Review Summary: How can a band live up to expectations that have been seven years in the making? I don't have the answers, but apparently the guys in Anathema do.
Taking seven years to complete a new album is a huge risk. The problem is that it provides too much time for expectations to become unattainably high, and that’s the situation that Anathema is now in. At this point, fans probably envision the band releasing their defining album – an album that all other Anathema releases will have to be judged by. They, at least, almost certainly imagine an album that builds on all of the band’s previous strengths while removing all of the nagging issues. Also, the fact that Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree
) is attached to the project probably has fans expecting at least some of the proggy tendencies that come along with his influence. Well, it turns out that Anathema’s fans are a bunch of ***ing psychics because that is exactly what has occurred with the release of We’re Here Because We’re Here
We’re Here Because We’re Here
is the complete realization of everything Anathema has been working towards since Eternity
. It’s the moody atmospherics mixed with dreamy Pink Floyd
essentials. It’s the strong emotional tones carried by an undercurrent of subtle progressive melodies. More importantly, it’s all of those elements expanded upon and delivered in a more dynamic package. Anathema has accomplished this by broadening the scope of their influences, and by not being afraid to push the BPM of their songs beyond the leisurely pace set by the previous few albums. This expansion of influences and tempos has lead to a diverse album that can flow from a song such as “Summernight Horizons” with its energetic riffs, quick tempo and excellent vocal harmonies directly into a slower, more conventional track such as “Dreaming Light”. The end result is an album that should be able to appeal to those that started to lose interest while sitting through A Natural Disaster
’s meandering arrangements.
That’s certainly not supposed to imply that the wonderfully lush atmospheres and melodies of that album are absent, because they’re not – in fact they’re back and better than ever. The difference between A Natural Disaster
and this album is that these lush melodies aren’t forced to carry the bulk of each song, as seemed to be the case previously. Instead they’re integrated into the fuller musical arrangements and diversified by the various tempo changes. They’re further complimented by the much-improved vocals of Vincent Cavanagh and the welcome addition of newest member, Lee Douglas (John Douglas’ sister – sang on “A Natural Disaster”). Vincent’s vocals are clear and expressive, and the harmonies that he shares with Lee Douglas are often some of the main highlights of each song. Without the interplay between the two vocalists, tracks such as “A Simple Mistake” or “Dreaming Light” just wouldn’t have the same depth or impact that they do.
Seven years is a damn long time in between albums, but it turns out that it was worth the wait. We’re Here Because We’re Here
is a confident step forward for the band – a move that finds them breaking free of the artificial limitations that they had begun to impose on themselves. This is a band that no longer seems hesitant to break from the Floyd-ish atmospheres in favor of something a bit more dissonant, a band that isn’t resistant to occasionally stepping up the energy levels for more than a brief moment. This confident move has lead to the best work of Anathema’s long and diverse career, a move that one can only hope doesn’t take another seven years to follow up on.