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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$8.07
$9.96 (used)
ANATHEMA Universal [Blu-ray]ANATHEMA Universal [Blu-ray]
Multiple Formats · Blu-ray
Kscope 2013
Blu-ray$10.91
$19.33 (used)
Weather SystemsWeather Systems
The End Records 2012
Audio CD$5.04
$4.78 (used)
UniversalUniversal
Kscope 2013
Audio CD$12.64
$21.10 (used)
We're Here Because We're HereWe're Here Because We're Here
KSCOPE 2013
Audio CD$6.45
$14.42 (used)
JudgementJudgement
Import
Sony Bmg Europe 2008
Audio CD$4.23
$4.98 (used)
Alternative 4Alternative 4
Remastered · Extra tracks
Peaceville 2004
Audio CD$4.79
$13.78 (used)
Original Album ClassicsOriginal Album Classics
Box set · Import
Sony Import 2011
Audio CD$8.97
$13.38 (used)
Fine Day to ExitFine Day to Exit
Import
Sony UK 2006
Audio CD$4.17
$9.47 (used)
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ANATHEMA shows & tickets


  • Anathema at Sala, Ciudad de México on 2 Feb 2015
  • Anathema - Satellites Over South America on 6 Feb 2015
  • Anathema at Teatro Vorterix, Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires on 7 Feb 2015
  • Anathema at Clash Club, São Paulo on 8 Feb 2015
  • Anathema at Leeds Minster, Leeds on 4 Mar 2015
  • Anathema at Exeter Cathedral, Exeter on 5 Mar 2015
  • Anathema at Winchester Cathedral, Winchester on 6 Mar 2015
  • Anathema at Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, Liverpool on 7 Mar 2015
  • Roadburn Festival 2015 on 9 Apr 2015
  • Anathema at 013, Tilburg on 12 Apr 2015
  • Resonance : A Celebration Of The Entire History Of Anathema Music on 13 Apr 2015
  • Resonance: A Celebration Of The Entire History Of Anathema Music on 16 Apr 2015
  • Resonance: A Celebration Of The Entire History Of Anathema Music on 17 Apr 2015
  • Anathema at garajistanbul, Istanbul on 23 May 2015
  • Anathema at garajistanbul, Istanbul on 23 May 2015
  • ProgPower USA XVI on 11 Sep 2015
  • Cruise To The Edge 2015 on 15 Nov 2015

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 | 161 ratings
Serenades
1993
3.11 | 190 ratings
The Silent Enigma
1995
3.66 | 265 ratings
Eternity
1996
4.08 | 479 ratings
Alternative 4
1998
4.17 | 539 ratings
Judgement
1999
3.83 | 379 ratings
A Fine Day to Exit
2001
3.85 | 439 ratings
A Natural Disaster
2004
4.04 | 723 ratings
We're Here Because We're Here
2010
3.85 | 328 ratings
Falling Deeper
2011
4.00 | 701 ratings
Weather Systems
2012
3.74 | 268 ratings
Distant Satellites
2014

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

4.45 | 49 ratings
Untouchable
2013

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

3.39 | 20 ratings
A Vision Of A Dying Embrace
2002
3.26 | 40 ratings
Were You There live
2004
3.41 | 52 ratings
A Moment in Time
2006
4.60 | 88 ratings
Universal
2013

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

2.61 | 22 ratings
Serenades + Crestfallen
1995
3.18 | 29 ratings
Resonance: Best of Anathema
2001
2.53 | 21 ratings
Resonance 2
2002
3.94 | 130 ratings
Hindsight
2008
4.39 | 18 ratings
Original Album Classics
2011

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

1.31 | 7 ratings
An Iliad of Woes
1990
2.07 | 9 ratings
All Faith is Lost
1991
3.00 | 7 ratings
They Die 7''
1992
2.21 | 45 ratings
The Crestfallen
1992
2.89 | 9 ratings
We are the Bible 7''
1994
2.88 | 56 ratings
Pentecost III
1995
1.63 | 8 ratings
Alternative Future
1998
2.27 | 7 ratings
Make it Right
1999
2.57 | 13 ratings
Deep
1999
4.09 | 11 ratings
Pressure
2001
3.43 | 7 ratings
Unchained (Tales Of The Unexpected)
2008
4.54 | 29 ratings
Everything
2010

ANATHEMA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Weather Systems by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.00 | 701 ratings

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Weather Systems
Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Thai Divone

5 stars Some bands one discovers by purpose, going through listings of great albums, looking and asking for recommendations. Others one discovers by accident, a strange set of circumstances, the stars turning right, something like that. Anathema's Weather Systems was such an album for me. And unlike many other accidental "discoveries", this one is no less than a masterpiece.

A few years earlier, it turns out, Anathema were a Prog-Metal band, and then they decided that they wanna change their style. Weather Systems came after the change and finds them stronger than ever (or at least, that's what they say. I don't know their earlier stuff too much, mainly because I'm not that much into the Metal-realm).

Their music is based on repetitive riffs. We are presented with a riff in the beginning of the song, and then they build upon it and/or detract from it. Some will say that it's too monotonous, but for me it is just beautiful. One thing that can't be taken from them, though, is their ability to write melodies. Weather Systems is a Master Class in melody-writing, utilizing their talent but with no need to show off. They know what they're doing.

Their lyric writing, on the other hand, is far less impressive. Their lyrics are simple and very emotional, but they're a bit too naïve for my taste sometimes. The great voices of the singers keep those words alive and touching.

The album opens with a great fingerstyle-guitar riff, joined by a nice walking bass. Vocals join not much later, and the song starts to get a life of its own. Layers are slowly added, building the feel and atmosphere of the album, an album one has to listen to from start to finish, in a single sitting. The song builds itself, climaxing near the 3 minutes' mark. Some nice heavy rock influences during those moments. "Untouchable, Part 1" concludes on a very high emotional level, starting our spiral towards the distance, foreshadowing the storm that begins to show and come.

"Untouchable, Part 2" starts with a great piano riff, in a much slower pace. The hubris is a bit broken, feelings start to abound. Near the 1:40 the song starts to change a little, and layers are again starting to be added, creating the song as it is being played. Slide guitar joins and not much later the drums and bass show their presence. Very melancholic, very winter- y. the second part references it's earlier part quite a lot during the next moments, before concluding, leaving us with a heavy dose of emptiness.

The Gathering of the Clouds starts with storm, both literally and figuratively. Fingerstyle guitar for the riff, a very quick pace throughout. The singers harmonize each other, showcasing their great singing abilities. And it all leads to? A lightning. Which is much slower quite surprisingly, even though no less atmospheric. The contrast between this song and the earlier one creates a small dissonance in the mind, making us think, making us feel the coldness and coolness of the situation. Around the 3:13 mark the suspense pays off, with a great guitar solo accompanied by a great drums work. The bass line in here is no less than amazing. So many layers in this song, and yet it feels so elegant and right. 4:30 and we're back in the beginning of the song, the lightning is behind us.

And then a sunlight comes out, and we feel a little bit better. A slow pace, with much Hammond work and a nice little fingerstyle guitar accompanies a lone voice, joined sometimes by another. Suspense is starting to be created, though, and a steady drum bit grows louder and louder as the time and the song move onward. Electric guitars show presence around 2:40, only to accelerate the building, to culminate around 3:11 to the song twists and turns, and then stops almost abruptly, continuing almost whispery for a second or so more.

Then a storm comes, a storm that comes before the calm. A bass line that is just pure genius accompanies a great bass- drum line, before all hell breaks loose and it just gets colder and colder. Melancholic, emotional and a maybe even depressing. In most albums, this song will feel a bit out of place, but here it feels so right somehow. A completely different style of a song, and yet so fits. Some nice electronics around the 2:45 mark, heard over a storm made of a drum and a bass. A wind blows around the 4 minutes mark, and then we're slowing towards the 5 minutes mark, only to see the damages, to understand what we have lost. A completely different song emerges, so different yet the same one. A new world, maybe?

The Beginning and the End is my favorite track in this wonderful album. A great keyboards riff on which the song slowly builds itself, layer after layer joining the mix. A little bit before the 2 minutes mark the electrics join in, and the singer asks for help because "the silence is raging" inside him and all around him and everywhere in between. A nice guitar solo comes afterwards, and the drums and bass almost but not quite attack our ears, doing it just in the right level. Another, yet different, guitar solo, and then a beautiful keyboards riff joins, softly and gently guiding us away and onwards towards our next stop, towards our future.

Then comes The Lost Child. A slow, moving song, starting in the low volumes and slowly grows fuller and richer, even though not louder in the common sense. A great keyboards line takes us next, before the vocals join in. it starts to slowly accelerate around the 1:30 mark, before slowing again around the 3:10. Then the pace starts to build again, leading to an explosion on the 5 minutes mark. And yet the basic riff is still there, keeping us somewhat still in control, holding the song back a little. Around 5:55 we slow again, going softer and lighter, even though not happier.

Then we go within, into the Internal Landscapes. A few spoken words guide us next, leading us towards our last station on our journey. Guitars join the Hammond around the 1:40 mark, and then: "I was peace, I was love". We've completed a circle, we were born again. We feel again, we love again. Now it is said clearly- this is a spiritual album, this is a search for identity. Drums and guitars join forces, 4:10 and electrics are back. Guitar and singer harmonize around the 6 minutes mark, and then, around 6:30- silence. The spoken words come again, and again we hear those words: "I was peace, I was love". And then- a lone Hammond takes us to the end, leaving us to think?

And then it ends.

2012 was a busy year for prog-heads and yet, for me, this album is the real treat of that year. Maybe it is because I read into it a bit too much, and maybe it is because my taste changes as the years go by, but? I can't grant this album any less than five stars. Even though it doesn't bring anything new to the table, it is, for me, an essential album, and almost no-less important: another great rebuttal to the statement that "Prog is dead". Well, it's not, it's only a little bit harder to find?

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 Distant Satellites by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.74 | 268 ratings

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Distant Satellites
Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

2 stars It's my birthday so I gave myself time to listen to and review a new album of a band that's new for me. It is time to introduce the English band "Anathema" which has done eleven studio albums between 1993 and 2014. The genre "Experimental/Post-metal", I have no idea what it is but it(the genre title) doesn't sound good. I would like to call it boring music but I cede. This eleventh album by Anathema: "Distant Satellites" from 2014 has a red and quite anonymous cover and it features the musicians "Vincent Cavanagh"(voice, guitar, vocoder), Danny Cavanagh(guitar, keyboards, vocie), Jamie Cavanagh (bass), John Douglas(drums, keyboards) and Lee Douglas(voice).

I am sorry but after some listening to this music I can't help but feeling bored and a bit tormented. I have hard to see charm and hear lovely music in this even if I try. I found the compositions whiny and the performances so unvaried that I felt it was all the same song. That hadn't of course been a problem if it was a good song. Of course the album has great moments! Just as the landscape has its valleys are there mountains to climb and views to oversee. This lowland has some hills of which the second part of "Arial"(6/10) is the highest. From that hill you can stand and feel the power of being a living man. But the climbing uphill was whiny as usual. The track with the famous name "Anathema" had similar merits(6/10) that made me overlook my difficulties. The instrumental ending of "Take shelter" wasn't bad at all(6/10).

The other compositions weren't necessarily bad but definitely boring and I do not recommend this record to anyone. I know music is a matter of taste and this was not in my taste. Though do I recommend one song: "Ariel" for its instrumental second half and I feel generous enough to give the record two stars.

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 Judgement by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 1999
4.17 | 539 ratings

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Judgement
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
3.74 | 268 ratings

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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 | 479 ratings

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Alternative 4
Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

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
3.74 | 268 ratings

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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
3.74 | 268 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
3.74 | 268 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
4.60 | 88 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
3.74 | 268 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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