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Further Reaching Towards Their Sound - 73%

dystopia4, July 28th, 2013

While Anathema's first raw first demo did show vague hints at the emergence of death/doom, this shows the band fully attaining the sound in what is one of the first releases in the genre. Although they get the sound down, that is not to say that they don't effortlessly exceed the quality of this offering in their subsequent work. This is still death/doom in it's very early stages – unpolished and still somewhat underdeveloped. However, this still holds the importance of being one of the first of its ilk. It is reasonably good for what it is, but can't really hold it's footing as an indispensable early emergence of the genre, while what came after certainly can.

Although not their first demo, this is the first time where Anathema can really claim to hold a discernible identity. It may sound a bit bland compared to what they became, but it is here they start to sound like Anathema. This can be considered a more stripped down approach that they built upon until their magnum opus The Silent Enigma, which proved to be their combustion point when it came to their journey in death/doom. After, they simmered down to a more rockier approach while still retaining their trademark atmospheric tendencies, which are omitted from this demo. There is no gothic-tinged Victorian romanticism here – just death/doom in a primitive and unwashed form.

Still relatively lo-fi, this is much less produced than what one would later come to expect in the death/doom style. Omitting an overt atmosphere, this gets straight to the point. Simplistic chugging and cold doomy riffage are met with airy melodic leads. The contrast between ugly riffs and pleasant leads creates a dynamic that would prove effective by disciples of the style again and again. The demo has a near-cavernous feel, something you couldn't say about almost any other Anathema release. The vocals are also much more scummy and unrefined.

This is no doubt innovative but it never really comes close to the heights the band later reached nor graced the peaks the style they helped pioneer later showed itself capable of. This is good for a primitive example of the style, but hardly necessary. This does show an important link in the emergence of the style, though you're better off listening to what Anathema released after this up to The Silent Enigma for a better idea of their identity during the bands first era and an overall better listening experience. That said, there's hardly anything wrong with this and it is interesting to see how this fits into the style it helped give birth to.