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Anathema - Alternative 4 CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

4.05 | 614 ratings

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Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
3 stars After starting out as a doom metal band, by their fourth album released in 1998, Anathema has taken steps in the right direction. "Alternative 4" still retains two of the original members, Vincent and Daniel Cavanaugh. Duncan Patterson is on bass and has been since just before 1991, so he's almost an original having replaced Jaimie Cavanaugh. However, the drummer is newcomer, Shaun Steels, and thus this is the only album that does not have John Douglas on it. Steels would only be in the band for this album and John would rejoin to remain with the band until present day. Steels does an adequate job however, it is hard to tell much difference in the sound of the percussion on this album.

So, by this point, the growling vocals have been replaced by clean vocals by Vincent, who sometimes almost sounds like Roger Waters from Pink Floyd. The vocals are definitely emotional and dymanic. Everything else is also in top form, except for one thing, they haven't quite found their sound yet. There are times on this album that are definitely top notch, but for the most part, there really isn't anything much that is progressive here. The band is no longer just doom metal, but more like a dark, hard rock with a lot of slow beautiful melodies mixed in. It's a good mix and a good sound, but it's still not as great as it will become.

Overall, this album is enjoyable, yet very dark and depressing. There is a lot of great heavy guitar here, enough keyboards to keep a certain degree of variety in the sound. Most of the sound that stands out here is in the guitar work, and that is the best part of this album. The band approaches a progressive sound, as in the title track, with some tricky percussion and rhythm, but the meter is still a basic 4/4. Not that this necessarily determines if it is progressive, because there is plenty of great progressive music that is in a basic meter. The songs and lyrics are not formulaic, but they do sound very much like a heavy metal attitude, just toned down to give a feeling of more variables in the music. This leaves the band open to explore some more mellow passages, which they do also.

So with there being a lot of variety in the sound, the songs don't seem to vary much in having their own personalities, they all seem to follow a similar sound. Aside from this, the album is good enough to listen to from time to time. The best parts of the album are in the title track and in "Regret" which coincidentally are the longest tracks on the album. It seems like there is more freedom to explore the music and things aren't quite so rushed. There is another degree added to the album in the bonus tracks that are available on the 2003 remaster. All four of the bonus tracks are covers, and three of those covers are Pink Floyd songs, so there is definitely a degree of their influence in the music the band was exploring at the time. The other cover is a Bad Religion cover "Better Off Dead", so there is part of the Alternative influence. This cover is absolutely amazing and emotional and I just love it. This is a good, heart-felt album, and the movement of the band is in the right direction here, but because of the degree of same-ness on this album, it's a strong 3 star album.

TCat | 3/5 |


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