Classic Rock Bottom

I'll like to give it a try to review an album. Let's see, how it goes.

I can't remember, if I learned about Anathema from this side, or this side learned about Anathema from me, but either way, I seem to remember having the 2012-album Weather Systems in NMC, and I know some people around here know about this band. But let's take a few line's of band-history:

Anathema is a british band from Liverpool, like The Beatles. The line-up consist of 3 brothers (singer, guitar and bass), a brother and a sister (drums and singer) and a keyboard-player. The band was founded in 1990 as a "Death-Metal"-band, but around 2001, they changed their sound to an alternative sound/Prog sound. I became aware of them around 2011, but instead of buying anything, I waited for a "new" album (Weather System). I really liked that album, and bought the one before that (We're Here Because We're Here from 2010) and also like that one. Since then, they've released 2 more albums, and The Optimist being the newest one, released a couple of weeks ago.

I've read, that The Optimist follows the concept of the band's 2001-album "A Fine Day To Exit", but I haven't heard that album before, and therefore I'll go along without mentioning that album again, and take the songs one by one:

32.63N 117.14W is an intro of sounds, of someone getting in to a car, and hearing himself (or at least Anathema) on the car-radio (sounds familiar? I thought of Detroit Rock City right away).

Leaving It Behind start with an electronic drum-sound, and then developes with guitar and singing, until the whole band enters. Like many of Anathema's songs, it get's more and more "noisy" (in a good way), meaning a lot of their songs start quiet and gets more and more heavy. And many of their songs have...how shall I put it....not that many notes. The riffs ARE in many ways the song, but the singer may sing a "different" melodi, and the lyrics are often repeated, but again, I don't mean it negative. For me this style is awesome, since I don't know other bands, sounding like this. I thought about, what bands I could compare them to, and Simple Minds and U2 came to my mind, but Anathema is much heavier (at times). Maybe Porcupine Tree? But they seem to have more notes to play with. Still, I wouldn't mind mentioning PT, Anathema and Dewin Townsend in the same sentence. This song ends very sudden and..

Endless Ways start with a nice piano-"riff", and Lee Douglass's very lovely voice. She is probably my favorite female singer right now. The brain behind this band is the guitarist Daniel Cavanagh, and imo he is a great "maker of music", meaning maybe there a songs, that a better out there, but you/I can hear/feel, that this man loves music, and loves writing music and riffs, both on piano and guitar and bass. Endless Ways is another one of those songs, that get's "heavier", and also concentrates on mostly the same riffs, maybe 3 of them. At times it sounds like (when they were great) U2 rocking' out. You can't call the first "song" a song, so up until now, both songs are as good/great as you/I could had expected, meaning as strong as songs from WS and WHBWH (Distant Satellites from 2014 was a bit of a disappointment). And again like most Anathema-songs it ends quiet.

The Optimist start again with a piano-riff, but this time, it's brother Vincent Cavanagh singing lead, while Lee Douglass's lovely voice is "in the back". Yet another song starting out quite and then getting heavier, but never the less, imo the songs doesn't sound the same. Yet again I get a bit of a U2-feel (October/War), and when the Cavanagh-brothers sing together, and it sounds awesome imo. Vincent really also is a great singer imo, and I believe I had him as one of my favorite singers in 2014. The "ending"-riff on this song is also awesome, and imo this is the best song so far.

San Francisco is an instrumental, and again, 3 riffs or so are the whole song. Without anyone singing a melodi, this track is kind of a throwaway. I have heard this album quite a few times, and I never really skip it, but eventually I probably will. Again there's some electronica in their sound, something they really haven't had before, maybe they started it on Distant Satellites.

Springfield starts with a guitar-riff, and a piano takes over on the same riff. Even though the drums are simple, I really like the drums on this song. Lee Douglass sings the melodi, and again the lyrics are...not simple, but ... well maybe, but not bad. "How did I get here...I don't belong here". Well, it makes me think, what she means, and I like that. Then the song gets heavy with the same riff, and end quiet, but in between Douglass screams beautifully. Not the best song so far, but still a good song. Now this is were I feared, the album wouldn't have anymore good songs, but luckily I feared wrong.

Ghost is not (surprise surprise) the same formula (riff - quiet - heavy -quiet). This one has a very nice melodi, and again Douglass's lovely, lovely voice. This song also contains violins, if anyone should be interested. Some might call this song boring, but not me. So far probably my second favorite on the album.

Can't Let Go is another song, that doesn't have "the same formula". It's an upbeat song, and again a good song. This time with Vincent Cavanagh on lead-vocals, and nice vocals it is. It gets a bit heavier in the middle of the song (a guitar-solo at last, no I don't mind, there's no solo's), and that's only good. Definitely one of the 3 best songs on the album. You can actually dance to this one, if interested.

Close Your Eyes is kind of a lullaby, sung by the lovely Douglas (well, she's okay looking, but sounding better). A very quiet song, mostly all the way through. Halfway, it get's 100% jazz, and I mean jazz, and imo it sounds just awesome. The way Douglass at the end whispers "Go back to sleep, it was only a dream," makes it shivers down my spine. Definitely one of the 4 best songs. The last 4 songs are songs I feel, I can hear again and again, probably because they are SONGS, and not like the first couple of "formular"-songs, which I also like, but may get tired of along the way.

Wildfires is kind of a return to the formula. A piano-riff, and VC singing "Wildfires" 5-6 times. Then a new riff,and back again, and then it get's heavy. Not a bad song at all, but maybe one of the songs, I will get a bit tired of, after a few months. 

Last song on the album..or almost, but I'll get back to that:

Back To The Start has a nice melodi, and again it starts very quiet, then the bass and drums and especially piano appears. Again the tune is pretty simple, but nice, and again it get's heavier after a while, and again the lyrics are good but simple, and repeated a few times. The song has a nice ending with an orchestra making some "noise" and a crowd at a soccer-game singing along.

Then something that annoys me happen: Even though the song should be around 10 minutes, it "stops" after 6, and it's totally quiet for 3 minutes or more, and then you can hear..I think it's Daniel Cavanagh playing guitar and singing with his little daugther. Imo, no need at all for this, and I've only wasted my time with the last 5 minutes or so of the album two times.

But bottomline:

I like this album a lot, and currently it's "fighting" against Cheap Trick's newest album as being my favorite of 2017. I hope there will be a few more contenders, but I do really like both those albums, and I'm glad, Anathema made a better album than their last one, which wasn't that bad, but not as good as the two that came before. This one is as good imo, and that's mainly because of the last half of so, of the album. Is this album for Heavy Metal "freaks"? Nope, but if you like Classic U2, Simple Minds from the 80's and newer Prog-bands, and like to listen, really listen to music, this will do just fine.

8/10

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Replies to This Discussion

Hey, I figured that last one out.

You're talking about the TV show Friends, aren't you?

That's mighty appropriate, because I could never watch more than 2 minutes of an episode either. So I guess there is  the connection with Steven Wilson.

No SW connection to the aforementioned sitcom...  Its just forbidden around here.  See Jon for more info, if you dare!!!

Well beside the fact that both "entertainments" could only command 2 minutes of my attention, I agree, there is no other resemblance in the two.

That being said, Lisa Kudrow looks good... Can sing and write a hit song.

Wait.....did someone mention a show that should not ever be mentioned?

BANNED FOR 24 HOURS!

Good day, sir.

Just hang around here for a while Yngve, you'll hear plenty about Steven Wilson.  Niels, Scott and Jon all think he's a prog god and his new album will be voted number one album of the year on CRB.  That's a given.

I enjoyed his scary album from a few years back, something about a raven, but I couldn't get into his latest effort, something about a dead lady that no one discovered for quite a while.  I do believe boring was also a word I chose to describe that album.

Its already topping my list!  And after this it appears to be a fixed position!!!

No bias of course...  just stating facts.

That's fine by me. I hope they solve the mystery one of these days and they are not just groupies, or at least they are the kind of groupies who like to talk about their "experiences".

Wait a second?

It just occurred to me. You guys are not related to him? And you are not taking bribes to promote little Stevie?

Because if you do, then hook me up. I can use some palm-greasing.

Oh, yeah. Keep it secret. PM the details to me.

Whoa.

Hold on there.

You enjoyed the album about the bird?

Let's see:

I hate it.  Except for the first track (on the album - Luminol), which is way cool.  I'll put this on when I'm having trouble getting to sleep. Rjhog, April 17, 2013

Your cool card has been revoked, bro.

That was me aggravating you.  I see it worked.

I'm not aggravated.

I'm just disappointed.

Niels, nice read.  As far as I'm concerned you introduced me to this band when you posted Weather Systems and then made the recommendation of their previous release to me, which I followed through.  While I like Weather Systems of the two Ive mentioned so far, I did buy Distant Satellites on the heels of liking the bands sound, but I wasn't as enthusiastic about that release after hearing it as the previous two, so I stayed away from this one.  I'd like to hear it now...

I think you are the one around here, that would like this release. As I wrote, it's better than Distant Satellites, and I think it's up there with WS and WHBWH, even though they've changed their style just a bit. This album is a grower, and it took me a while, before I could hear, that it's one of the best albums so far this year. Lee Douglass certainly has improved as a singer, even though she was good before. I can't promise you, it's worth you buying it, but if you listen to only snips of each song, you don't get "it", because as I wrote, the songs developes until the end.

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