Review Summary: Anathema's Doom Metal peak, and also one of the most depressing albums I've ever heard.
I would love to be there to see the face of any new Anathema fan that likes them for their Radiohead and Pink Floyd influenced albums, when they unknowingly picked up this album. They would put the CD on and for the first ten seconds everything would seem normal as a simple keyboard sound fades in, but suddenly there would be these heavy riffs, slow pounding drums and double bass, and after a short spoken word intro, deep, guttural death metal vocals. The look on that poor person’s face would be priceless. What some might not know is that Anathema started out playing doom metal with a vocalist named Darren White. If Darren was a fan of Pink Floyd, his vocals never displayed it. He delivered his lyrics in a harsh growl that conveyed a strong sense of sadness and loss.
As previously stated, the album jumps right in with slow, pounding double bass, heavy guitars, subtle keyboards and guttural death metal vocals accentuated by Vincent Cavanagh’s black metal rasps and clean singing. With few exceptions, the entire album sticks to slow, pounding doom with every song having something to do with dying or coping with death. One of those notable exceptions is the acoustic song, “J'Ai Fait une Promesse” featuring a guest female vocalist singing in French. The song is beautiful and sorrowful at the same time, and is the only one that may appeal to people who didn’t know what they were in for when purchasing this album.
After the beautiful acoustic song comes one of two flawless doom masterpieces on the album; “They (Will Always) Die”. It has a perfect blend of heavy riffs combined with mournful (and slightly sinister) melodies, and Darren’s vocals making it sound as if he could just fall apart at any moment. It is a song about coping with the inevitability of death in the world and Darren wears his pain on his sleeve. While listening to this song I thought that this had to be the peak of the album, but I was wrong. The song that is even more perfect is “Under a Veil (Of Black Lace)”.
“Under a Veil (Of Black Lace)” is quite possibly the most perfect doom song I’ve ever heard. The lyrics deal, once again, with the death of a loved one but in a more direct and personal way than the songs previous. Before this album I never thought that death metal vocals could actually convey such a huge sense of sadness, and nowhere am I proved more wrong than here. When you combine them with Vincent Cavanagh’s clean backing vocals, and heavy, sorrowful riffs you have what would have already been a great song, but half way through they kick the sadness up another notch. At the halfway point all the music stops, and the only thing left is an acoustic guitar and Darren comes in (still in full death metal mode) and says “I loved her and now she’s gone”, and the music kicks back in with one of the most depressing melodies on the album.
I wish that “Under a Veil (Of Black Lace)” was the song that Anathema closed the album with because it would have ended a perfect album, but that isn’t the case. Instead they end with a meandering and formless “song” that is over 20 minutes of keyboard droning. It is a waste of space and should have been left off. Fortunately, the band put it at the end so it is easily avoidable and doesn’t go too far towards ruining the overall experience. If you like doom and were unaware of Anathema’s past then you owe it to yourself to track down this album – an album that I would place in the top three of doom albums, ever.
I've wanted to review this for awhile, and I finally made myself do it even though I'm still kind of in my Electronic Music phase again right now (just look at four out of my last five reviews)... hope it doesn't show through on this review, I tried to do the album justice.
If you can't get into Doom Metal then this won't change things... this is Doom in every sense of the word. Maybe you should check out the band Solitude Aeturnus (they have a Myspace Page), they may change your mind (if you like higher vocals).
I did and I like them... I meant to say so on your review. I have yet to check the iTunes Music Store to see if they're available, but I'm going to this weekend (if it's not then I move on to Amazon and get the physical CD instead).
The version of this that I reviewed is the one that doesn't have any bonus tracks... it's strictly the actual album.
There is another version (that I used to have) that dropped the 20 minute "song" and included the "Crestfallen" EP instead.
As for the tracklisting, now that you mention it, the word "sears" should actually be "scars" on track 7.
Cool, I'll get that album from iTunes this weekend.
I really need to get into Anathema but I just don't know which album is best to begin with.
based on what you have rated as a 5 and 4.5, I would say that this one would be the best one to start with, as the last two albums are their best in their new direction, but are much more mellow then a lot of what you've rated highly.
Edit: For you other two, check this out!!! Especially if you already have it.This Message Edited On 02.07.08
I really like Judgement and it restored my faith in this band since I didn't really like anything after "Silent Enigma"... but I still have to say that their two newest are my favorites of their new style, with A Natural Disaster edging ahead. Although the songs I've heard from the new album sound like it may beat all and set a new Anathema standard.
Did you check out the songs I posted for this CD?