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For some time, I was quite prejudice towards Anathema's later material. Later than 'The Silent Enigma', that is. I've come across a few bands that have crossed over genres. Usually from doom metal to any form of rock. Anathema are no different. What was once a doom metal band, with death metal elements, are now an atmospheric rock band. In the past, when i've seen this occur, bands tend to lose their way. The momentum wasn't carried over and although they might have lost fans from the 'golden days', they've gained new popularity under a new genre name. Anathema are one of the few fortunate bands that have managed to carry over their success from one genre to another without losing fans but instead, gaining many new ones and with ease. A lot of the plaudits has to go to the musicians of Anathema, obviously. As band members have come and gone, Anathema have weathered the storm and appear to be entering a phase of their careers when their best material is flowing from the mind to their individual instruments with class.
Musicianship is order of the day for those of you looking to hear 'Alternative 4'. Anathema seems to have kept much of the dark brooding concepts and have carried them over from earlier albums, on to this particular piece. Though the sound is much different to what it was, the goal seems to be the same as it ever was. The idea of 'Alternative 4' appears to be to portray a vast array of negative emotions to the audience. Despite this, there can be moments of a truly touching nature:
"When the silence beckons,
And the day draws to a close,
When the light of your life sighs,
And love dies in your eyes,
Only then will I realise,
What you mean to me."
Lyrics are never usually that important to me, but it's nice to feel a connection with what the bands vocalist is singing about. Not only are the lyrics quite touching, but they are also universal. I'm sure the majority of us have felt inner struggles such as these, or will do in the future. It's inevitable. The effectiveness of the lyrics is obviously down to the vocals. Whilst I used to consider myself a fan of the old Anathema style, the experimentation of the band brings out the best in their abilities. The vocals, which are now cleaner than ever before, are more affective. The lyrics now have a greater chance of being coherent with the vocals being of a clean nature. Whilst the old growling style wasn't exactly incoherent, the overwhelming style of the clean vocals suits the style of Anathema more. Of course, albums like 'The Silent Enigma' were designed to be heavier, therefore the vocals were also heavier, but this more subtle venture appears to be where Anathema can truly get to work on cementing their reputation amongst the best rock bands not only to come out of England, which there are a fair few, but the world no less.
As I said, the subtlety of Anathema is something I can greatly appreciate right now. What with being ill, I needed some soothing music and this is just the right thing for my mood. It's not only because i'm unwell, but as i've got older, my tastes have swayed more and more towards a softer sound than ever before. This is something Anathema provides, both in terms of their soundscapes and their lyrics:
"As I drift away... far away from you,
I feel all alone in a crowded room,
Thinking to myself
"There's no escape from this
The soundscapes, which i've touched upon, are gorgeous. They're concealed under a shroud of emotion, but gradually, after steady build up play, they're released for us all to gaze upon. Using acoustics and clean vocals are to Anathema's gain. The acoustics add a whole new atmospheric touch to the music on 'Alternative 4'. They don't sweep you off your feet like the electric's do, but they softly take you by the hand to look out upon the marvellous creation that 'Alternative 4' is. There are times when the pace quickens, so it certainly doesn't become drab at any stage. The percussion element of Anathema would never allow that anyway. Musicianship is again credited here. The use of varied tempos, varied sounds from the acoustics to the piano or keyboards all add up to a fine piece of work. So, my opinion of Anathema is slowly developing. As my knowledge on their music continues to grow, so does my appreciation. 'Re-connect' is my favourite song on the album.