Anathema formed long time ago in a galaxy far away as a metal band, initially dubbed Pagan Angel. They used to tour with bands like Cannibal Corpse. Then some things began to change. They started using exclusively clean vocals, and had a few lineup changes (though the core members of the Cavanagh brothers is somehow intact today), and now today that finds me reviewing a fairly tame progressive rock album – with more emphasis on the “progressive” than on the “rock,” even. The current lineup of the band includes 4 of the 5 founding members. This includes the 3 Cavanagh brothers (Vince and Daniel playing guitar and vocals, Jamie on bass), and John Douglas on drums. John Douglas‘ sister, Lee Douglas, has been with the band since 2006 providing additional vocals. Lastly, Daniel Cardoso, the touring keyboardist, has recently been made a permanent member of the band. While all accounts show Jamie Cavanagh as a current member of the band, it appears that the bass duties on the album were fulfilled by producer, Christer-André Cederberg. Some songs were mixed by Steven Wilson ofPorcupine Tree. The album contains 10 tracks with a runtime of 56 minutes and released by Kscope Records.
The album opens with “The Lost Song Part 1,” which is followed by “The Lost Song Part 2.” Both of these tracks are fairly straightforward modern prog rock tracks, with conventional instrumentation and vocals (except with the two and three voice harmonies that occur in Anathema). “The Lost Song Part 2” is a much slower track than “Part 1.” “Dusk (Dark Is Descending)” is up next with a weird little guitar part that is definitely saturated with a certain type of vibe. “Ariel” is up next, which is primarily a keyboard/piano track and depends heavily on solo vocals by Lee Douglas. Later in the track more instrumentation comes in, and the Cavanagh brothers provide some vocal harmonization, but Lee‘s voice and the keyboard stay as the central theme of the track. “The Lost Song Part 3” is up next, oddly enough, and this is where the melancholy vibe of the album started to get a little heavy for me. The bass guitar on this track really shines. The next track is named “Anathema,” with the best part of the song being the awesome guitar solo that probably takes up a fourth of the track. “You’re Not Alone” is a very repetitive song which utilizes chanted repetitious lyrics, as well. While the track does build up some, it is mainly electronic except for having some heavy guitar briefly in the second half of the track. “Firelight” is basically an instrumental track, really more of a keyboard and synth solo piece, and honestly unless you look at it as an intermission in the album, it is basically a waste of space on the album. The title track, “Distant Satellites,” is over eight minutes long, and is another song that is full of electronic elements more than anything else. The album closes out with “Take Shelter,” which (guess what?) is pretty much an electronic music track.
Vocals are provided by Vincent Cavanagh, Daniel Cavanagh, and Lee Douglas.Vincent and Daniel are both competent vocalists with their own unique sound, but Lee is who makes the band shine with her almost haunting vocals. The three vocalists together create a lot of variety in the sound on the album. As a sample of the lyrics, here are some from the track “You Are Not Alone“: “never could be what you want to be/ never could say what you want to say/ never could be what you want to be/ never could see you’re not alone/ you’re not alone.” Then from the track, “Ariel” you have: “I found you in the dark/ I found you in the dark/ don’t leave me here, love/ don’t leave me staring at the sun/ love’s so strong it hurts/ staring at the sun/ love’s so strong it hurts.”
Their sound is significantly different than the old Anathema I remember, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as long as you don’t think of them as the same band, because they really aren’t. The ’90s Anathema was a metal band, though sometimes they strayed into more of a hard rock sound. The current Anathema isn’t even remotely metal or even hard rock – they are purely prog rock – except for a few brief moments of heaviness and then a lot of electronic elements that is an even newer addition to their sound. With that being said, the songwriting and composition on the album was impressive, and while this isn’t one of my favorite prog albums released this year (sorry, this has been a good year for prog releases), it is definitely a decent album if you stop listening after the track “Anathema.” I’m not sure what was going on after that point in the album, but there is definitely a sudden change into a much more electronic music type of sound after that track, which I just wasn’t feeling.
Adapted from “Ultimate Guitar”