Review Summary: Anathema take a step forward and create an interesting album that takes a few listens to sink in
When someone mentions Anathema, the majority of people think of their Pink Floyd-inspired dense, emotional sound that is presented best in albums like Judgement and We’re Here Because We’re Here. A few will maybe consider their doom metal roots. However, I find that this album gets overlooked very easily, which is a shame because it is a definite hidden gem.
is Anathema’s transition album from the doom of The Silent Enigma to the more alternative rock-based Alternative 4. There are still remnants of their doom sound here, for example Suicide Veil
is a heavily gothic-based song and Cries On The Wind
is utterly chilling. However, tracks like Angelica
and Far Away
wouldn’t sound too out of place on Judgement. Despite having aspects of old and new, Eternity has constant atmosphere of melodic doom/gloom/depression/hopelessness that makes all the songs identifiable and cohesive.
The opener Sentient
works very well by completely immersing the listener with a powerful atmosphere and a gorgeous piano melody, drawing you into the ethereal, emotional world of Eternity. Once absorbed into the album, things only get better; The Beloved
is a more aggressive song that uses fast, upbeat riffs effectively, Suicide Veil
opens with dour lyrics and explodes into a devastatingly powerful climax and Radiance
uses slow chugging and dramatic synths to build up to the vocal highlight of the album, which is accompanied by an excellent guitar solo.
Special mention must be given to the title tracks, the Eternity Suite. Eternity Part I
begins it with a riff that brings to mind the image of a slow-burning fuse, and contains some of the album’s best lyrics; “Do you think we’re forever? The unseen, the eternal river of understanding.” Eternity Part II
is a nice instrumental, similar to Sentient, that is worth hearing, but can’t come close to the quality of the other parts. Eternity Part III
is a masterpiece. This song doesn’t hit a single wrong note and gets better and better as it goes on, until it reaches another “slow-burning” riff that evolves into a stampeding outro with the haunting line “Never to return...” shouted over the top. Brilliant.
There are two things that really characterize this album. The first is Vincent Cavanagh’s vocals. When I listened to this for the first time, my only previous experience of Anathema was Judgement, and I had a bit of a shock when I heard the difference in his voice. Vincent’s vocals here have a much rougher edge to them and are generally lower. It took me a while to get used to them, but once I did, I realized how passionate and emotive they are, and that they succeed just as well as in Judgement, only in a different way. The second characteristic is the production, which is pretty much the opposite of the production on more recent albums like Weather Systems and We’re Here Because We’re Here; the guitars are surprisingly low in the mix, especially compared to the vocals, and there is a murky feeling that is found throughout the album. This isn’t a bad thing, since it fits the atmosphere and makes the album more distinctive.
Overall, Eternity is a great insight into Anathema’s past and an album that is well worth buying, so long as you are prepared for a strong contrast with their recent music.