There’s a certain aspect of Anathema
’s music that makes it so appealing to listen to, and I can’t pinpoint what it is exactly. There’s so much to their music in their now ten album discography that branches from doom and gothic metal to their now popular progressive rock approach, but it seems like only recently they are getting the recognition they deserve. And
’s Weather Systems
, you can’t blame everyone for suddenly caring about Anathema
But Weather Systems
unfortunately is the album we have to compare their latest release, Distant Satellites
, to. Following in the steps of the 2012
release, Distant Satellites
continues the band’s progressive sound and changes a few things here and there, but it’s not enough to alienate fans in the process. Which is always good, right? Anathema
are versatile enough to try such things and get away with it because their sound offers variety.
But Distant Satellites
doesn’t reach the heights in the songwriting that Weather Systems
had, even though it tries to duplicate what the previous album did, albeit slightly darker and a little less polished. The dark nature isn’t overwhelming, especially since most of Anathema
’s lyrics are dark to begin with, but it’s evident on tracks like “Anathema
albums in and they finally name a song after the band) and the brief “You’re Not Alone” showcase some of the differences.
try to replicate the dynamic and emotionally gripping “Untouchable” from Weather Systems
by introducing “The Lost
Song” and splitting it into three parts, as opposed to “Untouchable” being only two. “The Lost
Song” plays out much like “Untouchable” did, with part one setting up the album with a crescendo-based ending that constantly builds to this massive high point, (Like a crescendo should) receding into part two. Part two, much like the second part of “Untouchable.” is a softer, piano driven song where Lee Douglas
takes over the vocals and lets the dynamics drive it forward. Even though it is copying the structure of “Untouchable,” “The Lost
Song” holds its own and comes together in part three, which happens towards the middle point of the album, bringing back the full band to close out this (If you add the tracks up) 17 minute work of art.
What’s really great about Distant Satellites
is that every song is entirely different, all the while sounding like one constructive idea for the album. While the parts of “The Lost
Song” fit together perfectly, it’s the moments in between and after that really work for the band. The album’s title track introduces an electric drum beat for the first half or so of the song, which allows more of the ambiance to come in with the vocals of Vincent Cavanagh, which are doused in reverb and create this powerful ambiance unlike anything else on the record. Eventually the title track brings back the acoustic drum kit and the beat feels like it’ll crescendo, but it never reaches that point. And
that’s okay, because the low dynamic nature of the song gives way for EveryThing
else (mainly the piano and the reverb) to come through and make the song come together. The title track is definitely one of the high points of the album and impressive to hear after “The Lost
Song” and songs like the beautifully constructed “Ariel.”
The band experiments a little bit on the shorter track “You’re Not Alone.” The song is a welcome change of pace from the rest of the album, but the shortness of the song feels like the idea is somewhat incomplete. Even though the dissonant guitar and driving drums are interesting enough as they build up, you feel like there could be more to the song instead of just letting it transition into the next track. Experimentation is always a treat, but a more complete song would have been more welcome.
seems to disappear from the album, too, after a certain point. Is she not part of the band? Last I checked she was a full member and toured with the band and was present on their recent tour of the United
States with HIM
. So why isn’t she on more tracks? Quite simply, she adds a breath of fresh air to the already great songs on the album. Give me more of Ms. Douglas
. She’s too good to sideline for the majority of an album, especially when she isn’t playing any other instruments.
Her absence, though, shouldn’t distract you from the perfection of how the album flows together. Every song seems to gracefully glide into the next and smoothly transition it into the next track, keeping the album moving at a steady pace. It’s not simply an album where you can look at pictures of cats on Google to and forget it’s on the entire 56 minutes, but one where it constantly draws you in and EveryThing
else becomes secondary.
Small gripes with the album aside, Anathema
have another very strong, successful album out. Yes, it doesn’t resonate in the same way Weather Systems
did, and the experimentation feels incomplete, as well as an absence of Lee Douglas
later in the album, but it’s a beautiful piece of work that you should give the time of day to listen to. Don’t put off Distant Satellites
, because even with it’s small flaws, it will surely creep its way onto your end of year list.