Anathema
The Silent Enigma


2.5
average

Review

by Trey Spencer STAFF
January 15th, 2008 | 115 replies


Release Date: 1995 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Vincent's first album after taking over the vocal duties. This album doesn't nearly show what a great vocalist he would eventually become.

Anathema started as a doom/death band fronted by Darren White. The band managed two EPs and one full-length release with this line-up before Darren left to pursue other interests. In his absence, guitarist Vincent Cavanagh stepped up to fill the vocal role. This album, The Silent Enigma, holds the distinction of being the first album with Vincent on vocals and also the last release to traverse the doom genre. With the line-up change in the recent past and a huge stylistic leap just around the corner; how did Anathema do on their final doom release?

The Silent Engima is clearly divided into two different categories. On one side, you have some solid, memorable doom that showcases hints of what was still to come. On the other you’re left with half-hearted doom-by-numbers that feels directionless and meandering – a good portion of the album fits into the latter category. There could be a lot of reasons for this. It’s entirely possible that the band just wasn’t into doom anymore, but that they were too afraid to abandon the genre so soon after losing their vocalist. Of course, it’s also possible that this was simply the best they could come up with at the time, but based on their talent, that seems unlikely.

The Silent Enigma’s sole redeeming tracks are the first two songs, and they prove that the band were more than capable of crafting some excellent doom if they felt inspired. Both of these songs use doom as their foundation but they contain a lot more ideas then anything from Anathema’s past. They both contain the slow sections including the prerequisite doom melodies and heavy riffs, but the songs are also dynamically varied. They have well-executed clean guitar sections as well as up-tempo sections where you can almost get your head bobbing to the beat. These new facets help to contrast with the traditional doom elements and take Anathema’s (short-lived) doom style to another level. Of course, the musical changes weren’t the only new elements on The Silent Enigma – and they weren’t all as welcome.

The biggest difference comes from the change in vocalists. On this release, Vincent Cavanagh has three distinct vocal styles that he uses to varying degrees. The first style is a slight mid-range growl, which he uses in more of the heavy sections. The second style is almost a spoken word rasp, and the final style is a clean gothic moan similar to what he’d further develop on the next few albums. None of his styles are very strong, unfortunately, and they don’t do nearly the great job of conveying emotion that Darren White did.

The second category is where the rest of the album dwells. These songs are all okay, and all have interesting moments, but they just seem to lack direction. They are all filled with too many quiet moments that rarely contain more then an undeveloped clean guitar section and/or subtle keyboard sounds, and possibly some spoken word. It seems as if the band didn’t know (or didn’t care) where to take these songs and, as such, they lack the direction required to push through to the next level. It’s also these inarticulate songs that really show off how weak Vincent’s vocals are. In the good songs the music is able to carry his vocals, but in the rest he’s just too one-dimensional to do anything other then drag them down farther. His inability to convey any type of emotion is the first thing that hurts these songs, but the main thing that hinders them is his inability to vary his vocals beyond those three distinct styles mentioned earlier. That inability starts to make all the songs sound repetitive and stale, especially by the end of the disc.

I like Anathema and I think this is the last decent album they ever did until Judgement brought about a new era in quality, but it’s still just barely passable. When compared to other doom that was released around the same time (and especially when compared to their album Serenades), this one just seems second-tier. For those looking to delve into Anathema’s Doom roots, Serenades is the only album you need to bother with because this album, along with their two EPs just aren’t up to par.



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At the time of its release, The Silent Enigma was Anathema’s most ambitious effort yet, and to thi...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Willie
Moderator
January 15th 2008


15976 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Three Anathema reviews in a row... I was going to do the last EP too, but I'm burned out on them right now and would probably rate it worse then it is.
As for this album, I have it rated lower then the average, so maybe they see something I don't.

Digging: Necropoli - I

TheGreatD17
January 16th 2008


1141 Comments


Willie, I don't think you do enough Anathema reviews

TheGreatD17
January 16th 2008


1141 Comments


and I dunno, but this review doesn't seem up to par with some of your previous ones, not bad but not great

Willie
Moderator
January 16th 2008


15976 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I could feel that I was getting burned out on these guys while writing the review, but I finished it up anyway... so, it's probably a good thing that I opted to not do their final Doom EP too.

Altmer
January 16th 2008


5652 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Alternative 4 isn't exactly horrible.

rasputin
January 16th 2008


14544 Comments


Anathema binge? Good review as per usual. My impression so far is that I won't like a lot of Anathema.

TimeToTurnTheTide
January 16th 2008


208 Comments


I love the Anathema ratings war lol. good review, bad review, average review. never heard any of their stuff but they seem like a truly inconsistent band

Willie
Moderator
January 16th 2008


15976 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

They've been consistent, in my opinion, over the last three albums and the songs from the new one are even better.
I don't know if there's any kind of "ratings war"... I agree with the ratings the other Anathema albums have recieved. I only reviewed the Doom albums because they weren't even listed on this site before I put them there.

fireaboveicebelow
January 18th 2009


6837 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this is so perfect for a foggy night on a frozen lake

Willie
Moderator
January 18th 2009


15976 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

If I'm stuck on a frozen lake on a foggy night I'm thinking I'd find the edge of the lake and use this cd and it's packaging to start a fire.

fireaboveicebelow
January 18th 2009


6837 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I guess I'm just more DOOM than you

Altmer
January 18th 2009


5652 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I wouldn't. Even though this isn't my favourite Anathema record, it's an Anathema record, therefore sacred. It's one of those really ugly ornaments that are really ugly but still endearing because they mean something to you.

This is like that.

This is also an Anathema record, therefore you have the right to blankly ignore anything I say as it is likely to come close to sucking the band member's collective musical e-dicks.

fireaboveicebelow
January 18th 2009


6837 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

you guys just don't GET IT

Wizard
March 22nd 2009


19403 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I found this today (the re-release of this with the dvd) and bought it for 15$ (12$ American). Was this worth it? I really want to get into these guys and I figured I might as well start with their back catalogue.

Review was well written except it made me regret buying this. I will give it a listen and comment further.

Digging: Khonsu - Traveller

lauriej
March 22nd 2009


1711 Comments


If you want to get into these guys, I recommend the later stuff like Alternative 4 or A Natural Disaster, much less doom metal and more atmospheric rock/metal.

Digging: Robin Trower - Bridge of Sighs

Wizard
March 22nd 2009


19403 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I like their newer stuff but it just kind of holds Pink Floyd's ballsack up for the most part. I want more old school doom!

lauriej
March 22nd 2009


1711 Comments


there isn't THAT much of a folyd influence
but fair dos about the DOOOOOOOOOOOOOM

Altmer
March 22nd 2009


5652 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

It sometimes does but most of it is just pure musical eargasm for me. It needs no explanation that later anathema is my favourite. I rarely listen to this.

lauriej
March 22nd 2009


1711 Comments


yeah i'm really digging A Natural Disaster right now. Are You There? is perfect.

Wizard
March 22nd 2009


19403 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Just finished listening to this.
I definitely agree with what Willie says in the review. The latter half of the album just crawls through too many synthy/ acoustic passages. However, the first two songs are fucking amazing.



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