Anathema
Distant Satellites


3.5
great

Review

by Ben Kuettel STAFF
June 5th, 2014 | 132 replies


Release Date: 06/10/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Refreshing and cathartic as ever.

Anathema began as a death/doom metal band, and the melancholic atmospheres of Distant Satellites is one of the few vague remnants of their past. Recent progressive rock has seemed to follow a trend of sadness and mourning, despite many of the psychedelic and poppy origins in the 1960s and 70s. Anathema’s recent releases follow this trend, and having started as a doom metal band, one would expect their sound to be the most depressing of them all. Instead, they have surprisingly upheld themes of love and spirituality, compared to their more cynical contemporaries. Synth experimentation and uplifting, but dense walls of guitars are the new style for Anathema. Despite peaking that sound with their 2010 comeback, Distant Satellites is a satisfying continuation of that sound, and this new era for the band would be a perfect time for them to play it safe. While to the cynical listener Distant Satellites could appear to suffer from a lack of risk taking, a number of subtle changes found throughout make it clear that they are not going by-the-numbers at all.

Many elements of this latest release sound much more stripped back, particularly due to the inclusion of more electronic elements. Overall though Distant Satellites caps off a trilogy of sorts for Anathema, and manages to correct a few of their mistakes while rounding out the threesome. Progressive rock epics are nowhere to be found, stubbornly holding the listener’s attention throughout the shortened, more immediate effects. “Dusk (Dark Is Descending)” displays one of the best instances of streamlined songwriting and risk taking on the album. After a typical sounding first half for the band, it descends into a quiet interlude before building and building and building until… nothing. The song just ends. Moments like this make the seasoned listener wonder what just happened. Where is the explosion of synths and pounding drums? The heartfelt, emotional singing about inspiration and love? It happened, but was simply a straight continuation of the more subtle build-ups, and is one of the most successful and subtle examples of how great Anathema are at playing with listener expectations. Songs like “Ariel” and “Anathema” also follow the structure of what might be considered a typical Anathema ballad, uplifting piano and synths over beautiful vocals gradually building in intensity, but not necessarily with the explosion of sound their prog epics display. These tracks instead treat the listener to a chiming guitar lead over a wall of sound that sounds strangely original and wholly satisfying, even in the context of listener expectations.

Vocalist Lee Douglas (sister of drummer John Douglas) has had a sporadic role in Anathema’s past. Her voice would sometimes carry whole songs, but might never appear again on the album, or she would randomly pop up in the background of certain songs to be just another instrument against the dense musical backdrop. Her role has always seemed to be one of a casual guest singer, but here is finally integrated into the music and used appropriately, as well as consistently. She is at times the perfect element for a song to reach its full potential. Her harmonizing vocals with Cavanagh in “The Lost Song Part 1” is a powerful display, and an album highlight.

Tremendous crescendos have been Anathema’s strength in recent years. Despite once again being the highlights here, they are surprisingly restrained, making for a more digestible and enjoyable listen. The expected epic and title track of the album are where the electronica elements appear, surprisingly feeling completely in place with the rest of the musical styles. The pulsing rhythms and melodies of the closing track lead right into album highlight “Take Shelter,” showcasing soaring synths over crisp electronic drums, closing out Distant Satellites with a fantastic streak of ending songs with a welcome change of sound. This latest release might not have the same emotional weight and instrumental complexity the band has achieved in the past, but it doesn’t need to. Anathema’s latest streamlines their comeback sound, and proves that going through multiple genre changes over twenty five years can still result in impactful, refreshing releases well worth experiencing.



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Chart.
3.7
great
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Trey Spencer STAFF (3.7)
Anathema are here because they're here and they're going to do what they know how to do....


Comments:Add a Comment 
TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
June 5th 2014


14874 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Album stream: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/anathema-exclusive-album-stream-get-a-

first-listen-to-the-bands-new-record-distant-satellites-9487235.html



Constructive criticism welcome as always

Digging: Alcest - Kodama

Ocean of Noise
June 5th 2014


6914 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review, pos. Not sure what to think of this album yet. It's definitely far better than Weather Systems, but it's also definitely not as cohesive as WHBWH

Digging: Tiamat - A Deeper Kind of Slumber

Drummerboy123
June 5th 2014


2761 Comments


I actually prefer WS over this but think it's better than WHBWH. Call me strange.

Great review btw pos.

Digging: American Football - American Football (2016)

BigPleb
June 5th 2014


47515 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is a lot better than I thought it was gonna be.

Digging: Every Time I Die - Low Teens

KILL
June 5th 2014


78395 Comments


gonna be the hardest 3

Digging: Bryan MacLean - Ifyoubelievein

Ocean of Noise
June 5th 2014


6914 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'd say it's about a 3.7

Dis_Con_Nec_Ted
June 5th 2014


4718 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Weather Systems was ok. This is like a mix of the previous two albums but closer to WHBWH which is good.

Digging: Alcest - Kodama

aggelosm
June 5th 2014


472 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Anathema... one of their best songs ever? Their best of their last albums for sure.

aggelosm
June 5th 2014


472 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I also find some 'elements' from Eternity and Alternative 4.. and that is b-e-a-utiful

Ocean of Noise
June 5th 2014


6914 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

My favourite on here is Ariel. Anathema (the song) is cool and all but it's been a tad overhyped I think

aggelosm
June 5th 2014


472 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thougts about Take Shelter?? I didn't like it at all.. especially as the last song of the album.

Artuma
June 5th 2014


25698 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

beautiful album

Digging: Touche Amore - Stage Four

Ocean of Noise
June 5th 2014


6914 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Really? I like it a lot. It's a nice, relaxing ending and it ties everything together well

Ocean of Noise
June 5th 2014


6914 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Worst track on here is definitely You're Not Alone but I even kinda like that one so idk

CK
June 5th 2014


6104 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

On track 9 right now. Things just got a bit weird. Not really sure that it works, but his voice totally makes up for it

aggelosm
June 5th 2014


472 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

You re not alone it's not that good indeed. But yeah. I really enjoyed it too

DarkNoctus
June 5th 2014


9711 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

so much better than weather systems

Digging: Insomnium - Winter's Gate

NeroCorleone80
June 5th 2014


33857 Comments


Might give this a listen, but havent really liked anything they've done since Judgement

Digging: Nina Nastasia - Run to Ruin

Ocean of Noise
June 5th 2014


6914 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is growing on me a lot. Still not sure if it's as good as WHBWH but definitely one of their better albums

elbaliem
June 5th 2014


1016 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i dont really like the t/t



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