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Anathema Serenades album cover
2.33 | 230 ratings | 24 reviews | 10% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1993

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Lovelorn Rhapsody (6:24)
2. Sweet Tears (4:15)
3. J'ai Fait Une Promesse (2:40)
4. They (Will Always) Die (7:16)
5. Sleepless (4:12)
6. 0 Sleep In Sanity (6:52)
7. Scars Of The Old Stream (1:10)
8. Under A Veil (Of Black Lace) (7:34)
9. 0 Where Shadows Dance (1:59)
10. Dreaming: The Romance (23:23)

Total time 65:45

Bonus tracks on 2003 remaster:
11. Nailed To The Cross / 666 (4:09)
12. Dreaming: The Romance (23:23)

Line-up / Musicians

- Darren White / vocals
- Vincent Cavanagh / guitars
- Daniel Cavanagh / guitar, all other instruments, arrangements incl. orchestral
- Duncan Patterson / bass
- John Douglas/ drums, percussion

- Ruth Wilson / vocals (3)

Releases information

Artwork: Dave Pybus with David Penprase (photo)

LP Peaceville ‎- VILE 34 (1993, Europe)

CD Peaceville ‎- VILE 34CD (1993, UK)
CD Peaceville ‎- CDVILED 34 (2003, UK) Remastered with 2 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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ANATHEMA Serenades ratings distribution

(230 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(10%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(10%)
Good, but non-essential (28%)
Collectors/fans only (32%)
Poor. Only for completionists (20%)

ANATHEMA Serenades reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by billyshears'67
3 stars Not "Prog", but I've been a huge ANATHEMA fan for almost 6 years now, so I still like this album.

Impressive debut from the Liverpool lad's. Darren White's tortured and moody vocals gave Anathema a completely original vocalist. I might add that White's vocals are an aquired taste. The guitars really are what captures the listener, presenting an ear for melody and a beaufiul type of sorrow. The lyrics are good, but not up to par as later albums would evidence. "J'ai Fait Une Promesse" is a romantic folk song with french lyrics and the beautiful voice of Ruth. The artwork sets a fitting ambiance to the proceedings. Recommended for those looking to expand their musical boundaries.

Highlights are: :"Lovelorn Rhapsody," "Sweet Tears," "They (Will Always) Die," and "Sleepless."

Not prog, but still great, if you like early Anathema.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
1 stars An overt deception

When I first heard this album, I was convinced something was wrong. My initial reaction was that I was playing a 45rpm record at 33rpm, but ruled that out as I was listening to a CD!

It's the vocals, and I use the term loosely, which are the source of the problem, they are just awful. "Darren" doesn't sing as such, he just growls very slowly, on virtually every track. For me it's as bad as rap, there's no melody to the singing just a very annoying monotone. This is pure death metal, without any suggestion of prog.

Now I have got that out of system, there are some positives. Instrumentally, the band are melodic, with powerful driving guitar riffs, and delicate acoustic sections. The brief "J'ai fait une romesse" is sung delightfully by "Ruth".

The final track, "Dreaming: the romance" is a 20+ minute instrumental, along the lines of Tangerine Dreams more abstract pieces. It's not so much a composition, more just waves of ambient sound which doesn't really go anywhere, but is certainly more rewarding than the other tracks.

Lyrically the album is well written, and the packaging is attractive to the point of being an overt deception but, woe is me, those vocals!

Review by OpethGuitarist
2 stars Doom beginnings.

Serenades is a modest start for Anathema, while not being particularly great, it is also greatly different from their later material. This is slow, prodding, and methodical doom metal. The vocals are greatly different from the later vocals of Cavanagh, and the instrumental style is also much different, although the overall attitude and emotional connections are very similar.

Sleepless is my personal favorite, which opens in a dark, clean, muddy manner, but has an outstanding guitar tone and solo. The final track Dreaming is quite different, but essentially not captivating. The band would improve after this.

Unfortunately, this album really gives little insight into the band's future sound, which would lose most all of the death-like vocals in favor of a more somber, melodic vocals of the Cavanagh brothers. For those with a taste for any kind of extremes in metal, this can be quite enjoyable, but not exactly "prog".

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Serenades" is the debut full-length studio album by UK, Liverpool based doom/death metal act Anathema. The album was released through Peaceville Records in February 1993. Anathema formed in 1990 under the Pagan Angel monicker, but soon changed their name to the current one. The band released the "An Iliad of Woes" demo in 1990 and the "All Faith Is Lost" demo in 1991. In 1992 Anathema released the "They Die/Crestfallen" single and "The Crestfallen" EP. The time was ripe for releasing melancholic doom/death and artists like Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride, Cathedral, Enchantment, and Katatonia had simultaniously layed the groundwork for an album like "Serenades" to succeed. And "Serenades" did end up a successful release for Anathema, helped along by the airing of the promotional video of "Sweet Tears" on MTVīs Headbangers Ball.

"Serenades" predominantly features freshly written material, but the band have opted to re-record and re-title "They Die" from "The Crestfallen (1992)" EP. Itīs titled "They (Will Always) Die" on "Serenades". Considering the amount of minor releases from the bandīs early days Anathema had plenty of (or at least some) writing and recording experience before entering the studio to record their debut album, and thatīs audible. The band are well playing and although not all material on the album are equally intereresting, there are some high quality songwriting ideas here and there. "Serenades" opens on a particularly strong note with the trio of tracks, "Lovelorn Rhapsody", "Sweet Tears", and "J'ai fait une promesse". Three very different sounding tracks. The former is a slow doom/death track with heavy riffs and a dark atmosphere. Itīs quite epic and atmospheric and towards the end of the track Anathema play a little faster and enter death metal territory. "Sweet Tears" is a heavy, mid-paced (...well slow mid-paced), and groove laden 70s influenced doom metal track (the main slide guitar riff is killer), featuring a catchy and melancholic lead guitar melody and loads of heaviness, and "J'ai fait une promesse" is a beautiful atmospheric track with female lead vocals (and gorgeuos harmonies) by Ruth Wilson. Darren White has a raw throaty semi-growling delivery, which isnīt always pretty to listen to, but mostly suits the music well anyway. He also occasionally speaks and sings some clean type vocals.

The goth (The Sisters of Mercy and The Mission come to mind) influenced "Sleepless" should be mentioned as a highlight too while the short "Scars of the Old Stream" and "Where Shadows Dance" and the 23:22 minutes long instrumental closing track "Dreaming: The Romance" arenīt particularly interesting. The latter even crosses into tedious territory pretty quickly. "Serenades" features a heavy and detailed sound production, which suits the material well, but overall the album is a bit of a mixed bag. Some tracks are high quality doom/death compositions while others have a tendency to outstay their welcome or plod along with very few climaxes to speak of. Compared to some of their contemporaries (mentioned above), Anathema werenīt fully up to par on this release, but itīs still a quality release in the genre and a 3.5 star (70%) rating isnīt all wrong.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

Review by The Crow
2 stars It's well knows that the musical beginnigs of this bands were very different of the music they make today... But it's still interesting to hear the evolution and discover that this first albums had some of the elements of the last!

"Serenades" is doom metal... A cascade of slow, distorted and heavy guitars with lyrics talking about desperation and love. This genre (and many others...) was primarily painted by Black Sabbath in the seminal "Black Sabbath", and at the end of the 80's / beginnigs of the 90's it was popularised by bands like Candlemass, Cathedral... And Anathema! Their albums "Serenades" and "The Silent Enigma" are still two highly apreciated albums between the doom metal lovers.

But in "Serenades" we can hear some of the elements that his band would use and increase in later releases... Some of the melodies are not really differnet of the ones included in albums like "Alternative 4" and "Judgement", like some Daniel's trademark guitar sounds, although the style is really far from the alternative prog they make since "Eternity". Also the lyrics, speaking about tortured love and obscure feelings are in a similar vein (but obviously not so good...) The end of the album is also special for a doom metal band... A 23 minutes new age song! It's something the band would use again in the future, at the end of "A Fine Day to Exit" and "A Natural Disaster".

So although this album is not for everyone's taste, if you like Anathema's last albums, then you should give "Serenades" a listening... Maybe you'll be surprised, because you'll discover that after all the years and all the changes, it's obvious that we are talking about the same band.

Best tracks: Sweet Tears (I love the groovy guitas...), J'ai Fait une Promesse (it remembers me to Parisienne Moonlight in "Judgement"...), Sleepless (a little gothic classic... Cradle of Filth made a cool version of this one!), Under a Veil (of Black Lace) (precious guitar melodies...) and Nailed to the Cross / 666 (Bonus track) (I love this great stoner feeling...)

Conclusion: if you like doom metal, you must hear this album... It's one of the genre's pillars, and it has great songs. If you don't like it, then avoid it, because it has anything interesting for you, and of course it's not progressive at all. Nevertheless, it can also be enjoyed by Anathema's fans, because it has a lot of links with later and more famous releases. But writing in a progressive rock web, I must consider "Serenades" an album for collectors/fans only.

My personal rating: ***1/2

ProgArchives rating: **1/2

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Death metal grunts and slow oppressive doom riffs. There's little in this music betraying the masterpieces that were lurking in the minds of the Cavanagh brothers. Nevertheless, together with As The Flower Withers from My Dying Bride and Shades Of God from Paradise Lost, this was the very album that brought me to doom death and all great things that resulted out of it back in 1993.

Anathema's debut pales in comparison to the other pioneers. I had heard the excellent Sweet Tears and Sleepless on my favourite radio show but I was very disappointed with the rest of the album. Given that I could only afford 2 CD purchases in a month back then, I felt particularly cheated, the remainder of the album is very tough to sit through.

Well, some artist start with their best work, others need a few years to mature. Great artwork though!

Review by EatThatPhonebook
3 stars In a way, this is a pretty good debut, unlike many people think. In fact, I tend to prefer this album to their following studio album, "The Silent Enigma".

"Serenades" sure has some tired and forced vocals and melodies, being just plain death doom metal with no other original elements, but the good moments aren't completely absent; "Je Fiat Une Promesse" is a beautiful, acoustic ballad, sung almost all in French by fragile, female vocals. "Sweet Tears" has a good melody, and creates a very effective and creepy atmosphere. "Sleepless" is a tense and neurotic song, but very impressive in many parts. Even in the last, final song, the ambient piece "The Dreaming", has some haunting and wonderful moments, even tough after 23 minutes it gets a little repetitive.

But the rest is easily forgettable, emotionless doom metal, that doesn't transmit any emotions whatsoever.

As a conclusion, I gave this 3.5 stars, only thanks to the few songs I mentioned. The rest, like I said, is avoidable.

Review by ZowieZiggy
1 stars One reviewer is rating this album with the masterpiece status... Well, I guess that I will balance this rating for sure.

It is especially true when you bear in mind that there isn't one single track to obey to any prog concept in here. It is not because "J'Ai Fait Une Promesse" is an all acoustic song that it should be considered as prog. It is just a boring lamentation; sung by a young lady. Period.

As Easy Livin has said in his accurate review (as usual); there are some interesting instrumental parts featured on this album. But I want to add that these aren't really innovative since the doom metal genre was invented a long, long time before this work. And everybody knows of whom we are talking about, right?

If you like growling vocals (which I hate personally), you might be interested by this "work". One of the extremely few decent moments is the closing and instrumental part of "They Will Always Die". The second one is probably the "Cure" oriented "Sleepless". It is seriously borrowing from the great "A Forest" ("Cure"). Vocals are almost decent as well (but only during the first half, unfortunately).

The long and instrumental closing number is a peaceful electronic (!) prog moment. I have no clue as of how this track was generated but it is a fine and pleasant piece of music, although very simple and truly repetitive.

One star for the whole.

Review by Conor Fynes
2 stars 'Serenades' - Anathema (4/10)

Although the band Anathema has since gone down a much more atmospheric and melodic route with their music, it's important to note that the group began as one of the pioneers of death doom metal, a style of music similar in its melancholic feeling to what Anathema has done more recently, but much heavier and darker in the one it is executed. With a few demos and this debut 'Serenades', Anathema would be setting the groundwork for a style that has since become much more popular by the likes of bands like Swallow the Sun. Although 'Serenades' is a classic work for its development in that doom metal sound, it is an incredibly hit-or-miss ordeal throughout, and may be better appreciated for its place in history than as a listening experience of its own.

Fronted by growler Darren White, the sound of Anathema at this time is generally very heavy, downtempo and foreboding, using equal mesaures of the doom metal style innovated by Black Sabbath, and the newer death metal sound to create something that is dark, solemn and full of sadness. The album unfortunately however falls into a weak standing for its lack of cohesion and flow as an album; although Anathema is making some great steps forward with music here, they fail to create a piece of work that is bound together tightly. Instead, what we have here is a collection of tracks that range from excellence to somewhat boring exercises in distorted heaviness. The album's opener 'Lovelorn Rhapsody' has since become a classic song for death doom; a piece of music that cycles through darkness and beauty very powerfully. The real hit here however is 'Sleepless', a much more melodic and concise track than most on 'Serenades', featuring a post-punk mentalitty that wouldn't feel out of place on a Cure album. Besides that, the songs here so consistent, although moments arise where the more melodic beauty overpowers the raw heaviness. 'They Die' features a symphonic end that is a really nice breath of fresh air for the sound, and 'Under A Veil' has some beautiful guitar harmonies to work with.

Another issue is the weak production of the album here, which at times works quite well, but the heavier sections generally suffer as a result . Darren White's vocals are also quite inconsistent as a vocalist; at times his voice can make some really great growls that only add to the vibe of the music, and at others sound like nothing more than an adolescent whisper.

A disappointing album considering its great importance to the development of doom metal as it is heard today, but it is not without a few gems.

Latest members reviews

1 stars I must say that even though Anathema has the status of one of the pillars of doom-death, it is simply difficult to come up with a worse start to their career than Serenades. Perhaps the main problem is not in the ugly compositional structure of songs and even not in tortured riffs. The main problem ... (read more)

Report this review (#2542211) | Posted by Peacock Feather | Wednesday, May 12, 2021 | Review Permanlink

2 stars After two demos and one EP, in 1993 Anathema finally released their debut full-length album, Serenades. At the time, Anathema were considered one of the forerunners of the emerging death/doom genre, together with countrymen Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride (the so-called "Peaceville Three", as all t ... (read more)

Report this review (#2489737) | Posted by lukretio | Saturday, January 2, 2021 | Review Permanlink

1 stars As both doom-metal lover and proghead, this album only captured my attention 15 years ago when I ventured into the doom-metal territory and hadn't heard any other doom metal albums before. I am fully in 'accord' with other reviewers - this bleak effort has also a bleak music quality, unfortunat ... (read more)

Report this review (#2040811) | Posted by sgtpepper | Thursday, October 4, 2018 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Serenades' story is an unfortunate one, mainly due to the album being unknowingly doomed from the start to be cast aside because of how much of a reputation Anathema would gain with subsequent albums. I'm not the first one to say it, but it's fairly cut-and-dry that Anathema's debut does not mat ... (read more)

Report this review (#1743850) | Posted by aglasshouse | Saturday, July 15, 2017 | Review Permanlink

1 stars 2.5/10 My God, this album is very bad. Gives me a heartache to know that I had to hear it. I already knew that in his early career Anathema away a doom metal band, with a sound radically different alternative post-rock/rock heard in his later albums. But anyway, I did not expect to have to ... (read more)

Report this review (#992924) | Posted by voliveira | Saturday, July 6, 2013 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Serenades ? 1993 7 ? Best Song: The stupid one with the French title Oh, how this album channels deep into my soul, my windswept, despairing sense of inner turmoil, and characterizes the epitome of human suffering for all eternity. Serenades is a catechism of anguish and torment, FOREVER! ... (read more)

Report this review (#459137) | Posted by Alitare | Saturday, June 11, 2011 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Anathema's first album is, unmistakeably, a doom metal offering. It growls and groans and thunders and crunches and thunders its unstoppably behemothic way through pain and misery, as any such album should. That's not to say, of course, that this is some uninventively meat-headed metal stereotype. ... (read more)

Report this review (#457493) | Posted by stranded_starfish | Sunday, June 5, 2011 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Please note this is a review of the original album, the first pressing. This is the debut album from Anathema. It is radically different from their later life as a Pink Floydish act. Serenades is a doom metal album. Although the music on this album is not as slow as Cathedral's seminal album ... (read more)

Report this review (#249045) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Sunday, November 8, 2009 | Review Permanlink

2 stars About Anathema: From the beginning of their career to 1995 there is nothing so special about them. In the "Pentacost III" ep and in "Eternity" they manage to make us understand that they are meant for something bigger, something that would latter come with what I consider their best album "Alt ... (read more)

Report this review (#91982) | Posted by sularetal | Monday, September 25, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Anathema were part of the "Big Three" of Doom Metal in England in the early 90's along with Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride, yet they seemed to be the most underrated of these. Something which I never could understand. For Serenades was, in my opinion, the hands down winner of the three debu ... (read more)

Report this review (#85976) | Posted by bleak | Sunday, August 6, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Even if can be considered as prog I think that Anathema's Serenades is a really good album. They added growling vocals and other littles elements of "death" metal to what could be called "doom" metal and filling it with significant emotional lyrics (make sure you have a written version of the ly ... (read more)

Report this review (#80565) | Posted by Dr4Wazo | Tuesday, June 6, 2006 | Review Permanlink

2 stars I bought this CD as part of a serenades/crestfallen double CD mainly to complete my Anathema collection. Like on the Crestfallen EP, this is doomdeath with occasional melodic passages. Songs again are sometimes good, sometimes average. "Lovelorn Rhapsody" is probably the less melodic song on ... (read more)

Report this review (#64610) | Posted by zaxx | Friday, January 13, 2006 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Just I said on my (short) review of "The Crestfallen" EP, ANATHEMA's "Serenades" is nothing more than doom metal. The only song that makes a difference is the beautiful acoustic track "J'ai fait une Promesse" sung by female vocalist Ruth, and of course not forgetting the 22-minute ambient trac ... (read more)

Report this review (#46489) | Posted by Prosciutto | Monday, September 12, 2005 | Review Permanlink

2 stars On "Serenades" you can clearly hear the band "Anathema" is still trying to find there sound. There are only a few songs worth mentioning like, "J'Ai Fait une Promesse" it really make me emotional. Personally I like the album, but its not impressive. ... (read more)

Report this review (#30084) | Posted by | Thursday, June 2, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Fantastic doom metal from England that most of you Proggers would be better off avoididng. However, their depressive balance between melody, Romanticism and heaviness should impress even the most hardheaded music listener. 'Serenades' is as a great an introduction to the genre as any. Anath ... (read more)

Report this review (#30081) | Posted by | Saturday, May 22, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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