Anathema
A Fine Day to Exit


4.5
superb

Review

by Jorn van Schaïk USER (172 Reviews)
July 12th, 2008 | 85 replies


Release Date: 2001 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Lush, emotional, moody: brilliantly bleak music for brilliantly bleak people.

Evolution of metal bands can be a very shaky thing. Many metal bands have released albums that were meant to be experimental and progressive and (r)evolutionary. However, most of them also failed. Viz. 34.788%...Complete (My Dying Bride), Load/ReLoad (Metallica), the list goes on and on. Anathema also changed their sound gradually, from a doom/death band along the vein of My Dying Bride, early Katatonia, Paradise Lost, and friends, to something that today is more reminiscent of Pink Floyd and Radiohead. Where most metalheads and headbangers have used the term "gay" or "suck" to describe this musical evolution, it has nonetheless resulted in some very great albums: 1999's Judgement is probably the finest example.

One gem that seems to be overlooked in the Anathema discography, however, is the lilting soundscapes of 2001's A Fine Day to Exit. Anathema pushed their sound even further away from the downkey, morose melodies that abounded on their previous album, aiming for a sound that feels like it's hit a middle between the more radio-friendly rock of Coldplay and the downright bleak, morose atmospheres of Tool or Katatonia. Expanding on this with a slight post-rock influence, borrowing strings and melancholia from a band such as Godspeed You! Black Emperor, it turns the album into something not far from what most rockers to day would play, had they grown up on Prozac in a lonely city suburb.

Because, you see, the keyword with Anathema's music is hope. Hope that things will be right someday. Hope that all the pain that you once felt can be washed away. Hope that everything you feel, every last bit of pressure, can be released. And Anathema's gloomy music embodies the feeling of pressure and hopelessness that arises from this. Subtle electronics underscore the monotone vocal lines of Release, and its multi-tracked chorus sees Cavanagh exquisitely crooning "Escape... Release" over one of the most memorable refrains the band ever produced. And songs like Barriers and the title track never seem to take off for a rocking moment, as they lilt on a soundscape of lush strings, softly pounding drums, and spiraling guitar lines.

Especially on form on this record is singer/guitarist Vincent Cavanagh, whose vocals could drive a listener into madness, were they to view the songs as more than pure catharsis. From the whispered, moody vocals that underscore closing song "Temporary Peace", to the anguished shrieks of "Panic", he delivers a heartfelt and emotional performance that underlines the main attraction and value of Anathema's musical providence. This isn't music for guitarniks, though it is all very progressive: Cavanagh is not an extremely technically gifted vocalist, but all his lines just seem to fit, and he sings with a lot of restraint, keeping the lush helixes of music from drifting off into blank space. And with every whispered line of angst that he utters, you feel his pain: probably the most driving moments on the record are the ones where he spits out lines such as "I've got to burn this weight out of my mind/running through my veins until I disappear/This feeling is over/This feeling is over me" over a churning power chord, driving the point home not only with a fearsome sense of gloominess but a genuinely bleak melody.

Anathema luckily don't always stay in Pink Floyd mode, and seem to be able to still take on some bursts of swifter, relentless music; but never on the record do they drift from the morose and moody themes they have seemed to embrace since the very dawn of the band. Underworld and Panic are two speedier tunes on an otherwise slow album, and they are well-needed pieces of aural onslaught: the album passes sixty minutes in length, and a full-on slow tempo approach without any churning moments would make a listener doze off. Underworld and Panic both show that Anathema can still rock out with the best of them when they want to: especially the rapid-fire vocal lines on Panic are absolutely amazing to behold from a vocalist who circa "Eternity" was more famous for his wavering, offkey approach than this sort of streamlined vocal histrionics.

But absolutely the most haunting moment on the record are the first five minutes of the last song, or actually, what is the last song (as Anathema randomly decided to tack on 12 minutes of ambient soundscaping and a boring acoustic jig, which is the reason this is a 4.5 and not a 5), called "Temporary Peace." It is the most lush piece they have ever produced, and its climax comes as an acoustic melody hovers over a sampled wave crashing in the background, with whispered lyrics and female backing vocals. As Vincent Cavanagh sings "And there's so many, many thoughts when I try to go to sleep / But with you I start to feel a sort of temporary peace", you start to realise, that at the end of this bleak piece, there is a sort of hope and emotion radiating from the music they make, something they never had seemed to be able to capture except for this song. As bleak as the album is, it does end on a high note, and there probably couldn't be a more suitable moment for the emotional catharsis than this one. And when, as a listener, you are able to be left with that feeling of hope after going through such despair earlier, you know a record is really, really good.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
fireaboveicebelow
July 12th 2008


6837 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

great review, but I really don't like this album at all

duckies
July 12th 2008


143 Comments


I've always heard this as being one of the weaker Anathema records, but I think I might check it out now. If it's as good as Judgement or A Natural Disaster i'll be well happy!

Wizard
July 13th 2008


19519 Comments


Where most metalheads and headbangers have used the term "gay" or "suck" to describe this musical evolution,

We all know they are the true faggots!

Really, really impressive review Altmer. I've seen these guys floating around here for some time now and I think this review is a sign for me to check them out.

Pink Floyd has always been one of my favourite bands too ;)!



Digging: Godflesh - A World Lit Only By Fire

Hawks
July 13th 2008


35838 Comments


I only have Serenades by these guys and that album rules. Even though by reading this review the two albums sound completely different, I still might check this out.

fireaboveicebelow
July 13th 2008


6837 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

serenades is doom, this is more like radiohead

Altmer
July 14th 2008


5652 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'd compare it to a mixture of Pink Floyd and Radiohead if they had had to take prozac all their lives. It isn't even close to being metal.

Willie
Moderator
July 15th 2008


16049 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This was a good start, but the next one (A Natural Disaster) was where they took their new direction and really did something interesting with it. Good review, these guys don't get much love on this site.

Digging: Skrew - Universal Immolation

Altmer
July 17th 2008


5652 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I like this more than AND to be quite honest

Wizard
July 17th 2008


19519 Comments


Really, really liking what I've heard from this album.

MorningView425
June 22nd 2009


162 Comments


one hell of a review, well done.

JizzInMyPants
March 26th 2010


2371 Comments


Panic is breathtaking, its like empty 2.0

laarx
June 2nd 2010


13 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

great review!
i disagree with people saying its a bad album, cuz honestly it has some amazing songs.


Voivod
Staff Reviewer
March 1st 2011


6204 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is so mesmerizing...

Tend to listen to it whenever my mood is going down the drain...

a true painkiller...

Digging: Seduced (AT) - The Proclamation

OmairSh
November 16th 2012


11548 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

DAT solo on Release

Digging: Thin Lizzy - Nightlife

Mad.
December 12th 2012


3981 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"the album passes sixty minutes in length"

That's only because of the 12 minutes of bollocks at the end of Temporary Peace.

There's no way this could be 4.5, even without that. Not even a 4 in my book. There's far too many flaws *cough*Looking Outside Inside*cough*.

OmairSh
December 12th 2012


11548 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

A 3.5 seems reasonable. Looking Outside Inside ain't bad.

Mad.
December 12th 2012


3981 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Ain't bad. Flawed though. Other tracks never seem to take off either :

OmairSh
December 13th 2012


11548 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah thats true to an extent, some songs make it feel like an aggressive album (Panic, Underworld, Release) but overall it's more mellow in it's ways. Looking Outsides second half is weaker and is so different it feels odd but I've gotten used to it.

JS19
February 21st 2013


4331 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Don't hate on Looking Outside... It's a great song

Digging: Gates - Bloom and Breathe

linguist2011
Contributing Reviewer
March 23rd 2013


1896 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Obviously more light-hearted and softer than their previous albums, but that doesn't necessarily mean the quality or the atmosphere is lacking on this album. The only thing I dislike about this album is the clean vocals which are a little weak in my opinion, and whenever possible, the female vocals seem to outdo them. That said, the instrumentation is arranged in such a way that each song flows as beautifully as the next, even if closer 'Temporary peace' is a little too long for its own good.



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