Anathema
Distant Satellites


3.7
great

Review

by Trey Spencer STAFF
June 6th, 2014 | 254 replies


Release Date: 06/10/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Anathema are here because they're here and they're going to do what they know how to do.

Anathema have been on a roll for over twenty years. Regardless of musical direction, they’ve managed to consistently release albums that were creative, emotional and fairly unique. Those three overarching facets seemed to peak with the release of We’re Here Because We’re Here. That album took every remarkable feature of the band’s Floyd-inspired, Radiohead-meets-alt-prog style and refined them to near-perfection. With such a powerful blueprint, it’s no surprise that the follow-up was the first time in Anathema’s history where they seemed to stop moving forward. Weather Systems followed almost the exact same formula as its predecessor, but it was still universally lauded because it was really well done – making the best elements of the previous album even bigger and more prominent. So, where do you go from there? There was probably no tasteful way to make Anathema’s sound even bigger and more emotive, so stripping down was the next logical step. So, while they’ve opted to use the same basic formula for the third consecutive time, they’ve also taken it in a slightly different direction (with a twist ending you’d never see coming).

The most noticeable of those surprises is the slightly darker atmosphere. We’re not talking Serenades-era dark, of course, but the album isn’t nearly as uplifting as its last two counterparts. This new feeling is augmented by an increased use of keyboards and a reduced role for the guitars. On paper that might seem like a negative modification, but it’s actually one of the biggest reasons Distant Satellites doesn’t sound even more familiar than it already does. Another cool surprise was the inclusion of the song ‘Anathema’. Honestly, that song almost reminds me of a highly refined version of something that could have come from The Silent Engima. It has that morose atmosphere, a strong guitar presence and it’s a bit more intense than what modern Anathema normally does. ‘Anathema’ also has the distinction of being the final ‘stereotypical’ Anathema track on the album.

Beginning with ‘You’re Not Alone’, Distant Satellites takes a jolting turn towards the electronic. ‘You’re Not Alone’ begins innocuously enough with a typical Anathema-style piano melody and a repetitive vocal line, but those elements are short-lived. The piano melody ends abruptly when a distorted guitar riff carried by high-energy drum&bass percussion takes its place, while the repetitive vocal line continues over the top. It’s not the best of songs as it is terribly repetitive, but it will definitely elicit a response upon the initial listen. It turns out that ‘You’re Not Alone’ is prepping the listener for the final third of the album; a portion dominated by electronics. Unfortunately, that latter section is also fairly disposable. Each track features minimalist electronics, subtle percussion and repetitive vocals (if any). Making this sudden change to electronics could have definitely lent Distant Satellites its own identity, but the songs just aren’t given nearly as much attention as the first two-thirds of the album.

Anathema stumbled onto musical gold when they crafted the formula used on We’re Here Because We’re Here. It’s a formula that they would be crazy to dismiss, and that’s probably why they haven’t. Distant Satellites is the third consecutive release to build on that foundation and it definitely has a prominent feeling of familiarity associated with it. The surprising thing is that it doesn’t really matter. Anathema have perfected a sound that is all their own; a sound that has enough flexibility to be used over and over without losing much (if any) of its impact. If there is a problem with Distant Satellites, it’s the final electronic tracks. Those songs just don’t have the impact that the typical Anathema tracks do, and they almost make the final third feel like a totally different album. None of them are inherently bad, but there could be a fair amount of people that end the album after ‘Anathema’. Overall, Anathema have struck gold for the third time in a row, but for the first time there are some prominent flaws as well.



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user ratings (253)
Chart.
3.8
excellent
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Ben Kuettel (4)
Distant Satallites covers all the dimensions of Anathema’s sound and manages to be refreshing and ...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Willie
Moderator
June 6th 2014


16049 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

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


Digging: Skrew - Universal Immolation

Mad.
June 6th 2014


3979 Comments


This looks like it probably sums up the album pretty well, great job. Haven't heard this yet, might wait for my CD to hype myself up a bit

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
June 6th 2014


16057 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeh agree with what you wrote, maybe this will grow over time dunno

Digging: Lo-Pan - Colossus

Tyrael
June 6th 2014


20900 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

That is the worst summary ever not written by Daveyboy

emester
June 6th 2014


3927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

pretty much just as satisfying as their last 2 albums

Digging: Falls of Rauros - Believe in No Coming Shore

TalonsOfFire
June 6th 2014


8145 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Agreed, it feels a little more genuine than Weather Systems but obviously not as incredible as WHBWH. Strangely for me it's the easiest one to listen to, maybe because it's so consistent

Digging: Stella Luna - Stargazer

StormChaser
June 6th 2014


342 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

You honestly believe they didn't put effort into at least the title track?

emester
June 6th 2014


3927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

still longing for that Judgement sound again

manosg
June 6th 2014


6254 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I agree with most stuff on the review. Another predictable yet great album by Anathema. I hope they follow a different path but not towards electro with their next release. I'd hate it if they end up finishing their career like The Gathering.

Digging: Acrimony - Tumuli Shroomaroom

Totengott
June 6th 2014


1175 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Time to dig this.



Digging: Head Control System - Murder Nature

Willie
Moderator
June 6th 2014


16049 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

That is the worst summary ever not written by Daveyboy
I strive to be like Daveyboy... except not chasing kangaroos ;)

Strangely for me it's the easiest one to listen to, maybe because it's so consistent
It's a little more streamlined and much less dense, so that could have something to do with it.

You honestly believe they didn't put effort into at least the title track?
It's a good song, but it's so damn repetitive. I know there's the change about five minutes in, but it's too little too late.

still longing for that Judgement sound again
Check out Fear of a Unique Identity by Antimatter.

I hope they follow a different path but not towards electro with their next release. I'd hate it if they end up finishing their career like The Gathering.
If they integrated the electronics into the songs instead of making them a whole separate thing it could be much better. I love The Gathering's later albums, though.

manosg
June 6th 2014


6254 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"I love The Gathering's later albums, though."

Even Afterwords?

ksoflas
June 6th 2014


397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Mano my friend " The Gathering" are still active. What do you mean by finishing their career?

Underflow
June 6th 2014


2579 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is probably my favorite Anathema album since A Natural Disaster. Good review, but I disagree with the idea that this is the album of the last three that has the most issues. That would go to Weather Systems, in my opinion. That album always felt like a recycled, cheesier version of its predecessor.

Digging: Flying Lotus - You're Dead!

manosg
June 6th 2014


6254 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"Mano my friend " The Gathering" are still active."

Well, they're on hiatus so they're not exactly active.

StormChaser
June 6th 2014


342 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

You should give it another chance, the last part. It's really good actually. This is very diverse as well - there are obvious WHBWH moments, less WS moments and a dash of A Natural Disaster as well as even Alternative 4. This is really good stuff right here. They didn't just follow the recipe of their last 2 records, there's more than just that.

DarkNoctus
Contributing Reviewer
June 6th 2014


8897 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

It's a good song, but it's so damn repetitive. I know there's the change about five minutes in, but it's too little too late.


idk, i don't think the song is too repetitive at all, really sucks me in

OmairSh
June 6th 2014


11547 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Willie Anathema review m/

"the final electronic tracks. Those songs just don’t have the impact that the typical Anathema tracks
do"

This. T/t would have been a lot better without the programmed drums, the atmosphere is hauntingly
good.

For the first time I feel that the passion on an Anathema album has dipped a little

Digging: Freak Kitchen - Cooking With Pagans

Zantera
June 6th 2014


111 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Only had time to listen to it once so far. Not as "meh" as Weather Systems. Glad they dropped the "life is so beautiful and wonderful" nonsense, and this album had a fresh vibe to it. Too early to talk about the quality of the album, but after the disappointment of WS, I have a feeling this will be a step up.

Digging: iamthemorning - Belighted

emester
June 6th 2014


3927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks for the rec Wille! :]



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