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ANATHEMA

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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ANATHEMA discography


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

2.35 | 213 ratings
Serenades
1993
3.13 | 249 ratings
The Silent Enigma
1995
3.61 | 342 ratings
Eternity
1996
4.05 | 611 ratings
Alternative 4
1998
4.14 | 714 ratings
Judgement
1999
3.83 | 490 ratings
A Fine Day To Exit
2001
3.91 | 555 ratings
A Natural Disaster
2003
3.92 | 163 ratings
Hindsight
2008
4.05 | 906 ratings
We're Here Because We're Here
2010
3.81 | 412 ratings
Falling Deeper
2011
4.02 | 926 ratings
Weather Systems
2012
3.69 | 443 ratings
Distant Satellites
2014
3.62 | 154 ratings
The Optimist
2017

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

4.48 | 89 ratings
Untouchable
2013
3.96 | 44 ratings
A Sort of Homecoming
2015

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

3.37 | 33 ratings
A Vision Of A Dying Embrace
2002
3.35 | 50 ratings
Were You There live
2004
3.45 | 64 ratings
A Moment in Time
2006
4.50 | 143 ratings
Universal
2013

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

2.64 | 27 ratings
Serenades + Crestfallen
1995
3.21 | 37 ratings
Resonance: Best of Anathema
2001
2.67 | 29 ratings
Resonance 2
2002
4.44 | 25 ratings
Original Album Classics
2011
4.00 | 8 ratings
Resonance 1 & 2
2015
4.38 | 8 ratings
Fine Days 1999 - 2004
2015
3.67 | 3 ratings
Internal Landscapes 2008-2018
2018

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

1.24 | 14 ratings
An Iliad of Woes
1990
1.59 | 14 ratings
All Faith is Lost
1991
2.82 | 11 ratings
They Die 7''
1992
2.24 | 59 ratings
The Crestfallen
1992
2.17 | 16 ratings
We are the Bible 7''
1994
2.89 | 70 ratings
Pentecost III
1995
1.71 | 12 ratings
Alternative Future
1998
2.42 | 12 ratings
Make it Right
1999
2.65 | 18 ratings
Deep
1999
3.87 | 15 ratings
Pressure
2001
3.40 | 10 ratings
Unchained (Tales Of The Unexpected)
2008
4.49 | 34 ratings
Everything
2010
3.50 | 4 ratings
Dreaming Light
2011
2.67 | 3 ratings
Untouchable Part 1
2012
2.67 | 3 ratings
Untouchable Part 2
2013
2.33 | 3 ratings
The Lost Song Part 3
2014
3.00 | 2 ratings
Untouchable
2014

ANATHEMA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Eternity by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.61 | 342 ratings

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Eternity
Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by progtime1234567

4 stars Eternity by Anathema is where I would say the band would start to become the kind of band that they turned out to be on their later albums. The death/doom metal the band played on their first two albums is gone but the Gothic metal is still very present. Eternity is not as progressive or experimental as their later albums but it does still hold up as a great release. The song Angelica is a beautiful and melancholic song that serves as a great song to kick off the album as it really showcases what the entire album is about. The rest of the album is great, full of melancholic and romantic Gothic beauty that can only be described by listening to the music for yourself. Just because Anathema's earlier material isn't progressive or experimental like their later releases does not mean that they aren't good, as they are great romantic Gothic metal albums, with this one probably being their best early album.
 Judgement by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 1999
4.14 | 714 ratings

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Judgement
Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Hector Enrique

4 stars Judgment confirms the evolution of a more experimental and alternative Anathema, with a less depressive and obscure approach than the previous Alternative 4. Indeed, just as melancholic and forceful.

The dense atmospheres and the perfume of sadness that permeates the album is, in turn, what gives it insurmountable value, where the heartfelt and moving One Last Goodbye stands out, a tribute by the Cavanaghs to their deceased mother prior to the recording process from the album and one of the best songs from his discography.

Undeniably the influence of Pink Floyd again in the introduction of the heartbreaking Emotional Winter (hello "Shine on you ..."), the excellent Wings of God, and her guitar solo, and on the other hand, the deep and intense Anyone, Anywhere, with a certain air to the song Private Investigations by Dire Straits, from the best of the album.

Judgment is one of the capital works of the Liverpool band, a sample of the maturity and musical splendor they had reached and consolidates them as an important post-metal reference.

 Alternative 4 by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 1998
4.05 | 611 ratings

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Alternative 4
Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Hector Enrique

4 stars Anathema begins to move away from his previous proposal, twinned with death metal and nuances similar to the heaviest doom. In that way, the band enters a more atmospheric territory with a recognizable Floydian influence, with some nods to Steven Wilson's Porcupine Tree and Clive Nolan's Arena.

Brothers Vincent and Daniel Cavanagh, together with bassist Duncan Patterson, compose a solid material and achieve; without losing their identity, locate the space where they develop at best their full potential. They do that with a greater presence of pianos, synthesizers, and guitars more related to the style of David Gilmour.

With pain and depression as recurring themes, there are no throwaway songs on Alternative 4, from the introductory Shroud of False with its delicate piano to the acoustic and heartfelt Destiny. All the work maintains a high level, anyway, both Regret with its almost 8 minutes of very well basted highs and lows and the powerful Feel, stand out especially.

The bonus disc of the album remastered in 2003 is an interesting little tribute to Pink Floyd (except Bad Religion's song Better Off Dead), but if it is about remembering their idols, I choose 24 minutes of the album's Floydian Memories Shadow Gallery Room V.

 A Natural Disaster by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.91 | 555 ratings

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A Natural Disaster
Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by sgtpepper

4 stars I see a bit of improvement comparing to their previous album and that's mainly due to less vocals and more post-rock textures. A solid release with a couple of memorable songs that have well survived into 2010's live concerts. The record is a tad more optimistic though. And there are larger post-rock influences, which I like. "Harmonium" starts with a depressing note despite promising title. "Balance" is a mix between Radiohead and post-rock but not that memorable unfortunately and it could be worse if the guitar less prominent in the mix. "Closer" has a simple but good development; it also leans towards post-rock. Artificial vocals are acquired taste. "Pulled under..." is an aggressive song reminding their 90's past and has nothing progressive in it. "Natural disaster" is one of the best song, good textures and female vocal, followed by a great 10-minute last song. Overall. it is a lighter and more optimistic record than previous ones and a step closer to crossover prog.
 A Fine Day To Exit by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.83 | 490 ratings

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A Fine Day To Exit
Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars The Liverpool lads showed promising hints of open and progressive eyes on this release that is devoid of doom metal/rock influences keeping melancholy spirit instead of depressing one. Songs are well constructed, sometimes up beat and dynamic but mostly reflective and static. Vocals keep getting better every release and this album handles them well. "Looking outside well" shows higher pitched screaming vocals. As usual, instrumental focus is on guitars, less on drums and bass. There are no jaw-breaking solos or instrumentation so it may put some proggers off. Catchy alternative rock chorus is on "Looking outside well" bordering with post-grunge. "Leave no trace" is a haunting ballad that reminds me of Scandinavian melancholy. The title song is perhaps the most varied song with dynamic and quiet sections. The only real letdown is the 18-minute song that has quite a lot meaningless silent minutes.
 Hindsight by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.92 | 163 ratings

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Hindsight
Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

4 stars Temporary peace

As the name might suggest, "Hindsight" sees Anathema looking back at some of their earlier material. This is not though a simple compilation, but an album of re-interpretations of songs that originally appeared on albums such as "Alternative 4", ""A fine day to exit" and "A natural disaster".

Sometimes misleadingly referred to as an unplugged album, "Hindsight" offers pared back versions of songs that were generally already soft and melodious. The fine cello playing of classically trained musician Dave Wesling is added and the emphasis is certainly placed on acoustic guitars and piano. The soft side of Radiohead remains a decent reference point, especially on songs such as the beautifully melancholic "Leave no trace" and the delicate "One last goodbye" (from "Judgement").

Many of the songs do not sound that different to the originals, among the more notable variations being the absence of the voice of Anna Livingstone to be replaced by equally effective male vocal harmonic accompaniment. The oldest song on the album is "Angelica" from "Eternity", where drifting lead guitar and a heavier back-beat lead to the song having a less stripped but nonetheless highly appealing feel. The title track from "A natural disaster" is surprisingly faithful to the original, right down to the female lead vocal by Lee Douglas.

"Temporary peace" from "A fine day to exit" was originally intended to provide the title for this album until "Hindsight" became the preferred option. The version here thankfully loses its extended section of ambient noises, thus focusing on the melodic opening segment of the original track. There is one new song here, the closing "Unchained (tales of the unexpected)". The acoustic sounds remain firmly in charge, but this feels more like a song from the band's earliest days.

For me this is an album of great beauty, replete with relaxing but far from ambient sounds. I would have liked to have seen more of the early material, especially from the growling days, being revisited as the differences would then have been far more noticeable. As it stands, the versions of the songs here constitute worthy Alternatives, rather than improvements.

 Weather Systems by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.02 | 926 ratings

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Weather Systems
Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by DominicS

4 stars I can empathise with those in the prog rock community that struggle to connect with the music of Anathema as it is most often very slow, understated and very melancholic - different from the more obviously complex and loud music created by the classic prog bands. However, I had no problem when I listened to this beautifully arranged album and having listened to their other albums, I believe it is their best. It may lack in terms of being diverse as most of the songs communicate a similar ambience, which may be why some people are put off. Nevertheless, this band are experts in creating the most harmonically rich chord progressions which I am a massive fan of and that's why I can never get bored when listening to this album despite the consistent ambience throughout.

The best example of such rich harmony is in the song 'The Lost Child'; the piano chords are phenomenal, fitting the darkness of the song perfectly. These rich chords act as the backbone of the song, supporting it throughout with the only thing changing being the intensity, which grows from nothing to a powerful flood of emotion. These chords, in my opinion, are so interesting to listen to that they could be repeated endlessly, and I would still never get bored ? its relentlessness makes it all the more motivating to listen to. Anathema are skilled at creating stimulating music through relentlessly exhausting single musical ideas rather than just throwing in excessive separate musical ideas that don't push the songs any further. 'Untouchable, Part 1' is an example of this as it is relentless in many ways but at the same time it is so moving. The rapid movement on the acoustic guitar is unrelenting, it drives the song forward throughout and successfully allows the climactic build to be expectantly thrilling. The chordal movement never drastically changes, but that doesn't really matter because what makes this song (and the whole album) so effective is the design of the most lyrical melodies that act as motifs not just in this song but in 'Untouchable, Part 2'. I think the second part of this song is so intelligently thought out; it uses very similar chords and musical ideas used in the first part but at the same time it feels very different, almost like an acoustic version of the first part. Anathema just know how to exhaust their musical ideas, whether that be by repeating motifs in different textural scenarios or by swapping instrumentation for the same chord progressions ? this album is so clever when you think about it carefully, the band may repeat a lot of ideas, but it is done with precision and skill. My favourite song from the album is 'Internal Landscapes'; it is an unrushed piece of music, beginning sparsely with dialogue accompanied by these elegant and dreamy keyboard sounds. Again, this song is constructed similar to the other songs on the album, building to a climax before returning to the dream like atmosphere communicated at the beginning ? the song takes you on such an emotionally charged journey.

A couple of songs on the album make an attempt to break up the similarity of the album. 'The Storm Before the Calm' is slightly more varied in terms of musical ideas and the contrast in dynamics is much greater and more sudden rather than the gradual build-ups heard in most of the other songs. At 5:35, the texture becomes completely sparse as only the guitar can be heard before other instruments are then layered in; this takes place in the middle of the song rather than just happening at the beginning like in other songs from the album. Songs like these are nice to hear as it acts as a welcome break from the identical structures of the other songs on the album. Anathema's true talent on this album is their ability to create the most memorable musical ideas that can be repeated as motifs in a variety of ways ? and somehow it never becomes boring. However, this album lacks a greater variety of sounds, as most of the songs seem to follow an ambient, melancholic approach ? all of the songs are in a minor key for example. A couple of upbeat songs would add a greater variation to the sound of the album. This album could have also done with a greater exploration of dynamics; good attempts are made in 'The Storm Before the Calm' but dynamics could easily be explored further in other songs that seem to follow the same structure. Despite these small criticisms, this album showcases the bands power of being able to create the saddest of sounds using the most gorgeous vocal and chordal harmonies and repeating lyrical motifs that never seem to grow dull no matter how often they are repeated ? I truly love this emotional rollercoaster of an album.

 Weather Systems by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.02 | 926 ratings

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Weather Systems
Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Norbert

1 stars Weather Systems is the ninth studio album by the British rock band Anathema. The artwork of the album is somewhat nice, plus the production and the arrangements are professional, but this I have mentioned almost all positive features of this 55 minutes long album with nine tracks. Anathema is listed on ProgArchives.com as Experimental/ Post Metal and not less than 4 Anathema albums sit in the Top 30 of this particular ProgArchives subgenre. So let's see how progressive and experimental is this album. The songs of this album usually begin quietly with vocals along with piano or acoustic guitar. Then drums start, but very basic stuff, no tricky time signatures at all. Then another instruments and an extra vocalist join, while the volume goes up gradually until the song reaches its loud climax, then starts to be more quiet again, and then finish. The main simple theme and cheap melody remains the same, the band 'experiments" only with the volume , and barely with anything else. Sorry, but in my opinion this is not progessive and experimental music at all. We can find here and there Ambient, Post Rock, Alternative Rock, Indie Pop, Electronic.... but not Progressive Rock. Absolutlely not forward-thinking or challennging music. "Challenging" is only to suffer through the whiny vocals of one of Vincent Cavanagh. About the metal part of the Experimental/ Post Metal subgenre. Well, if this album is metal then Slippery When Wet by Bon Jovi is grindcore. This is not always even really rock, mostly, moody but showy melodic pop music, sometimes even quiet syrupy. So I do not think that this album is progessive, and I do not like it. Not even a little bit. Hence my rating.
 Judgement by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 1999
4.14 | 714 ratings

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Judgement
Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Norbert

2 stars Judgement is the fifth album by the British rock band Anathem. The frontcover of the album is simple but effective. There are 13 tracks in about 56 minutes of the regular edition. The album is performed by the male vocals, helped by female vocals in Parisiienne Monnlight and Don't look too far and the usual rock instruments, shared by members of the 4 piece band. The style of the music is mainly some grungy alternative rock with a strong gothic flavour. They do sometimes use some odd time signatures, but that's really the only progressive rock to be found here. It is not really metal either, but unlike the dreadful Weather Systems this album is at least a bona fide rock record. One may be easily moved by the honest sadness found in the lyrics, The straightforward songwriting ethic of grunge/alternative rock is the leading force of the songs, which are too similar-sounding and one dimensional, mostly they have the easily assimilated verse/chorus sections. Judgement is not a terrible effort at all as far as gothic flavoured alternative rock goes, and I understand how can other people like it far more, than I do. For me it is too eventless and homogenous to rate it with more than 2 stars on ProgArchives.
 We're Here Because We're Here by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 2010
4.05 | 906 ratings

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

Review by sgtpepper

5 stars Together with "Weather Systems", this is the Anathema's peak. Incredible musicianship and experience accumulated through the years and a long break between the albums caused the band to spur extreme motivation to create a high quality music. The vocals have dramatically improved - melodic singing with harmonies and the inclusion of pleasant female vocals. The music sounds playful, mainly optimistic, adventurous enough and times has heavy riffs that harken back to the previous albums. If melancholy is introduced, then there are no traces of desperation in the music (I don't usually follow the lyrics). New influences have to play: alternative rock a la Incubus (hear track Get Off, Get Out that sounds so American) and post rock that was only present on the last track on the 2004's Natural Disaster. "Universal" is a slow-paced track with strings, gradually becoming a dark post-rock flavour. "Hindsight" together with "Violence" from "A natural disaster" are my favourite Anathema instrumental tracks and showcase perfect balance of guitar-driven and keyboard-led notes. While the latter is more complex, "Hindsight" sparks a feeling of harmony each time I listen to it. The guitar melody is simple yet amazing and effective.

If you want to start with Anathema and have an accessible but still progressive work, start with this one.

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