass), and John Dougals (percussion), under the moniker PAGAN ANGEL. Since then, there's been too many line-up changes to mention here, although Vincent, Daniel, and John have all maintained status in the band, except Daniel briefly in 2002 (click on the album's for more line-up information). They would release one demo and then change their name to ANATHEMA. They released two more demo's and then were discovered by Hammy of Peaceville Records, who signed them. They went on to be the most overlooked gem of the '90's. Starting as romantic doom metal ("The Crestfallen", "Serenades", and "The Silent Enigma"), and then transitioning into an avant-garde experimental force. Each album bears evidence of progression. The vocals are always improving and becoming even more poignant, accenting the music and lyrics (which this band are probably the best lyricist's out there). "Eternity" was sort of a transitional album for them, somewhat abandoning the guttural cries of despondency and replacing that with Vincent Cavanagh's beautiful singing voice. Their influences range from PINK FLOYD to The BEATLES to RADIOHEAD. The future for ANATHEMA is promising because they are the future.

"The Cresfallen" and "Serenades" are mainly attracted by doom metal fans because of the pace of the music and Darren White's moody vocals. "Pentecost III" showed the band exploring long escapades into realms not traveled by any band in their genre. Also being the last release to feature Darren White on vocals. "The Silent Enigma" is a monumental album, blending beauty and despair, poetically. "Eternity" was the transitional album, where they explored the vast expanse of space (a la PINK FLOYD). "Alternative 4" and "Judgement" were both excellent editions to their catalogue, but lacking the experimentation of the next two albums. "A Fine Day to Exit" was a large step into various different soundscapes. It was followed by "A Natural Disaster," where they achieved a sound completely their own, surpassing even RADIOHEAD, with their absolute exploration of the unknown. "We're Here Because We're Here" was released in 2010 and continued to show signs of progression of the band's sound.

Highly recommended: "Pentecost III," "The Silent Enigma," Eternity," and "A Natural Disaster."

: : : Kurt Zander, USA : ...
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The OptimistThe Optimist
$15.22 (used)
Distant Satellites ( Cd & Dvd Set )Distant Satellites ( Cd & Dvd Set )
$13.34 (used)
$11.16 (used)
Weather SystemsWeather Systems
The End Records 2012
$11.44 (used)
We're Here Because We're HereWe're Here Because We're Here
The End Records 2011
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Reissued · Extra tracks
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Extra tracks
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A Sort Of HomecomingA Sort Of Homecoming
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Alternative 4 ( Lp )Alternative 4 ( Lp )
$12.99 (used)
Pentecost 3Pentecost 3
$10.45 (used)
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ANATHEMA discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

ANATHEMA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.34 | 199 ratings
3.14 | 232 ratings
The Silent Enigma
3.60 | 322 ratings
4.07 | 567 ratings
Alternative 4
4.16 | 650 ratings
3.83 | 458 ratings
A Fine Day To Exit
3.90 | 521 ratings
A Natural Disaster
4.05 | 852 ratings
We're Here Because We're Here
3.81 | 387 ratings
Falling Deeper
4.02 | 856 ratings
Weather Systems
3.67 | 408 ratings
Distant Satellites
3.56 | 120 ratings
The Optimist

ANATHEMA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.46 | 81 ratings
3.94 | 35 ratings
A Sort of Homecoming

ANATHEMA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.38 | 29 ratings
A Vision Of A Dying Embrace
3.33 | 49 ratings
Were You There live
3.45 | 64 ratings
A Moment in Time
4.51 | 133 ratings

ANATHEMA Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.59 | 25 ratings
Serenades + Crestfallen
3.19 | 36 ratings
Resonance: Best of Anathema
2.63 | 28 ratings
Resonance 2
3.93 | 148 ratings
4.43 | 23 ratings
Original Album Classics
4.13 | 8 ratings
Resonance 1 & 2
4.17 | 6 ratings
Fine Days 1999 - 2004

ANATHEMA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

1.34 | 13 ratings
An Iliad of Woes
2.06 | 13 ratings
All Faith is Lost
3.10 | 10 ratings
They Die 7''
2.24 | 58 ratings
The Crestfallen
2.64 | 14 ratings
We are the Bible 7''
2.89 | 68 ratings
Pentecost III
1.63 | 11 ratings
Alternative Future
2.39 | 12 ratings
Make it Right
2.63 | 18 ratings
3.73 | 15 ratings
3.30 | 10 ratings
Unchained (Tales Of The Unexpected)
4.45 | 34 ratings
3.25 | 4 ratings
Dreaming Light
2.67 | 3 ratings
Untouchable Part 1
2.67 | 3 ratings
Untouchable Part 2
2.00 | 2 ratings
The Lost Song Part 3
3.00 | 2 ratings


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Optimist by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.56 | 120 ratings

The Optimist
Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I've been a pretty huge fan of this band over the years so I was really pumped when I heard they were doing an album that was to close the chapter on "A Fine Day To Exit" from 2001. This isn't a new idea but one that is intriguing to say the least. But why bother? Well back in 2001 the critics were all over this band for the apparent positive spin on suicide based on that album cover showing a car parked on the beach with a man's clothes and shoes cast on the beach with him nowhere to be seen. In the car we see notes including one that has "A Fine Day To Exit" on it, plus there's beer cans, a liquor bottle, a cell phone with "missed call" on it, a bottle of pills and a gun. Also a picture of him, his wife and son. The man was on a mission to end his life but the question is why? And did he? Well there wouldn't be a part two if he had drowned in the water which I think is something you would know if you listened to the ending of that album. I stated in my review at the time that he was still alive based on that final track.

So maybe this is an answer to the critics but I also feel it's closure to an album that had more questions than answers. Having said that they really keep things close to the vest as to why he was going to end his life leaving a lot of hints on this record in the process. They seemed pretty intent on putting a positive spin on this one and hence on "A Fine Day To Exit" even with the title of this record. This feels like they're changing the perceived negativity that many had for "A Fine Day To Exit". Also they even have their name on this album spelled differently as ANA_THEMA. I would describe the music and lyrics as meaningful and emotional. More electronics than ever and the sound is fairly stripped down with plenty of piano at times. Travis Smith takes care of the art work once again.

So what's this all about? Well I can't be sure but based on a couple of things I think he may have lost his son which was the reason for the suicidal attitude. Just a hunch based on the album cover of "A Fine Day To Exit" which shows the face of a boy in that car parked on the beach. On the back cover of the same album the father is shown driving at night and seeing this boy on the road. Clearly a ghost and "The Optimist" has a song called "Ghosts" but perhaps the biggest detail is the final moments of this album where our subject pulls up to a house knocks on the door and as it opens there's a pause and then he says "How are you?"(he's back) then minutes of silence before we hear our subject years later I believe playing with his new baby son as birds chirp. He's so happy here unlike the recent past. The Optimist indeed.

"32.63N 117.14W" is the exact coordinates of Silver Strand Beach in San Diego California where our story takes place. Love the connection between the two albums as the seemingly never ending waves that ended "A Fine Day To Exit" start us off here as we hear our subject breathing very heavily as he gets back into his car and starts it up. Then he starts to find a radio station. It ends with electronic beats and this blends into "Leaving It Behind" a top three track for me. I really like the guitar that joins the beats as male vocals also join in. A fuller sound 1 1/2 minutes in and it's even fuller before 2 1/2 minutes as they rip it up here. Nice. Back to the beats and atmosphere before 3 minutes.

"Endless Ways" is where we hear the wondrous vocals of Lee Douglas. She joins the piano that opens the song then beats and strings are added before it kicks in to a more powerful sound a minute later. His cell phone can be heard ringing(poor wife). "The Optimist" starts with piano as male vocals join in. Lee comes in as well giving us a rare listen to ANATHEMA having male and female vocals working together. Strings too then we get a full sound after 2 minutes. A calm with strings before 3 minutes then it builds to a full instrumental sound as Lee then offers up some passionate vocal melodies. A calm after 5 minutes ends it.

"San Francisco" is maybe where our subject went eventually after not going through with the suicide. This is a fast paced instrumental as we get piano and electronic beats at first and there's more depth of sound before 3 1/2 minutes. A train can be heard to end it. "Springfield" is my favourite song on here. Relaxed guitar to start and it's sparse. Piano too along with atmosphere then drums. Lee comes in singing this line over and over "How did I get here, I don't belong here". Love the Post-Rock guitars that absolutely light up the soundscape. So much emotion here. Whispered male words with sirens in the background ends it.

"Ghosts" is spacey before Lee along with piano and drums take over. Her voice sounds so beautiful here after a minute. Lots of atmosphere too. "Can't Let Go" is a top three for me. Some energy here with busy drumming, guitar and male vocals. The music ends and then you can hear someone walking, opening and closing a door then turning on the radio. "Close Your Eyes" opens with relaxed piano in atmosphere as Lee comes in singing slowly. Some guest trombone before 2 1/2 minutes with a beat as the vocals step aside briefly. "Wild Fires" is something California knows all too well. Piano as male vocals come and go. Electronic beats after 2 minutes then it kicks in heavily before 3 1/2 minutes. It settles down before 5 minutes and waves can be heard as it blends into "Back To The Start" the almost 12 minute closer.

There are minutes of silence here which are important to the story. Acoustic guitar joins the waves then reserved male vocals. A fuller sound before 1 1/2 minutes minus the waves. Orchestral sounds after 4 minutes as the vocals stop. They're back after 5 minutes. The music fades away after 7 minutes as we hear a knock at a door and as it opens a pause before he says "How are you?" After minutes of silence which I believe represent years we get acoustic guitar along with birds chirping and the sound of a baby boy talking with his dad. Our subject is so happy to be with his new son. The optimist.

I'm probably way off here with my thoughts on what the two albums are all about but I have to say the concept adds to my rating here. The music while having many incredible moments needed that extra bump from the lyrics to be a 4 star album which I believe it is. I also know like Drew mentions in his review that months with this could bump it up even higher. Man has this band changed it's stripes over the years.

 The Optimist by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.56 | 120 ratings

The Optimist
Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars A collection of wonderfully engaging, melodic songs all melding together quite well.

1. "32.63n 117.14w" (1:18) more like a dramatic intro to a radio theatre play.

2. "Leaving It Behind" (4:27) computer rhythm track of pops and clicks with guitars and vocals for the first two minutes before the drums and full band join in. Driving and insistent and typical of the band, though a bit more hard and heavy than recent songs. Good song. (8/10)

3. "Endless Ways" (5:49) A sensitive piano-based song featuring the incredible vocal talents of Lee Douglas from start to finish, this is just one awesomely beautiful song--one of the best songs I've heard all year. In true Post Rock fashion, it builds and crescendos, yet it never loses its heart-wrenching, romantic spirit--thanks to the stupendous performance and presentation of Douglas's vocal. Plus, I adore its chosen message. "The dream I created." Say no more. (10/10)

4. "The Optimist" (5:37) opens as if a reprise of the previous song, but then one of the Cavanaugh brothers's voices enters to tell you differently. (Lee does pop up in the background at the end of the first and second minutes.) It does take over two minutes until the full band joins in, but that's about my only complaint to this beautiful song. I love it when the band use orchestral support (as in the album Falling Deeper--my favorite album they've ever done) and the fact that the final two minutes is a Post Rock instrumental, buildup, crescendo, and fade. (9/10)

5. "San Francisco" (4:59) again there is a tremendous familiarity to the piano opening of this song--like I've already heard it in a variation on this very same album--but then, as it plays out as an instrumental, we are treated to the buildup coming from--surprise--the computerized rhythms (and, later, synthesizers). It could almost qualify as a house/rave song! Still, a very satisfying, engaging song, start to finish. (9.5/10)

6. "Springfield" (5:49) a true Post Rock song with Lee Douglas's haunting background repetitions of "How did I get here?" and "I don't belong here" the most memorable parts. (8.5/10)

7. "Ghosts" (4:17) another stunning piano-based song featuring Lee Douglas on lead vocals. I like the drum play here very much. (9/10)

8. "Can't Let Go" (5:00) a true rock song--a good one! (8.5/10)

9. "Close Your Eyes" (3:39) a true jazz torch song. Very much like a sensitive, masterful Kate BUSH piano-based song from her last 50 Words for Snow album. Cool! (9/10)

10. "Wildfires" (5:40) could be an ULVER song (whichmakes sense since the Cavanaugh brothers have been working with Garm and crew a lot over the past few years)! Awesome and powerful! Amazing crescendo! (9.5/10)

11. "Back To The Start" (11:41) a great, sensitive 7-minute prog song (' la STEVEN WILSON) followed by four minutes of emptiness and then four minutes of vacuous family stuff that does not belong on the album. Too bad! (9/10)

A minor masterpiece of progressive rock music. I like their sound, love the songs, and, after five months with the album, I'm finally convinced that this one is ready for the elevated status.

 The Optimist by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.56 | 120 ratings

The Optimist
Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Why, Anathema? Why?

Distant Satellites was by no means a bad album. It had even truly brilliant moments. But its experimental parts were too vague and disoriented. And The Optimist is sadly a follow-up of all this. We can hear a band trying to retrieve the alternative feeling of A Fine Day to Exit without achieving that, offering a monotonous and repetitive collection of songs unworthy of a band with this status.

32.63N 117.14W is just a brief introduction to Leave it Behind, which starts with the typical Anathema guitar, which automatically bring to mind the most alternative records of the band like the aforementioned A Fine Day to Exit or A Natural Disaster, despite its horrible electronic rhythm at the beginning of the song. But the song it's too repetitive to be considered a brilliant track, and the instrumental interlude is just awful.

Endless Ways brings the much appreciated Lee's voice and the album automatically get better. In addition, the orchestral arrangements of the song are beautiful. Sadly this track is also too repetitive for my taste, but better than The Optimist nevertheless, which is a dull and absolutely not inspired song, despite its fine guitar melodies towards the end. Till this point the quality of the album is not good, but acceptable.

But then we find San Francisco... A piano melody which repeats itself during four minutes without any kind of progression or interest, apart from its U2-type guitars. What the hell is that? Are you trying to cheat us, guys? And Springfield is even worse, another swindle with absurd lyrics and repetitive melodies... Again. Because that's the main problem of this album. The melodies and compositions are Ok, but the repetition of the same melodies again and again in almost every song give an impression of vagrancy and lack of compositional work that deeply disappoints me coming from one of my favorite bands.

Luckily, Ghosts is the best track of The Optimist. Very beautiful orchestral arrangements (this album is pretty symphonic) and vocal melodies from Lee, who sings a rather brief text. That's another interesting point of the album... The lyrics are pretty short in words and ideas. I don't really know the goal of this very minimalistic approach in the lyrics, but that's also a disappointment coming from a band with wonders like One Last Goodbye.

Can't Let Go is more lively and more guitar-oriented. Vincent's voice sounds very contained, like in the whole album... And that's also a shame, because his voice was so incredible in the previous albums! Nevertheless, it's a good song. In opposite to Close Your Eyes, another boring and insipid moment with uninspired lyrics. Only the final part with wind instruments which reminds me to Van Der Graaf Generator deserves a mention.

Wildfires is one of the lowest points of the album. Depressing, repetitive and with horrible vocal effects. I really don't know how a track like that could make it into the final record. Even the typical increase of intensity in its final part is foreseeable and lame. But Anathema had mercy of us and they managed to put a decent song at the end of the CD named Back to Start, which contains good verses with a warm interpretation from Vincent and good piano melodies. The chorus is not so good and so is the final part, unnecessarily bombastic and pretentious. This could have been a good ending for a better album... But after the average or directly bad content of The Optimist, Back to Start is just utterly overblown.

Conclusion: The Optimist would be an average release for a novel band. But talking about Anathema, this record is their worst album, including their doom metal ones. A repetitive, uninspired and pretentious collection of songs with a worrying lack of ideas and direction. The attempt to retrieve the alternative rock of A Fine Day to Exit failed, and despite the orchestral arrangements the musicians don't shine like in other records of the band.

I really hope that they make it better in their next album, because after the just decent Distant Satellites and this mediocre The Optimist, I am really not so optimistic about the future of the band.

Best Tracks: Ghosts, Can't Let go, Back to Start.

My rating: **

 Distant Satellites by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.67 | 408 ratings

Distant Satellites
Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

3 stars After two rather similar (although fantastic) albums, Anathema tried to evolve their sound... But was it in the right direction?

The album starts brilliantly with the powerful The Lost Song Part 1, which follows the patch of Weather System but with a cleaner production, leaving a bit the familiar wall of guitars from previous releases. And we can also hear how Vincent sings even better than before! The voice of this man has no limits.

The Lost Song Part 2 is one of my favorites here thanks to the very sweet Lee's vocals and precious arrangements. The magic of Anathema is still here and it continues in Dusk despite its cheesy lyrics. This tune starts with the typical fast acoustic guitar and slowly increase its intensity towards and epic ending. This is pretty good, but maybe this Anathema formula sounds a bit old and overused here... Time for a change.

And Ariel is not really a change, but it's breathtakingly beautiful nevertheless. Marvelous vocals, great piano melodies, and a prodigious guitar. This song is pure magic, and one of the highlight of the album and also in Anathema's career. It's like that all that Anathema tried after A Natural Disaster came together in this very song. Just perfect!

Sadly The Lost Song Part 3 brings nothing really new to the other two, despite its powerful bass lines. It tries to recover the most alternative moments of A Fine Day To Exit and A Natural Disaster, but it fails. It's not bad, but it pales in comparison to the four previous tracks. But then comes Anathema! An autobiographic song which supposed a return to the Judgment's (and maybe Alternative 4) sound bit with an orchestral filter. Very intense and with great vocals from Vincent... Again.

And what the hell happened after this moment, guys?

When I first listened You're Not Alone I thought "Ok, it's just another experimental track... No luck this time. Let's hear the next song" And the next song is a very insipid keyboard instrumental track named Firelight. "Ok, the title track is of course better..." And what we found with Distant Satellites is a very ugly electronic rhythm for a very repetitive, not interesting and uninspired song. I just can't believe it! The album was very good till Anathema. And what's all this mess?

But Take Shelter starts good. And I thought "This will be a good Anathema song"... But no! The unnecessary electronic rhythms are back for a song which end in a pretentious and bombastic way, really inappropriate. It brings some melodies from the first songs back, but that's not enough to leave the listener really pleased with this very irregular album.

Conclusion: Distant Satellites is maybe the most irregular Anathema album. It has great songs like The Lost Song (Part 1 and 2) and Ariel, and some of their worst and more shameful moments (You're Not Alone, Distant Satellites) I think it's honorable, even necessary, when a band tries to evolve their sound. But the experiment that Anathema made in some of the songs included in Distant Satellites is just dull and wrong in my opinion.

It's by no means a bad album. It has even unforgettable moments, but there are other I would rather forget.

Best Tracks: The Lost Song Part 1, The Lost Song Part 2, Dusk, Ariel, Anathema.

My rating: ***

 Weather Systems by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.02 | 856 ratings

Weather Systems
Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

4 stars After their very welcomed comeback two years before, Anathema released an album just as good as We're Here Because We're Here. If not even better!

Steve Wilson was not involved in the mixing of the album this time, but the production is also splendid, with a bigger predominance of strings and an even more variaty of moods and ambiences. The direction in this album is a bit more melancholic of in the previous effort, especially in the second half of the album, but not so dramatic like in preterits times.

Untouchable, Pt. 1 opens the album brilliantly, with an obvious continuation in style and mood. I think that Weather Systems was composed through the years along with We're Here Because We're Here, because the two albums are rather similar and they share too many points in common. Great guitars, beautiful melodies and intimate lyrics.

Untouchable Pt. 2 is follows the same musical theme, but in a slower and very melodic way. Lee's voice is introduced in the second verse and in the second chorus Vincent and Lee offer a marvellous duet. Just marvellous! The Gathering of the Clouds opens in a very dramatic way, with fast guitars and ominous piano chords and overlapping vocals in the style of Savatage.

This song is some kind of introduction to Lightning Song, the best Anathema's song in my opinion and a moment of pure magic. Lee's voice is just disarming in this one, and so are the touching lyrics. I chose this song for the end of my wedding... And the guests were really surprised!

Sunlight comes with the voice of Daniel Cavanagh, and his warmth help to create another great song for this album. The Storm Before the Calm is just life Get Off Get Out, the experimental moment of the album. But luckily much better this time! The cold robotic voices are perfect for the lyrics, and the second half of the song is a return to the style of A Natural Disaster.

The Beginning And the End is in my opinion another highlight of this album, with its marvellous piano keyboard, strong bass and the best Vincent's singing. Period. Just an almost perfect song! Sadly The Lost Child is a bit boring and repetitive, despite its classicism and fine orchestral arrangement. And Daniel's singing is also not so good in this one.

Internal Landscapes follow the path is like a mix between Presence and Hindsight from the previous album, but better than both and with an outstanding central section in the purest Anathema's style. Intense and strong guitars, alongside a bit of prog and charming melodies.

Conclusion: Weather System was not a big surprised compared to We're Here Because We're Here. Is like a second part of this album, but a bit better in my opinion. The 2010 released had an outstanding first half, but a weaker second one. Weather System is regular and therefore more enjoyable as a whole, making it the third better Anathema album after Alternative 4 and Judgement.

Sadly the band would not be able to achieve this great level on later releases... But that's another story.

Best tracks: all of the, except the weaker The Lost Child.

My rating: ****1/2, rounded down to four stars.

 We're Here Because We're Here by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 2010
4.05 | 852 ratings

We're Here Because We're Here
Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

4 stars We had to wait seven years for Anathema to come back... And they returned with one of their best albums!

Taking the deep and mature sound of the underrated A Natural Disaster, Anathema developed their sound a steep further with the help of the mixing of Steven Wilson, achieving not only their best sounding release to date, but also their most homogeneous in terms of songwriting and quality.

Thin Air opens We're Here Because We're Here energically, with beautiful lyrics and enough progressive moments to satisfy the most demanding fans of the band. The general ambient of this song is a less dark and melancholic the in previous albums, offering a surprising change in the band's direction, a lot more optimistic and bright. Just like the cover of the album!

Summer Night Horizon brings back the best moments of A Natural Disaster with mellow melodies but intense drums and a precious duet between Vincent and Lee, confirming that this album of 2003 was an advance of what the band would later do. Dreaming Light is even better, and a tremendous proof of how Vincent Cavanagh improved his voice through the years. Maybe the lyrics are a bit corny, but that's not so important while we are hearing the marvelous guitar and keyboard solo.

Everything was a single that we heard years before We're Here Because We're Here was released, and a great song despite its obvious Coldplay influences. It's also a very good act in live performances of the band. Angels Walk Among Us is my favorite song of the album. Another sentimental lyrics with splendid guitar melodies in the background. Prodigious!

Presence is musically a follow up of the previous track, but it contains some kind of philosophical speech in consonance with the mood of the album. A Simple Mistake is a bit more melancholic, a bit in the vein of Judgement but without reaching the best moment of this album. A good track nevertheless, with strong guitars towards the end.

Get Off Get Out is the most experimental moment of the album, and also one of its lowest moment. Is not a bad song, just anodyne? Luckily Universal is a better. A orchestral song with beautiful singing from Vincent and a very powerful second half. This should have been the ending of the album, because Hindsight is just pleasant, but not brilliant. And also a bit too long, making a good second half of the album, but not so outstanding as the first five songs.

Conclusion: despite its weak moments, We're Here Because We're Here is a very good Anathema album. Sometimes even excellent. It introduced a brighter and more optimistic stage for the band, which would encounter an excellent follow-up on Weather Systems. It has also a very competent production and mixing (the hand of Steve Wilson is there) and even the sometimes showy lyrics can't ruin the excellent songwriting that the band achieved during its almost seven years without releasing an album.

Best Tacks: Thin Air, Summer Night Horizon, Dreaming Light, Everything, Angels Walk Among Us.

My rating: ****

 The Silent Enigma by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.14 | 232 ratings

The Silent Enigma
Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

3 stars A doom band trying to find a new path... That's The Silent Enigma.

After the dissappointing and boring Serenades, Anathema expanded their sound by introducing a lot of keyboards and even orchestral arrangements in an album with a much deeper songwriting and variety. The result is a doom/gothic record with traces of progressive rock and psychedelic elements which is really interesting and very important for the band's career.

The production is also better than in their previous release, while Vincent took his role in vocals that he would never leave. He can't really sing in this album, but he sound tortured and dramatic enough, making him an appropiate frontman for a doom metal band. They also used female voices here, another trademark of Anathema's sound.

The Silent Enigma opens with Restless Oblivion, which starts with a 100% Anthema-typical guitar. After that we find a strong doom metal track with powerful bass lines and aggresive voices. The composition is surprisingly variable, almost progressive. And so is also Shroud of Frost, with a tortured vocal line from Vincent and excellent Danny's guitars toward the end.

Alone is my favourite track on the entire record, starting with a mellow acoustic guitar and keyboard melody. After that comes a beautiful female voice, with a strong melancholic feeling which introduces the mood of later releases like Alternative 4 or Judgement. Sunset of Age is a bit more gothic, very melodic, while Nocturnal Emission is a slow doom metal track with surprising psychedelic elements.

Cerulean Twilight es another typical doom metal song which suddenly transforms itself in a semi-acoustic tune in its second half. The Silent Enigma has very good melodies and a romatic ambience in the vein of the later Eternity. Good song! And also pretty good is A Dying Wish, maybe the best song of the album with typical riffs and Anathema's first epoch.

Black Orchid is an appropiate instrumental ending which woks as a summary of the album's style, both mellow, romantic and very dark.

Conclusion: the fans of Anahtema's last records will be dissappointed with The Silent Enigma. But this was my first Anathema's album two decades ago, and I still have a special affection for it. It's a good example and a band searching new ways to expand their music while maintaining the core style of their first album. Therefore is a perfect recommendation for doom metal lovers, but also for people desirous to discover one of the most interesting and stimulating transformations in prog rock history.

Best Tracks: Alone, The Silent Enigma, A Dying Wish.

My Rating: ***

 Serenades by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 1993
2.34 | 199 ratings

Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by aglasshouse

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.

 The Optimist by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.56 | 120 ratings

The Optimist
Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Timdano

4 stars I'll keep it simple on this one: next-to-perfect. After about 20 or so spins the anthematic (is that a word; if not it should be) Anathema rises from what some see as a recent slump of semi-decent albums (in my humble opinion) to an album I can't put down.

The Optimist strikes such high notes - and emotionally low lows I'm not used to hearing from this band - flowing song to song in the story continued from A Fine Day to Exit.

My brief takeaway from about 20 spins:

- Dark and melancholic

- Stunning production

- Not dull as a lot of Distant Satellites was for me

How is it that this band doesn't fill stadiums and is not a household name? Sadly, there is no justice in the music scene.

 The Optimist by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.56 | 120 ratings

The Optimist
Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by javajeff

4 stars The Optimist is another solid album from Anathema, and more music from them is always welcome. Leaving it Behind is a track that starts things off after a concept oriented starter track, and reminds me of the Distant Satellites title track. There is no Lost Song part 1 & 2 or Untouchable 1 & 2, and as a result, The Optimist may be a little more accessible for nonprog folk. Leaving the last two cookie cutter albums alone, The Optimist falls into the mold between A Fine Day To Exit and A Natural Disaster. Since it is a sequel to 2001's A Fine Day to Exit, this makes sense. I enjoy the variety of their albums since it breaks up the monotony. The Optimist title track is a standout with lush orchestration and the familiar Anathema feel. The Optimist is an excellent addition to your collection, and it will be in my heavy rotation for a while. Only time will tell how it stacks up to their amazing catalog of albums.
Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to E&O Team for the last updates

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