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ANATHEMA

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$16.25
$18.23 (used)
Weather SystemsWeather Systems
The End Records 2012
Audio CD$7.47
$6.31 (used)
Natural DisasterNatural Disaster
Import
Sony UK 2006
Audio CD$3.93
$5.24 (used)
Universal [Blu-ray]Universal [Blu-ray]
Multiple Formats · Blu-ray
Kscope 2013
Blu-ray$9.99
$19.11 (used)
We're Here Because We're HereWe're Here Because We're Here
The End Records 2011
Audio CD$5.60
$6.89 (used)
JudgementJudgement
Import
Sony Bmg Europe 2008
Audio CD$3.93
$2.99 (used)
Fine Day to ExitFine Day to Exit
Import
Sony UK 2006
Audio CD$5.39
$8.25 (used)
Original Album ClassicsOriginal Album Classics
Box set · Import
Sony Import 2011
Audio CD$8.59
$14.95 (used)
UniversalUniversal
Kscope 2013
Audio CD$12.19
$20.20 (used)
Alternative 4Alternative 4
Remastered · Extra tracks
Peaceville UK 2004
Audio CD$5.11
$4.53 (used)
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ANATHEMA shows & tickets


  • Anathema + Arcane at The Hi-Fi, West End on 21 Aug 2014
  • Anathema + Anubis at The Metro Theatre, Sydney on 22 Aug 2014
  • Anathema + The Eternal at Corner Hotel, Richmond on 23 Aug 2014
  • Anathema Live on 29 Aug 2014
  • Anathema at Stage Volume 1, Monastiraki, Athens on 30 Aug 2014
  • Satellites Over Europe on 31 Aug 2014
  • Raismes Fest 2014 on 5 Sep 2014
  • Anathema + Alternative 4 at Limelight, Belfast on 18 Sep 2014
  • Anathema + Alternative 4 at The Button Factory, Dublin on 19 Sep 2014
  • Anathema at O2 ABC2, Glasgow on 21 Sep 2014
  • Anathema at O2 Academy 2, Newcastle upon Tyne on 22 Sep 2014
  • Anathema at Academy 3, Manchester on 23 Sep 2014
  • Anathema on 25 Sep 2014
  • Satellites Over Europe on 26 Sep 2014
  • Anathema at The Thekla, Bristol on 27 Sep 2014
  • Satellites Over Europe on 28 Sep 2014
  • Anathema at Kulturfabrik, Esch-sur-Alzette on 30 Sep 2014
  • Anathema 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 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 at La Laiterie, Strasbourg on 15 Oct 2014
  • Anathema at Bataclan, Paris on 16 Oct 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)

2.31 | 155 ratings
Serenades
1993
3.12 | 181 ratings
The Silent Enigma
1995
3.65 | 259 ratings
Eternity
1996
4.09 | 465 ratings
Alternative 4
1998
4.18 | 516 ratings
Judgement
1999
3.82 | 376 ratings
A Fine Day to Exit
2001
3.84 | 426 ratings
A Natural Disaster
2004
4.01 | 701 ratings
We're Here Because We're Here
2010
3.78 | 332 ratings
Falling Deeper
2011
3.95 | 690 ratings
Weather Systems
2012
3.73 | 142 ratings
Distant Satellites
2014

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

4.16 | 50 ratings
Untouchable
2013

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

3.39 | 20 ratings
A Vision Of A Dying Embrace
2002
3.24 | 39 ratings
Were You There live
2004
3.37 | 49 ratings
A Moment in Time
2006
4.45 | 90 ratings
Universal
2013

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

2.53 | 21 ratings
Serenades + Crestfallen
1995
3.18 | 29 ratings
Resonance: Best of Anathema
2001
2.53 | 21 ratings
Resonance 2
2002
3.87 | 133 ratings
Hindsight
2008
3.75 | 20 ratings
Original Album Classics
2011

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

1.07 | 5 ratings
An Iliad of Woes
1990
2.00 | 7 ratings
All Faith is Lost
1991
2.67 | 6 ratings
They Die 7''
1992
2.20 | 43 ratings
The Crestfallen
1992
2.63 | 8 ratings
We are the Bible 7''
1994
2.87 | 55 ratings
Pentecost III
1995
1.50 | 7 ratings
Alternative Future
1998
2.16 | 6 ratings
Make it Right
1999
2.57 | 13 ratings
Deep
1999
4.00 | 11 ratings
Pressure
2001
3.83 | 6 ratings
Unchained (Tales Of The Unexpected)
2008
4.55 | 28 ratings
Everything
2010

ANATHEMA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Distant Satellites by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.73 | 142 ratings

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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.

9/10

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
3.73 | 142 ratings

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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
4.45 | 90 ratings

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Universal
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
3.73 | 142 ratings

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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
3.73 | 142 ratings

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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.

7.8

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

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 Distant Satellites by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.73 | 142 ratings

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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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 Distant Satellites by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.73 | 142 ratings

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Distant Satellites
Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by praj912

3 stars Anathema have been widely praised for their latest effort, and they are riding the wave deservedly. But, greatness is hard to achieve all the time and this doesn't match up to their last two albums whilst also reminding me of the good points of earlier albums.

It opens with an incessant beat and keyboard synths. It doesn't really grab you on first listens like the opening songs of the two previous albums, but it has interesting interludes which set it up and in time it weaves its spell before flying to great heights at the end.

'The Lost Song Part 2' is pure magic. Anathema don't get any better than this. Beautiful intro before Lee's trademark trill comes in and a wonderful 3 something time signature kicks in. A beautifully building song before the slight pause and pure spine tingling climax. Masterful. The (hopefully) single edit will be short enough to make it on to radio, not that we care about singles, but bank balances do.

'Dusk' is a good song, with some nice changes, particularly the melodies in the middle section, but it's not a song that I would single out as greatness. 'Ariel' sees Lee's vocals return to the lead. Again, this is another good song with some nice strings before Vince delivers his impassioned vocals. Perhaps it's the simplicity of the lyrics, they just don't jag in your brain, but that said it's radio friendly.

'The Lost Song Pt 3" has a syncopated drum rhythm and a nicely unexpected vocal melody shared between Vincent and Lee. Again, there is a positive vibe to the lyrics and the song is good but doesn't quite reach any great heights.

It's interesting to see a song bear the name of the band after all these years. The lyrics can equally be interpreted as being about the band's history or about a relationship (same thing I guess). Once again we get the building climactic ending, it doesn't get old, it's one of the high points of the album.

'You're not Alone'. Through its repetitive sampled vocal and drum loops you would think that it would be annoying, it is in a way but then the guitars cut in. Not filler, but an interlude with some nice atmospherics. Quite heavy.

'Firelight' is your real interlude, perhaps fadeout track. Nice organ work and calming, goodnight?.but then 'Distant Satellites' rears its electronica head.

There's been elements of this album that remind me of Portishead (not a bad thing) and the title track adds to it. Some hate the electronica. Me, I don't mind it, it's just that the song, whilst having potential seems rushed. The repeated vocal melody of "Let it take me away, etc" combines detrimentally with the repetition in 'You're not Alone'. From there I could almost imagine myself in some trance nightclub that I didn't want to be in, losing interest and wanting it to end. 'Take Shelter' is again kinda of nice, building nicely, but it's really just filler to these ears, the song they put on when the lights come on at the end of the gig.

So, overall, to me it's a 3.5, -0.5 to match PA guidelines. There's a little bit of a disconnect with the lyrics and some of it seems rushed. It's still the music I want to hear, but I may turn it off after 'Firelight'.

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 Distant Satellites by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.73 | 142 ratings

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Distant Satellites
Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Kevman28

5 stars I have not written a review for a little while, however I simply had to mention my appreciation for this fantastic work by Anathema. When I was a teenager I got to see these guys playing various venues in London, usually in support of bands like Paradise lost etc. They always had something special about them, and 'The Silent Enigma' was simply a masterpiece of the scene. Anathema then started to evolve and so did my personal musical tastes, resulting in many years away from their music. A few years I got back into Anathema and have enjoyed catching up with their later releases, but as much as I liked the music, there was nothing totally outstanding....until now.

Distant Satellites is on a different level. I can listen to it over and over again, liking it more on every spin. It is a risky album on their part - what with the female vocals entering the frame on a more regular basis, and the use of steady beats making an appearance too. I had read several reviews that mention these things, and it should have ruined this album for me - but it doesn't.

I am not going to go into the individual tracks, but as an album 'Distant Satellites' really is a return to the heights of 'The Silent Enigma'.

Stunning, New, Memorable and Deep. Definitely essential.

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 Distant Satellites by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.73 | 142 ratings

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Distant Satellites
Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by LakeGlade12

5 stars 4.7 Stars.

Distant Satellites is their 11th album and marks a significant change from their last album Weather Systems. I was initially very impressed with their last effort due to its high emotional intensity. But that feeling quickly went as the songs were just too similar to each other to give any lasting appeal. Fortunately the band have learnt from their mistakes and created something that will retain my interest for the foreseeable future

WS consisted of mainly positive and life affirming tracks that started slow and then reached a grand climax at the end. DS has songs of the same nature (such as The Lost Song trilogy), but they also draw from everything they have done in their past (excluding the first 2 albums) to create one of their most diverse records. Only A Natural Disaster has more variations in styles however unlike that album DS hangs together and has a united identity instead of being a collection of songs. All of the songs on DS try to give an epic feel, however they use very different genres and methods to add variation and unpredictability to this album .

The sound of DS can be split into 3 different styles. The first style is the energetic Prog-Pop style they used heavily on WS. The Lost Songs and Arial belong to this style. These songs begin slowly with either a repeated melody or with strings. Both Vincent and Lee are excellent at expressing their emotions and both are allowed to shine. The song then builds in intensity and noise and then reaches a climax which is often drawing on the load parts of Post-Rock.

So how have they progressed this sound since WS so that it does not sound like a clone? Well for one thing they are no longer just doing happy songs. In fact almost all the songs on DS are tinged with some sadness and melancholy. This adds some depth to the songs and more importantly individuality, something WS seriously lacked.

The second type of songs here (Dusk (Dark Is Descending), Anathema and You're not alone) are similar to that found in the Judgement-A natural Disaster era. Fans of the old Anathema should have a lot to enjoy here as they have the intensity and depressing nature that was so essential to their sound back then. However unlike those songs the band have picked up more ideas which gives these songs a more unique feel and it lets the band be more experimental at the same time.

I want to focus on the song Anathema itself a bit as I see it as one of the best if not the best song they have ever done. Its a good thing that I and many fans feel this way because naming a song with the band name this late in their career is full of risk. It has to be excellent otherwise its a huge embarrassment for them. But they really deliver with Vincent giving every bit of emotion he has and it also has one of their most intense and heavy instrumentals ever (outside of their doom material). They really hold nothing back and bring back that Metal which has been dormant in them for so long. General Prog fans should really like this one, you cannot get any more epic than this!

The third and final style is the use of electronic rock and ambient which the band have never really done before and so is new territory for them. These songs do not obey the slow build-up rule and are allowed to go wherever the song should go to be more artistically satisfying. I hope that the band continues to explore this area more in the future because they are very capable with this genre and can combine it well with Post-Rock.

Musically this is one of the best albums they have ever done. My only real complaint on DS is the lyrics, which are a bit hit and miss. They are too clichéd and do not have the same raw power that albums like Alternative 4 and Judgement did.

So why am I giving this masterpiece status? Partly because the band have created a album that has the best elements of their entire discovery onto one album while still keeping a common thread thought the album. Partly because apart from the lyrics there are no real weak parts in this album. But mainly because this album manages perfectly to be both accessible and adventurous. They seem to have got both the complexity and emotional balance just right. Up until WHBWH Anathema have always had a bleak and depressing atmosphere. They removed most of it in their last two albums which were successful, but it was beginning to wear itself thin. Now on DS they have got the best of both worlds and this feels like the most complete release they have done in a long time.

Right now I feel that this is the best album they have ever done. I might change my mind over time (after all Judgement and WHBWH are amazing albums and I have not had this album for very long), but I'm confident that this will always be a 5 star album. Unless you are a fan of metal this is where Prog will most likely be going for the foreseeable future. Its highly accessible for wider audiences but at the same time is original and a major step forward for the band.

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 Distant Satellites by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.73 | 142 ratings

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Distant Satellites
Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions and Crossover Team

1 stars Anathema, Nosound, Steven Wilson, Frequency Drift and thousand of other bands from Kscope has a sound that for me... doesn't work.

They have everything but Rock on their music, they have Ambient, Post Rock, Alternative Rock, Indie Pop, Electronic.... but not Prog ROCK.

I tried several Anathema albums, including the 'everybody's love' last album Weather Systems (2012). I told myself that this music wasn't for me and that I wouldn't listen to it again, but what can I say, I'm a hopeful guy, so I gave it a try on their new album Distant Satellites (2014).

For the fans, that mainly are not Prog fans but Post- Prog-Kscope fans, it'll hit the nail, right on the head. It's Pop but full of 'somber-teenager-dark-angst-don't-know- where-I'm-going' kind of music. But this time without excitement. I admit that even if it's not my kind of music Anathema had some puzzled melodies on the previous album, here it seems so... dull, for the new mass of fans they got on the last couple of years.

'The Lost Song, Part 1' is interesting, 'Dusk (Dark Is Descending)' despite of its horrible lyrics too. The rest of the album is just... I don't know, teenager music I suppose, a kind of desperated melancholy that doesn`t really seems to be true, for me it looks as if it's just for the record, if you know what I mean. At some point it seems I'm listening some Coldplay or some 30 Seconds To Mars, which definitelly doesn't help the album at all. Not to mention that a track like 'The Lost Song, Part 3' is just a rip-off from Radiohead's Amnesiac (2001) era (but without the power of the original).

Side note: 'You're Not Alone' is one of the worst excuses to record a song ever, it's almost ofensive to this song to be in an album considered to be from a 'Prog Rock' band.

They say that Anathema's music is supposed to be something more profound, something to be appreciated with calm, with attention, that it's beautiful music. But it's hard when most of the time the music on the album reminds you of something else and it's hard when the lyrics are so adolescent and meaningless. I pass, there's thousands of real soulful records around.

Possibly the fans will never agree with me, possibly many people will just say that I'm full of bull****... Well, I say that I'm right and that in a couple of years this kind of music will be burnt. Releases like this (and dozens of other copy bands) will burn this so called sub-genre so hard that no one else will want to listen to it in a few years. Well, that pretty much sums this album for me RIGHT NOW.

Pass, next one, please.

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