Experimental/Post Metal • United Kingdom

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Anathema biography
Formed in the summer of 1990 in Liverpool (also home to THE BEATLES), by Daniel Cavanagh (guitarist). 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 Natu...
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Distant SatellitesDistant Satellites
Kscope 2014
Audio CD$7.89
$10.15 (used)
Weather SystemsWeather Systems
The End Records 2012
Audio CD$7.47
$7.39 (used)
Kscope 2013
Audio CD$12.19
$20.34 (used)
Sony Bmg Europe 2008
Audio CD$4.41
$4.99 (used)
Alternative 4Alternative 4
Remastered · Extra tracks
Peaceville UK 2004
Audio CD$4.78
$3.89 (used)
Universal [Blu-ray]Universal [Blu-ray]
Multiple Formats · Blu-ray
Kscope 2013
$10.27 (used)
Falling DeeperFalling Deeper
Audio CD$4.60
$5.50 (used)
Fine Day to ExitFine Day to Exit
Sony UK 2006
Audio CD$4.19
$9.40 (used)
Extra tracks
Peaceville UK 2003
Audio CD$4.56
$3.65 (used)
Extra tracks
Peaceville UK 2003
Audio CD$7.13
$5.00 (used)
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ANATHEMA shows & tickets

  • Anathema + Mother's Cake at Muziekcentrum TRIX, Antwerpen on 1 Oct 2014
  • Anathema at Substage, Karlsruhe on 2 Oct 2014
  • Anathema at Palác Akropolis, Praha on 3 Oct 2014
  • Anathema at Z7 Konzertfabrik Pratteln, Pratteln on 5 Oct 2014
  • Anathema + Mother's Cake at Alcatraz, Milano on 6 Oct 2014
  • ANATHEMA "Satellites over Europe 2014" on 8 Oct 2014
  • Anathema: Satellites over Europe 2014 on 9 Oct 2014
  • Satellites Over Europe on 10 Oct 2014
  • Satellites Over Europe on 11 Oct 2014
  • Anathema at Metronum, Toulouse on 13 Oct 2014
  • Anathema at Ninkasi, Lyon on 14 Oct 2014
  • Anathema + Chapelier Fou at La Laiterie, Strasbourg on 15 Oct 2014
  • Anathema + Mother's Cake at Bataclan, Paris on 16 Oct 2014
  • Anathema + Mother's Cake at 013, Tilburg on 17 Oct 2014
  • Satellites Over Europe Tour - Anathema on 18 Oct 2014
  • Anathema at Posthalle, Würzburg on 19 Oct 2014
  • Anathema + Mother's Cake at Szene, Wien on 21 Oct 2014
  • Satellites over Europe on 22 Oct 2014
  • Anathema + Mother's Cake at A38, Budapest on 23 Oct 2014
  • Satellites Over Europe Tour 2014 on 25 Oct 2014
  • Satellites Over Europe Tour 2014 on 26 Oct 2014
  • Anathema at Hala Orbita, Wroclaw on 27 Oct 2014
  • Satellites over Europe Tour 2014 on 29 Oct 2014
  • "Satellites Over Europe"-Tour on 30 Oct 2014
  • Anathema + Mother's Cake at Sticky Fingers, Göteborg on 1 Nov 2014
  • Anathema at Garage, Bergen on 3 Nov 2014
  • Anathema at Rockefeller, Oslo on 4 Nov 2014
  • Anathema on 5 Nov 2014
  • Anathema at The Circus, Helsinki on 7 Nov 2014
  • Anathema at Pakkahuone, Tampere on 8 Nov 2014

ANATHEMA discography

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

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

2.30 | 158 ratings
3.11 | 186 ratings
The Silent Enigma
3.64 | 265 ratings
4.08 | 471 ratings
Alternative 4
4.18 | 525 ratings
3.83 | 377 ratings
A Fine Day to Exit
3.85 | 430 ratings
A Natural Disaster
4.03 | 717 ratings
We're Here Because We're Here
3.82 | 330 ratings
Falling Deeper
3.96 | 702 ratings
Weather Systems
3.75 | 212 ratings
Distant Satellites

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

3.89 | 56 ratings

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

3.39 | 20 ratings
A Vision Of A Dying Embrace
3.24 | 39 ratings
Were You There live
3.38 | 50 ratings
A Moment in Time
4.37 | 97 ratings

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

2.61 | 22 ratings
Serenades + Crestfallen
3.18 | 29 ratings
Resonance: Best of Anathema
2.53 | 21 ratings
Resonance 2
3.94 | 130 ratings
3.64 | 22 ratings
Original Album Classics

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

1.31 | 7 ratings
An Iliad of Woes
2.07 | 9 ratings
All Faith is Lost
3.00 | 7 ratings
They Die 7''
2.21 | 44 ratings
The Crestfallen
2.89 | 9 ratings
We are the Bible 7''
2.87 | 55 ratings
Pentecost III
1.63 | 8 ratings
Alternative Future
2.27 | 7 ratings
Make it Right
2.57 | 13 ratings
4.09 | 11 ratings
3.43 | 7 ratings
Unchained (Tales Of The Unexpected)
4.54 | 29 ratings


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Judgement by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 1999
4.18 | 525 ratings

Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Prog Reviewer

4 stars ANATHEMA (which is Greek meaning something dedicated to evil) is a band that I have heard a few tracks from over the years and they have always rubbed me the wrong way therefore I have avoided this band like a flea-bitten varmint carrying the plague. The truth is this band has had so many different sounds over their career and judging them from any particular phase could leave out one phase that might actually rub you the right way. In this case their 5th studio album JUDGEMENT does just that and rubs that spot that feels oh so good. With a long list of credentials including a sound in alternative rock, acoustic rock, art rock and more, this album finds the band steering their ship out of doom metal waters into a progressive rock sea. In fact if you ask me this band is heavily influenced by the Porcupine Tree albums of the same era with a bit of alternative metal sounds a la Alice In Chains in the mix. Fortunately these influences are strong but not putting them into any particular clone department.

What I am finding pleasing about this album is the strong melodic melancholy with aspiring acoustic arpeggios mixed with grungy chords and passionate pleas to placate the pain. The story is the two Cavanaugh brothers recently lost their mother so the mood of the album fits. This album also finds the band losing bassist Duncan Patterson who was a major contributor in the songwriting department leaving Danny Cavanagh to take the major role as such. This was an album I picked up with much trepidation but since it was one of their highest rated and praised I thought I should at least give it a spin. I was fearing I would find it in the same camp as Opeth, which is a much beloved and highly praised band that I seem to lack the digestive enzymes to comprehend, but to my surprise despite the heavy influences being just a little too obvious, I find myself liking this album a lot. It has enough of its own personality to win me over. Now I can tiptoe through their discography a little bit more hoping to hit on another winner such as this.


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 Distant Satellites by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.75 | 212 ratings

Distant Satellites
Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Distant Satellites" is the 12th full-length studio album by atmospheric rock act Anathema. The album was released through Kscope in June 2014.

"Distant Satellites" treads an alternative/semi-progressive atmospheric rock path that is similar in sound and style to it´s predecessor "Weather Systems (2012)". The music is polished, dreamy, and slow building. Usually starting out mellow and then slowly building towards louder and more intense climaxes. The by now trademark melancholy of the band´s music is as prevailent here as it´s always been. This is not depressive music though and although it´s not exactly happy music either, there is an uplifting spirit about the whole affair, that makes "Distant Satellites" a predominantly light melancholic album rather than a dark depressive one.

The male vocals by Vincent Cavanagh and the female vocals by Lee Douglas are the center of attention on the album and they share the spotlight equally. Atmospheric keyboards and guitars, and a well playing rhythm section complete the band´s sound. Anathema have also included some electronic drumming on the album, which to my ears is a very successful move.

The first part of the album features organic drums, but when the 7th track "You´re Not Alone" kicks in, the music style changes a bit as a result of the electronic drums. It becomes more ambient and I´m reminded of artists like Massive Attack and Morcheeba. The short instrumental "Firelight" continues the ambient sound and the title track which follows is also quite ambient and features electronic drumming. The latter reminds me a lot of Coldplay and could in an edited version (this version is 8:17 minutes long) easily get radio airplay. It´s the perfect example of how far Anathema have come since their early doom/death metal days. It´s not unusual for Anathema to tweek their sound during an album. They did the same on "Weather Systems (2012)". They do it skillfully though which means that their core style and atmosphere are intact throughout.

"Distant Satellites" is packed in an organic and pleasant sounding production which fits the music perfectly, and all in all it´s another high quality release by Anathema. If I have to voice a minor complaint it would be about the lyrics, which are at times a bit too simple, naive, and starry eyed, and not exactly written with the greatest finesse. I´ll even go as far as to call them teenage-angsty, which is a bit odd to me, as I know these guys (and girl) are in their 30s/40s. Oh well...they are fortunately sung by strong voices and wrapped in beautiful melodies, so it is a minor complaint and a 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is still deserved.


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 Alternative 4 by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 1998
4.08 | 471 ratings

Alternative 4
Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by FragileKings

3 stars I've had this album for two years now and I have been hesitating to review it because I wasn't altogether thrilled about it after the first few listens. The album is about ill-placed trust and loyalty, betrayal, anger, and finally getting one's strength back. The theme didn't particularly appeal to me but more so I felt that the concept wasn't delivered in a truly convincing way but instead sounded rather juvenile.

The music is often pretty slow and when it picks up and tries to exhibit more tension and power, I feel it never quite reaches a satisfactory level. Vincent Cavanagh does his best to sound crestfallen, betrayed, hurt, and angered but somehow something's missing. There are a lot of references in vocal style to Pink Floyd's "The Final Cut", most noticeable when in several places Cavanagh repeats his words like an echo as we can hear on "The Wall" and "The Final Cut". "I've lost all control, control, control, control." He also gets a few good screams in their too as Waters did on the Floyd albums. It's no surprise then that the reissue comes with four bonus tracks, three of which are Pink Floyd covers from the two albums I mentioned. And actually, Cavanagh does a mighty fine job of singing like Roger Waters did on the originals.

So, I wasn't wowed and put off reviewing this album until the time was right for me and suddenly it struck me that I was ready. After a good listen I found my views had softened a little. Actually there's some good music on this album and a few highlights. I like the violin, especially at the beginning of "Fragile Dreams" as I first thought it sounded like an er-hu (a two-string Chinese violin). "Regret" has some nice "ah-ah" harmony vocals in a minor key that sound almost like they could push for pseudo-Gregorian chant with a bit more effort. The last minute of "Feel" is where things finally turn around for our protagonist and the music at last breaks free of its depressing mood, becoming powerful and charged. We also get some piano, organ, and acoustic guitar here and there.

None of the music is particularly complex, going more for mood and atmosphere. The lyrics sound a little trite at times but are sincere if not a bit tedious in their bitterness. Since purchasing this album, I have on occasion added a song or two on mixed playlists and have thus become more familiar with certain tracks and even having a couple of favourites. Now I don't think it's quite so bad an album after all, though I wouldn't call it essential unless you're a fan of the band. Good enough.


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 Distant Satellites by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.75 | 212 ratings

Distant Satellites
Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Deathangel

4 stars I'd heard very mixed reviews about this album so was pleasantly surprised when I finally got to know it. It always takes me a few listenings before I get into any new Anathema piece, but this is beginning to get under my skin nicely.

Not a drastically different direction, and possibly a bit 'nice' now and then, but overall I'm liking Distant Satellites quite a bit. Very 'post-rock', very atmospheric and actually quite mature in the songwriting department, and with some really great harmony vocals going on. What I really like is the journey this album takes us on - it starts off good and just gets better as it goes along, with 'Firelight' and 'Distant Satellites' being standout tracks for me.

Not quite up to the standards of 'We're Here Because We're Here', but certainly a good 4 star album.


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 Distant Satellites by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.75 | 212 ratings

Distant Satellites
Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by arcane-beautiful

5 stars Anathema to me can do no wrong. After their last album being an epic masterpiece, and their previous effort being a brilliant album in its own right, I was so incredibly stoked for this album.

The band have shown an almost found love for what they do after coming back from a hiatus in 2009, and their new reinvigorated sound means that the band have been able to release albums consistently every 2 years.

Musically the album takes a darker move than compared to their last two albums and touches upon some sounds from "A Natural Disaster." While "Weather Systems" was very much a bright and joyous album, this one touches upon more melancholic feelings. There are some very beautiful and joyous moments throughout, but this is definitely one of the bands darkest albums in the past few years.

The album also seems to have two very noticeable sounds. While the first half is very much a prog rock album, the other half dwells on more experimental and electronic sounds. Now it does make the album a little less cohesive, but it does make the album that much more interesting.

The opening track "The Lost Song Part 1" is an epic opener. Opening with some beautiful strings the song goes into an offbeat drum pattern with some brilliant instrumental decorations. A brilliant and passionate vocal performance from Vincent and Lee also adds a lot of depth to the song.

One of the biggest growers on the album would have to be "The Lost Song Part 2." While "Ariel" was tugging at my heart strings these past few days, this one has probably over shadowed it. In fact, this is definitely up there with my favorite Anathema songs and would probably be one of the most beautiful songs ever written. A beautiful arrangement and some heart felt vocals from Lee, the track can almost bring a grown man to tears.

My personal favorite track on the album would have to be "Ariel." An almost sister song to "The Lightning Song", it is a more melancholic departure for the band. Incredibly beautiful with some brilliant clashes and crescendos.

One of the darkest tracks on the album would have to be "Anathema." Building up and climaxing into and epic chorus and a pretty amazing ending guitar solo, the song is a very emotional track with some brilliant clashes and crescendos throughout.

"You're Not Alone" is a very interesting track. With some electronic beats and over layered vocals, the song bursts into a heavy and clashing ending. Probably one of the heaviest songs on the album.

The title track is an interesting take for the band. Focusing more on the electronic sound of the band, its a very soft song with some beautiful melodies. I do feel the song does drag on a tiny bit too long, but it is pretty good nontheless.

The albums ending "Take Shelter" is a very soft and beautiful way to end the album. With some light falsetto vocals from Vincent and trip hop inspired beats, the song ends very beautifully...as an Anathema album should do.

In conclusion, I don't prefer this to their last album "Weather Systems." But in all honesty, "Weather Systems" is probably one of my favorite albums ever recorded. This album is a brilliant follow up and a masterpiece of songwriting. Experimental and a step in the right direction, the band have again proved that they are probably the most interesting musical act going. This album takes a good bit of time to digest...but when it does, the after taste is sweeter than honey.


Genres: Progressive Rock, Experimental Rock, Electronic, Symphonic Rock, Art Rock, Post Rock, Pop Rock, Hard Rock, Trip Hop

Country of origin: England

Year of release: 2014


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 Distant Satellites by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.75 | 212 ratings

Distant Satellites
Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by blueavenger

3 stars Prog, post-rock, metal, borderline mainstream rock?

10 albums in, and it's hard to really know what to call this style of music, other than Anathema-style.

Yes, this is Prog Archives, so technically this is for progressive acts. Whilst this Liverpudlian 6-piece can't be said to produce much that could be considered prog rock, they could always lay claim to being progressive in their style of music, in much the same way Radiohead have moved through the gears from Grunge, Alternative, Prog, Avent Garde and now' Radiohead. With Distant Satellites though, I'm no longer sure that even that is now true of Anathema as it appears they have found their niche and their signature and are sticking with it resolutely, although that's not necessarily a bad thing. Satellites has some elements that are virtually interchangeable with Weather Systems , most notably the high-tempo, uplifting opening track, segueing into a soulful, pop-ballad second part. Similarly, the album closes with another variant of the chilled / spatial epic and you can also rest assured that each song is going to be loud and powerful at some point. Where their latest offering differs though is some of the texture and sound, with a more dolly mixtures style of song choice and order. Where Weather Systems benefited from a very consistent mood, theme and quality in the opening two-thirds (before a sharp nose-dive for the last three tracks), Satellites mixes things up a little bit, a little more in the style of A Natural Disaster, with some strong electronic flourishes and a high emphasis on atmosphere.

The afore mentioned 2-part Lost Song opens the album and serves as a reliably recognisable introduction, in much the same way Untouchable did. The time signature (5/4, is it?) is at least something novel and makes for an interesting edge to the song which is otherwise very similar to Untouchable in both its steady build to the satisfying midway arrival of surging guitars and also the way it can't quite keep the momentum going and loses its way a little toward the end. Lyrically it is simple and raw and anthemic, albeit in a punctuated way.

The way in which Part 1 gives way to Part 2 is also unerringly similar to Weather systems. A slow-paced, piano drive pop ballad serves to contrast to the rocking opener, but this one belongs solely to Lee Douglas vocally, unlike the duet from Weather Systems. Lyrically, this is very familiar territory, but the effectiveness of the song is raised significantly by Lee's finest vocal performance to date and some very polished production.

Dusk (Dark is Descending) is where Distant Satellites' problems start to become apparent. Dusk is a fine song in many ways with a reasonable acoustic riff, strong vocals and lot of passion, but it's also dripping in anonymity. A strong album needs consistency and a steady flow of good songs. By track 3, the stall is normally set: with Weather Systems we had the excellent, operatic storm surge of The Gathering of the Clouds that blended perfectly with the somber, emotional coda of track 2 and segued masterfully into Lightning Song. We're Here didn't have the same thematic conceptual link, but at least had some very fine contrast to the powerful Summernight Horizon with Dreaming Light's peaceful ode to love and life. Dusk, on the other hand, feels like pure filler and smacks of the same by- the-numbers construction methodology last heard on The Beginning and the End, which helped to bring the end of Weather Systems down with a dull thud. There's nothing remotely wrong with Dusk per se. It's just uninspired, derivative and without focus. It feels like it's been phoned in and it's a loss of momentum that occurs too early in the album.

Ariel, track 4, brings us back to Weather Systems territory and provides another radio- friendly anthemic bookend to the louder, more guitar-driven rock that had preceded it. The lyrics are simple again and the duet vocals work reasonably well, with Vincent Cavanagh's soaring voice accompanying a heavy mid-section and some well-considered chord progressions that were withheld from the start. Daniel Cavanagh's almost whispered vocal line at the end is another nice touch.

Breaking tradition with the songs that only have 2 parts (and I include The Storm Before the Calm in that too), the 5th track on the album is probably Distant Satellites' strongest moment. The Lost Song, Part 3, is an alternative take on the long-forgotten riff that served as the DNA to the opening two tracks on the album. It's a re-tread of part 1, to be sure (which presumably came first), but it's the stronger of the two, with alternating vocalists and more substantial lyrics and a satisfying climax that doesn't lose momentum or rely on repetition.

Anathema, the eponymous track, seems to be well revered amongst fans and it does offer a very apt tip-of-the-hat to their more classic Judgement-era Metal. The lyrics are decent and the vocals soaring (when are they not), but ' neat repeating piano hook aside ' it perhaps doesn't go where it could have gone and just culminates in an archetypal gothic metal guitar solo at the end, which probably goes on a few bars too long. It's good, but it's not the anthemic masterpiece that some might have you believe.

Track 7 marks the entry to Electronic territory and the beginning of a shaky path for the band, veering from sublime, to mundane, to ridiculous over the course of the next 4 tracks. You're Not Alone serves as Danny's sole lead vocal, although it's probably as much a bona fide vocal as Nick Mason's is on Pink Floyd's One of These Days. I've seen a review mention The Gathering of the Clouds as a reference point for this song, but they are poles apart: one is a swirling maelstrom of overlapping vocals and operatic orchestral, complimenting perfectly the songs it follows and precedes; the other, sadly, is a stark, loud and brash ode to Hail To The Thief-era Radiohead which runs maybe 60 seconds too long (and it's barely 3 minutes long as it is) and which sports a cool drum-and-bass loop, but then murders a great Steven Wilson-sculpted guitar thrash but replaying it at least twice as often as it should.

Next is probably the best 6 minutes on the album. Firelight is a Wine Glasses (Pink Floyd outtake) style serving of pure electronic ambience, cycling through some beautiful chords and ending on a lovely note that segues seamlessly into the title track of the album and the place where many Anathema fans have been polarised. Distant Satellites, the song, has been long in the gestation and had only recently found the right incarnation in the form of what could easily be described as club trance. How the song has finally been captured fits the band right now and where one of the directions they want to take their music. I get that and I think for more than half of its running time it works a treat. The electronic drum loop is marvellous and accompanies Firelight's warm organ sound perfectly before Vincent's dreamy pop-vocals come in. If you heard this on the radio, you might struggle to think that this was from a band that exists in the Prog world (however they may or may not respond to such labelling) or whether this was from something altogether more radio-friendly and main stream. My response to this is that there's nothing wrong with having a pop song thrown into the mix (there's at least one on every Steven Wilson band record) and the vocal hooks on this one are a knock-out, even if it does, for some reason, reminds me of Under Your Thumb by Godley and Cream.

But sadly, for me, and in a fashion too common on this LP, it loses its momentum just over half way through. After the baseline and the analogue beats have kicked in, we are promised another bi-polar Anathema experience as vocal chanting almost summons the track to ascend and reach a crescendo, only for it to plummet back to the median. When I first heard the song, I was sensing an extended instrumental sequence and then a surging final act, much like Genesis' sublime Tonight, Tonight, Tonight and, in truth, much in keeping with Anathema's tried and tested formula from recent records. But instead, what we're left with is a muted club 'doof-doof' beat, coupled with a harmless synth line that, whilst fine, isn't what it could have been and doesn't seem to suit the song. That the chorus returns and repeats itself far too often, somewhat spoils the effect of its first appearance, particularly as it doesn't work as well over the higher-tempo beats than it did over the synths and loop. The last thirty seconds of electro-dance outro and ok, but the damage is done and each time I hear this, I am left with the ironic notion that ' on this album at least - this was the one song that desperately needed an Anathema-branded surging climax, whereas there are plenty of others that need exactly that amputated from their production. Where songs like Thin Air, A Simple Mistake and Universal changed tact, pace or style half way through to resounding effect, Distant Satellites tries to do the same, but falls short.

After the potential high of Distant Satellites, Take Shelter becomes just a neat little footnote and a pleasant enough climax to the album: nothing more. It's well produced, although the drum loop doesn't really work, and has a fitting sense of closure to it, but it's more of an extended coda to another song altogether, rather than a song in its own right.

And there we have it. I've been on and off writing this review for a few weeks now and wanted to wait until had stopped playing the record endlessly to truly put it into context. Whilst I remain a very ardent (and recent) Anathema fan that will look forward to their next album (and especially to their first appearance in Australia in August 2014), I am left a little disappointed by the LP as a whole. It borrows much from both We're Here Because We're Here and Weather Systems, and every time it does, I find both predecessors superior. It's only where Distant Satellites departs from the tried and tested that it succeeds, but this is more sound and style then song structure and those experiments don't always work.

Whilst Anathema's destiny is interesting and promises much, there are aspects of their music that they need to try and evolve (particularly the monotone lyrics and highly repetitive themes of dreaming, new life and finding a soul mate), but also others where they need to look back to their previous works for inspiration. Yes this is probably a transitional album, and that's okay (if I can forgive Radiohead the truly uninspiring King of Limbs, then I can forgive anyone), but I've always found myself saying that their next album needed to be the masterpiece and this one wasn't, meaning the next one needs to be. I also think that, much as they want to avoid the 'Progressive' label, they would benefit from embracing some of the staples of the genre. When they've come close to this (the sublime Violence, the Floydian epic and the bombastic Calm Before the Storm), they've generally always pulled it off.

As much as the band should embrace new directions and fresh styles that inspire them, they also need to remember that great albums are born of great songs and an artistic direction and theme that captures a listener. It's an album that captures all of these elements that I would wish for next.


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 Universal by ANATHEMA album cover DVD/Video, 2013
4.37 | 97 ratings

Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Tristan Zaba

4 stars Amazing show! Very unique in a lot of rather unusual ways.

The most obvious one is that it features an orchestra. The orchestra does add a lot, but it's used very sparingly. In fact, almost to the point of me being tempted to say that they're squandering the opportunity. However, after listening carefully and thinking about the music, it's not really the case. They use the orchestra as texturing in order to build up the almost mammoth soundscapes that form an integral part of their sound. Not how I would use an orchestra, but it works perfectly for them.

While it might just pertain to Anathema's discography in general, there also aren't a whole ton of individual songs that represent what I would normally consider highs and lows of the show. Instead, it is all very structureless and free-flowing. There are incredibly expressive dynamics and giant contrasts in this music, but they're usually very gradual transitions taking place over the course of several minutes. Generally they also run overtop of hypnotic repeated guitar themes that range from simple to quite amazingly intricate. In a sense, these guys are the kings of the rock ostinato.

As for the band's playing, it's truly second to none. To start with, they're amazingly emotional players. The delivery absolutely brings the music to life. I generally wouldn't say this sort of thing requires a whole ton of virtuosity, but in this case I am going to disagree with myself. Anybody that can manage to make a single repeating theme interesting to a crowd of prog fans for five minutes deserves a f#$king medal. The dynamics are beautiful, they are obviously ridiculously well rehearsed, the onstage energy is amazing, everyone's having fun, and everything is just generally great. Also, while the band deserves credit for creating these massive walls of sound, the singers also deserve to be noted for their amazing ability to cut through and be heard. Their voices are both great and are perfect for what they do.

In essence, an amazing live gig from an unexpectedly effective band. Definitely an excellent addition to the collection of any open-minded listener.


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 Distant Satellites by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.75 | 212 ratings

Distant Satellites
Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Exquisite, refined rock

I'm not an Anathema fan and have owned only a few of their albums over the years. I've had one or two earlier albums and also a more recent release, Universal. The latter was very well done but like the earlier ones, never quite grabbed me by the throat. I wasn't expecting much with this one either but man did they execute here. They not only grabbed me by the throat, they threw me to the ground and pummeled me with clubs. Kidding, yes. I've seen some describe the band's sound as "heavy chill" which is a reasonable phrase, but I've always been just a bit let down by the similarity of the ride, track to track. That has changed with this one because the material is so instantly melodic and pleasurable, the sound so sweeping and cinematic, dramatic, the sonic equivalent of soft focus photography. The tracks play out in epic fashion, often including lovely, sentimental keyboard parts that soon build into pounding heaviness sometimes augmented by electronic atmospheric coloring. I love the heavy emphasis on piano and strings at play, very lush and dreamy to contrast the heavy parts.

What pushes it to another level completely is the quality of the harmonies between Cavanaugh and Lee Douglas, simply captivating and emotionally resonating for this listener. The arrangements and the songs themselves are just so much more interesting to me than anything I've heard them do before. It's also consistent as hell and emotionally moving throughout. Some folks seem disappointed with the album and I've seen some reviewers give it one star. Anathema may be in a tough spot similar to Porcupine Tree now. Many fans don't want them to change from a sound they love, others don't feel they can top previous achievements, so in essence expectations shape one's opinion. "Distant Satellites" may be Anathema's "The Incident" one reviewers notes and I think that's a good analogy. There is going to be some gnashing of teeth, but I personally find both albums to be stunning. I do believe this moody yet uplifting album will be in my top picks of the year, very satisfying.


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 Distant Satellites by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.75 | 212 ratings

Distant Satellites
Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Gallifrey

4 stars In Transition

Something occurred to me a few months ago about Anathema, whilst I was watching last year's Universal concert film, a stunning live show recorded in an amphitheatre in Bulgaria. I was supposed to be blown away, and to a certain extent I was, but for some odd reason, hearing 20 songs by this band played back to back made me really notice how formulaic they are. While most bands stick to the age-old verse-chorus formula, Anathema tend to just pick a relatively simple motif (preferably in 5/4) and build on it a tiny bit at each repeat, with a new melody or a new instrument, until after a few minutes it's just on fire with brilliant colours. And then it will cut, the band will drop down to near-silence, and they'll start again with a different melody (but keeping some link to the first one) and make the second crescendo even bigger and more beautiful than the first. Comparisons to Godspeed You! Black Emperor are actually rather apt, even though Anathema seem far away from them in genre. Anathema have essentially invented themselves a song format to beat until death. And it's incredible, and I love it, but it happens in nearly every song and I could almost see this band running out of steam soon.

Firstly - I must begin with saying that over the last two years Anathema's Weather Systems has become my second favourite album of all time, and the band also my number 2. I remember saying that I had low expectations for the follow-up to that album, since topping something perfect is often very difficult, but I also said than anything less than an 8 would be somewhat disappointing. So, I guess by definition, this album is a disappointment, because that score was indeed not met, but there are a couple of things I didn't expect from this band that have sort of kind of made up for that.

Distant Satellites is a transitional album. I've always hated the term "transitional album", because it always seems to be excusing a band of a weaker album, but this is certainly what it is. The way I see it, there are two types of transitional albums:

1. Getting sick of the old style but not really wanting to change out of fear of fan hatred and resulting in a generally weaker album

See: The Incident, and I guess Anathema's own A Fine Day to Exit

2. Knowing what style to pursue next, but not wanting to jump right into it, so producing an album with a couple of glimpses of the new sound that isn't quite as cohesive

See: Autotheism, The Hunter, and even Opeth's Watershed if Heritage wasn't such a big change

In a sense, Distant Satellites is both of these at the same time, divided conveniently down the middle with the band's own self-titled track (moronic idea if you ask me). The first half of the album sees Anathema pulling out some pretty by-numbers tracks reminiscent of the last couple of albums, but none of the songs really stand out above the stuff on those records, and it ends up being just "pretty good", in the same way that an album like The Incident was. The second half, however, sees some brand new stuff coming in, with the band diving headfirst into electronics, with particular influence from Drum and Bass and Vocal Trance fields. It's definitely a new sound for them, and it brings some great new possibilities for the future of their music, but here it does feel a bit like an afterthought, and coming in only in the second half of the record doesn't really help the cohesion of the album.

I'll talk a bit about the first half though, because even though it's weaker than the previous albums it's still pretty good. Opening with the first two parts of "The Lost Song", it's clear that Anathema are trying to cash in on the winning formula of "Untouchable" from Weather Systems. And even though they are repeating themselves, I don't mind, since I absolutely fell in love with that idea. Like Untouchable, both these first songs share a melody that soars over the crescendo, and also like Untouchable, the first part is upbeat and quick, energetic and intense, whereas the second is melancholic and moody, focusing on piano over guitar, and once again having Lee Douglas sing lead. The first part has an absolutely awesome drum beat that runs through the whole song, a never-changing 5/4 groove that I have honestly never heard before (and I've heard a lot of 5/4 grooves). It's ever-so-slightly off-kilter, yet the skipped beat adds a great pace to the song, picking it up and making it quite lively. But there's a downside to this beat, and that is the awkwardness of putting vocal parts over the top. Both during Part 1 and Part 3 (which reprises the same beat), Lee and Vincent are struggling to make their vocal parts mesh with the instrumentation, regularly settling to just holding one note for a whole bar. As much as I like the chord progression and rhythm, vocally Part 1 doesn't really hit home until near the crescendo, with the "My life? like a hurricane" lyric and that epic finish on the drums.

But as much as I like moments in these tracks - Parts 1 and 3 have some absolutely chilling harmonies between Lee and Vincent, I can't help but tssk at the blatant rehashing of Untouchable, and the truth is that neither of these songs have melodies that even touch (har har) the glory of the first 11 minute of Weather Systems. And then there's the unnecessary inclusion of Part 3. Sure, it has some great harmonies and that nice beat again, but what does it do that isn't already done in the first two parts? I honestly feel as if this song is here so the band doesn't completely rip themselves off.

The two tracks that come in between The Lost Song Parts 2 and 3 both sort of feel half-finished, and neither of them really add much to the album, although they both have nice parts. "Dusk", with its dark and moody opening and use of quick beats, immediately reminds me of "The Storm Before The Calm", and like that song, I'm not really a massive fan. It's decent, and it does break the pattern a bit, but I feel the unnecessary over-emotion in the chorus, as well as the weird attempts at dissonance in the vocal harmonies make the song a bit annoying in my ears, but unlike The Storm Before The Calm, it doesn't have the absolutely phenomenal last couple of minutes to redeem itself. It tries, I'll admit, but the pleasant last few minutes don't quite amass to enough to really blow me away. And then "Ariel", which bases itself entirely around a quite nice 7/4 piano melody, comes in and really never changes throughout its length. I do enjoy that melody and I enjoy some of the other melodies that come in later on, but it's just too empty to compare with their material of recent times. And then we have the band's pretentiously self- titled track (is it supposed to make it more significant or something?) which is probably the best song on the album to be completely honest, but all it takes to be that is to do the good ol' Anathema crescendo, but with a better melody than the other tracks. The guitar solo here is blisteringly intense, calling to mind all sorts of Floyd comparisons, but I do also feel it's trying really hard to be that, and without the melody to back it, it really doesn't come off as anything more than just 'good'.

But after that, the album takes a headfirst dive into a completely new sound, beginning with "You're Not Alone", a spastic three-minute onslaught of DnB beats and repetitive vocal lines. Probably the biggest compliment I can give this album is how well-produced the beats here are. Too many times we've seen rock bands go into electronic music with absolutely no knowledge of how to construct a good beat, and ending up sounding embarrassingly bad, but Anathema have actually got a great hand in this, all of the beats here scutter all over the place, using surround sound and timbre excellently. "You're Not Alone", as a song, is essentially a less compelling version of "Pulled Under at 2000 Metres Per Second" from A Natural Disaster, and although I can commend the beat and the rather heavy finish, both the guitar and vocals in this song get rather annoying, especially the way Vincent takes a massive breath every few seconds in the vocals. If you're going to electronically make drum beats, why not electronically edit the vocals so they don't sound strained?

The song finishes straight into "Firelight", which is honestly a poor transition, despite being a transitional track. After a few minutes of organ/synth things, it builds into the title track (the album's title track, not the band's title track) with another very nice electronic beat. I would actually call this track the best on the album instead of the other title track, but at 8 minutes with only one real melody to hold it, it does drag on an awful lot. But the melody here is excellent, as are the instruments and electronics. Most of this track reminds me an awful lot of Above & Beyond, and not just the electronic side - both the vocal melody and piano feel very much like something an electronic artist would do, yet somehow still sounding like Anathema, which does show how well they could transition into this style. The final track on the album, "Take Shelter" contains another good beat, but I'm not entirely certain this fits with the music - the beat is rather quick and paced, yet the music is slow and melancholic. But it starts to make sense as the beat smoothly transitions into acoustic drums and the song rises up into pretty much the best crescendo on the album.

I realise that I've been a bit harsh on this record, but I assure you that that is basically because of my constant comparing it to Weather Systems. Compositionally, Distant Satellites is easily the weakest output of this band since 2001, but at the same time, it feels like the beginning of a new chapter, which is an incredible achievement for a band with 20 years behind them. The album has no outstanding tracks, but a collection of "pretty good" 7/10 tracks does add up on the whole. This may be a transitional record, and it may be a weaker composition, but I, and many others, completely expected this band to just decline and leave after Weather Systems. I suppose in hindsight, it does feel normal for them to change up and keep going, but I'm still impressed that they've done it. Distant Satellites isn't a hiccup, it's a realignment. I'm sure that once the band settles into their new style, their compositional genius will return in full form. Weather Systems felt like the absolute best thing they could ever do, but Distant Satellites has grabbed me by the neck and yelled "Hey, we aren't finished yet!". It's not likely this album will gain the same praise that the last two albums have gained in the future, but it still shows so much promise for the future of this band.


Originally written for my Facebook page/blog: www.facebook.com/neoprogisbestprog


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 Distant Satellites by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.75 | 212 ratings

Distant Satellites
Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by javajeff

5 stars So much can be said about an album when I want to listen to it over and over again. That is what is happening to me right now. I will admit that I am a fan of this band, and Distant Satellites is delivering pure enjoyment for me. It is the offspring of "Weather Systems" and "We're Here Because We're Here" with a sprinkle of Radiohead and OSI on a couple tracks. Anathema is another band like Gazpacho that has found a formula for making magical records, and I really do not care if it is more of the same. People may criticize this album for not evolving, but I am very happy with the music that they are making these days. If you like Anathema or progressive rock, there is so much to like about this release. Any negative reviews are likely due to the similarities to their last two studio releases. This is a must buy!


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