johnnydeking29
johnny of the Well
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Last Active 02-10-17 2:12 pm
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Anathema ranked

Since checking their latest I've been reminded how damn consistent these guys have been over the years. They're a tricky band to rank, but this is pretty much how I feel about them
1Anathema
Judgement


A true masterpiece that stands unquestionably at the top of their discog. Wildly understated compared to the four albums that precede it, everything about this record comes across as authentic and profoundly touching. There are some pretty bold songwriting decisions taken here, but it's often at its strongest when they keep it simple and let those depressive twilight atmospheres thrive. Highly recommended to anyone who hasn't heard it.

Deep, Judgement, Anyone Anywhere
2Anathema
A Natural Disaster


Underrated excellence. A Natural Disaster integrates keyboards more thoroughly into the Anathema sound than any of its predecessors, resulting in a lush album that (as I've always seen it) can never decide whether it wants to be tranquil or depressive, and so drifts compellingly between the two. Unlike the four albums that followed it, A Natural Disaster features crescendoes that seem to sink its songs deeper into oblivion rather than raise them to the sky, which I enjoy immensely. A small criticism is that it comes very much across as an album of songs with a similar atmosphere, rather than a seamless whole (with the exception of the first four tracks, which flow very smoothly), but I don't mind the eclecticism and have found this album very reliable for a good five years now.

A Natural Disaster, Closer, Violence
3Anathema
Eternity


As an absolutely merciless fusion of doom metal with so-called prog (perhaps more accurately described as alternative gothic from space), it is remarkable that Eternity avoided being a total mess of an album that weighed down Anathema's career before it really got started. As it is, this album is a melting pot of exciting new ideas. Almost all of them are despondent or violently happy, but the strength of the band's inspiration shines through and, unpredictable and occasionally choppy as it may be, Eternity is an early high-water mark that boasts some of their finest and most unique tracks to date.

Eternity III (best Anathema), Radiance, The Beloved, Suicide Veil
4Anathema
We're Here Because We're Here


There isn't much between We're Here Because We're Here and the two albums above it, so it probably comes down to my personal affinity for moroseness. While occasionally bittersweet or nostalgic, this is (for perhaps the first time in Anathema's career) not an unhappy album. The saccharine flair that the band discovered goodness knows where in the many years since A Natural Disaster does occasionally come across a little vapidly (Angels Walk Among Us), but they make a pretty good job of it across the first four tracks and switch things up delightfully in the moodier, more progressive second half. All bases covered, excellent album.

A Simple Mistake, Thin Air, Universal
5Anathema
A Fine Day to Exit


This album is a whole lotta gloom, and I love it. Along with Judgement this is probably the Anathema album that holds together as a whole best, and given that it is fairly highlight-averse and took a (graceful) step down from Judgement's perfection, I can see why a lot of people look down on this. While I'm glad that they went on to take a few more risks and mix things up on A Natural Disaster, I have a lot of time for the consistent tracklist and generally high standard of songwriting. Anathema have always been excellent at fleshing out morose atmosphere, and I don't mind that they sacrifice a little diversity and flair in doing so here.

Pressure, Temporary Peace
6Anathema
The Optimist


Somewhat tentative with this placement - the albums below may well snap it up the moment it gets out of regular rotation. As it is, I dig the simplified songwriting a lot. The endless climaxes feel a lot less contrive, a healthy portion of bleakness has sneaked back in, and it's frankly relieving to have a record built on understatement after the borderline overwhelming combination of Weather Systems and Distant Satellites. It's very consistent too and they've finally nailed their use of electronics, so it earns a place in the middle of the pack for the time being.

Wildfires, Springfield, Ghosts
7Anathema
The Silent Enigma


Doom! Some fantastic sounds alongside some drastic misfires. If it weren't for the godawful stretch of songs that clogs up slots #5, #6 and #7 on the tracklist, this would rival Eternity. As it is, the first half alone is a highlight in their discog, featuring some remarkably well paced (and absolutely crushing) songwriting that fulfilled all the potential that their prestige in the 90s doom scene had pointed towards. As for what happened next, well...I don't think anyone saw a career like Anathema's coming.

Shroud of Frost, Restless Oblivion, Sunset of Age
8Anathema
Distant Satellites


While it's a somewhat overegged pudding that relies too much on epic crescendoes, I am a big fan of how this steps away from the WHBWH/Weather Systems atmospheres in favour of a slightly darker sound. The arrangements are a little overindulgent and the electronic sections are hit-and-miss, but overall this is a successful mixup of a solid formula.

Anathema, The Lost Song 1 & 2, Dusk (Dark Is Descending)
9Anathema
Alternative 4


Way overrated. Eternity nailed the distortion and anguish, Judgement is perfect for the depressive prog, and caught between them this feels like a clumsy transition album that is often bogged down by its gothic roots (Empty, t/t) and a little awkward in integrating the band's new found influences (Feel, Reconnect). Still a decent album with some longtime fan favourites and an intrepid embrace of new ideas, but they improved on this sound vastly over coming years.

Fragile Dreams, Regret, Lost Control
10Anathema
Weather Systems


Crescendocore. We're Here Because We're Here brought upbeat sounds into the Anathema mix, but Weather Systems seems intent on trumpeting them as sanguinely as possible while repeating the exact same song structure nine times in a row. I do enjoy it a lot in chunks, but it's not the most interesting of start-to-finish listens for me. The highlights, however, are totally worth the price of admission.

Internal Landscapes, Untouchable 1 & 2
11Anathema
Serenades


The only album that I'm not fully familiar with, but having heard chunks of this on and off, it easily lands at the bottom. Reexamination pending.

Sleepless
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