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Anathema - Distant Satellites CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

3.65 | 463 ratings

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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.

Finnforest | 4/5 |


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