Anathema is a great example of a band who can change their sound for the best. Starting off as a very Gothic, Doom Metal band, and slowly turning into the emotional Progressive Rock powerhouse they have become. Anathema has recently released their 10th album, Distant Satellites back in June and it is a bit of a genre bending album to say the least.
In recent years, Anathema has been widely known for their last two albums, We're Here Because We're Here and Weather Systems. Both albums are a perfect blend of Progressive Rock and pure, unadulterated emotion that in the right mood, can bring a tear to your eye. Distant Satellites is no different.
The album starts off much like Weather Systems does with a 2 part song (In Distant Satellites' case 2/3rd of the song), called The Lost Song Part 1 and Part 2. Part 1 is an emotional juggernaut that indeed has the feeling of Weather System's Untouchable Part 1. A real emotional roller coaster in just one third of a song that is of course brought to us vocally by Vincent Cavanagh. Part 2, again, much like Untouchable Part 2, is sung by female singer, Lee Douglas. It is a bit more somber than Part 1, which is part of the charm, but towards the end of Part 2 really showcases the band's orchestral sound once again. Instead of going into Part 3, The band does a couple songs in between to change the mood. Dusk (Dark Is Descending) is the next song and the first song on the album to feature everyone in the band. It is a great standard on the album and a great showcase of the band if you don't want to venture into their most epic sounding songs. Ariel is one of the saddest sounding songs on the album. It's a beautiful ballad that is filled with pure emotion. One of things that really captures people about Anathema is their lyrics. When you divulge into their lyrics and listen to how they are sung, they grab you and never let go. Ariel is a prime example of this, along with its great orchestration from the entire band. Next up is The Lost Song Part 3, which is actually quite different than Part 1 and 2. It is more upbeat and focuses more on the music being played along with the vocal approach (which like every Anathema song with lyrics, is quite strong). It's not the most epic sounding of song endings, but it indeed does the job quite well. Lastly on the things you know about Anathema well, is the band's self titled song, Anathema. The lyrics are very much about the struggles of the band to get where they are now and does have a deep orchestral background that is somewhat reminiscent of the band's mid-era career with albums like Judgement and A Fine Day to Exit.
This is where the band does a complete genre change. From the first couple notes of You're Not Alone, it starts off like any new day Anathema album with somber piano, then the vocals come in and repeats in a Electronic way, then the electronic drums come in. Roughly half way into this 3;27 song it it goes full on guitar driven Electronica. The lyrics repeat throughout the entire song giving an illusion of chaos towards the end of the song. Firelight is a short instrumental song that focuses on synth sounds and orchestration an it a great natural build up to the album's self titled song, Distant Satellites. Distant Satellites is a song that would not feel as natural if it had natural drums on it, which is a very odd thing to say. To match the emotion of the song of feeling far away, like in space, the electronic drums give the song a very nice touch of early day EDM. The rest of the song is filled with piano and Vincent's soothing vocals. While this may seem like a drastic change in sound for the band, it feels like a natural progression for the band. The last song on the album, Take Shelter is another song in the Electronic world. The song again features no real drums, all electronic as done by former acoustic drummer, now electronic drummer/keyboardist, John Douglas (Acoustic Drumming is now being performed by Daniel Cardoso). The song is a great way to close out the album because it does feature the most prominent features of the whole album near the end of the song. Strong orchestration from the beginning of the album, the soaring vocals which is all throughout, and the EDM programming at the end. Near the end it makes you feel like you went through a musical journey of many different musical genres, yet still feel like an Anathema album
What can be said most about Distant Satellites is that Anathema is not afraid to show their changes in a band.from their Gothic Doom Metal days, to their haunting Alternative Rock days, to their emotionally driven Progressive Rock, to what very well could be the new sound for the band, the early day EDM stylings. Anathema will write the music that their heart is behind and this album is a great showcasing of that. Starting off with the sound they are known for currently, and slowly but surely switching genres once again to match the music they wanna create, and honestly, that is where the best music comes from is the music that means the most to you at the time of creation.
Anathema- Distant Satellites, out NOW via Kscope
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)