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Anathema have progressed so much since their primitive first release, Serenades, from the straightforward Alternative 4 to the moody progressive structures in Judgement to the beautiful atmospheres of A Natural Disaster. And now, 7 years (!) after A Natural Disaster's initial release comes their latest effort, We're Here Because We're Here.
We're Here Because We're Here is a natural progression from A Natural Disaster, maintaining the atmospheres of the latter while de-emphasizing the guitars quite a bit. A lot of the songs here are mainly presented with a piano accompaniment and lush strings in the background, replacing the distorted guitar crescendos of previous endeavors such as "Balance" and "Closer" from the previous album. This doesn't mean that guitars are completely gone, however. Clean and acoustic guitar is heard throughout the album, and distortion also makes its way into the opener "Thin Air" and second track "Summernight Horizon."
The best thing about We're Here Because We're Here is that Anathema pretty much do everything right here. The songs are very well written and structured, and reward repeated listens as you spot little nuances that subtly improve the songs. Another great thing about this album is how different it is from their previous work. This album has a very different feel. It's much more positive than anything they've released previously. For example, a passage from one of the highlights of the album, Dreaming Light:
Life has new meaning
Feeling is being
And you shine inside
And love stills my mind
Like the sunrise
Dreaming light of the sunrise"
And yet, it is no less beautiful than anything they've released before. Anathema took a great risk with this album, and not only does it pay off for them, it also opens much more doors for their future progression.
More specifically, another fantastic thing they've done is the rearrangement of Angels Walk Among Us. The demo was very good, however, with the spoken word passage at the end, I felt that the song was longer than it needed to be. So what Anathema does here is cut the spoken word passage out of Angels Walk Among Us and give it its own track in Presence, and it's all the stronger for it, no longer feeling like an afterthought.
The addition of a new member also makes the band sound more inspired. Lee Douglas, who has worked with the band before, (check out Parisienne Moonlight and Don't Look Too Far on Judgement and the title track on A Natural Disaster) is now a full time member of Anathema. And it works so well. I personally don't believe tracks like "Everything", "Summernight Horizon" and the aforementioned "Angels Walk Among Us" would have even worked without her harmonies in the mix. Another good move.
I only have one very minor complaint about the album and that is, in casual listening, songs such as "Thin Air" and "Hindsight" tend to drag on for a little bit, but when taken in context with the rest of the album, they fit right in. Either way, these songs are best taken as one cohesive unit.
I know that this is going to be a rather divisive album in the Anathema fan community, but, this album is extremely necessary in the band's future progression. Comparing this to previous works is going to be very difficult, because there's a rather big difference. Nonetheless, they've done a fantastic job in creating a beautiful, flowing, emotional work that is surely going to be a classic in later years. We're Here Because We're Here is a wonderful album that you will probably be listening to constantly for weeks, maybe months, (I know that's going to be the case for me.) and it would do any open-minded metalhead good to listen to this album.
Angels Walk Among Us