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Mellowing out is not an option. - 85%

TowardsMorthond, May 10th, 2012

Resonance is a compilation emphasizing Anathema's "mellow" moments (Resonance 2, released a short time after, focuses primarily on the heavier end of the band's sound spectrum). The material on the offering spans the band's career during the years of 1992‑1998, during which time they were signed to the Peaceville roster. The disc represents the more ethereal side of the band's music by compiling songs constructed of acoustic guitars, piano, ambient keyboards, and female vocals.

Selections from the band's first four full‑length recordings as well as the Crestfallen and Pentecost III eps are featured. Additionally, bonus tracks from the Japanese version of Eternity (acoustical takes on "Far Away" and "Eternity Pt. III"), three tracks from the 1998 Peaceville X compilation (covers of Bad Religion's "Better Off Dead" and Pink Floyd's "One Of The Few" and "Goodbye Cruel World"), an orchestral version of "The Silent Enigma", a live recording of "Angelica" from a show in Budapest in 1997, and a video enhanced track for "Hope" are also included. The addition of these non‑album songs significantly enhances the appeal of the compilation not only in terms of contributing to the overall quality and concept, but also by allowing the Anathema fan an opportunity to acquire this scattered and less accessible material on a single disc.

Issues should be taken with Peaceville's marketing of this disc as "The ultimate chill out album for the metallic masses". Certainly the material showcased here illustrates the more quiescent aspects of Anathema's music, yet quite often it is from this direction that the band's most emotionally penetrating moments arrive. The sheer emotional weight of moments such as the deeply sorrowful "Inner Silence", Vincent Cavanagh's desperately anguished cries in the acoustic version of "Eternity Pt. III", or the paralyzing beauty of "Better Off Dead", in which the lyrics from the Bad Religion song are gorgeously sung by Michelle Richfield against an achingly beautiful piano/violin arrangement, contain an essence of "heaviness" that strikes the listener in an often deeper and more profound manner than much of the band's sonically weightier material. These quieter, more musically relaxed songs express a substantial degree of emotional and intellectual agony that is intensified by its delivery through a thematically contrasting tranquility of sound. This realization exposes the inappropriateness of labels such as "mellow" or "chill out album" in application to this music. This is not exactly easy listening music, at least not in the common sense of that description, and those listeners who are aware enough to apprehend the communicative spirit within the aesthetic will realize the distinction.