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Few bands have evolved as drastically as Anathema has over the course of their career. Originally pioneering the death/doom metal genre alongside fellow Englishmen Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride, they have since abandoned the style and gradually moved towards to a more alternative/progressive sound.
This particular album's release has been hyped by the bands and fans since 2007 and features the band's first album of new studio material since A Natural Disaster came out in 2003. The album is also the band's first to be produced and mixed by Steven Wilson, perhaps better known as the mastermind behind the great Porcupine Tree.
Like A Natural Disaster and A Fine Day To Exit before it, We're Here Because We're Here features a sound that is entirely removed from the oppressively dark goth metal of their past. But as expected by the band's history and choice of producer, the album's sound seems to have more in common with bands such as the previously mentioned Porcupine Tree and Pink Floyd.
There are some louder moments on tracks such as Thin Air and Summer Night Horizon, but a majority of the songs on this album build around spacey atmospheres and melancholic textures. The focus is mostly placed on the guitars and vocals, but there is strong piano playing to be found on many of the songs.
The band's individual performances are all solid though the vocals are what truly stand out in the end. In addition to the gentle croons of guitarist/vocalist Vincent Cavanagh and Lee Douglas, the album also features Ville Valo of H.I.M. fame guesting on Angels Walk Among Us and some neat spoken vocals on Presence.
Fortunately, Valo's performance is done with good taste and is largely devoid of the over dramatic aesthetics that come with his day job. It blends in very well with the other songs on the album and shows that the singer can be subtle whenever a situation calls for it.
While the songs on the album's second side do have a tendency to run together at times, it can be still said that the album itself showcases some pretty good songs and a decent amount of variety to boot. While there are no blatant hooks, Everything and Angels Walk Among Us are the most memorable songs on here due to their beautiful vocal performances.
Of course, there are several other songs worth noting. Thin Air and A Simple Mistake feature some cool swirling vocals and building atmospheres while Summer Night Horizon and Get Off, Get Out are driven by heavy rhythms and frantic themes. In addition, Presence is made memorable by its insightful spoken lyrics and Hindsight makes for a trippy instrumental.
Speaking of lyrics, the album is also made interesting thanks to its intriguing song themes. While previous albums and songs such as Anyone, Anywhere were driven by depression and often romantic longing, the themes on this album are much more positive in spite of the melancholic atmosphere.
Love is still an important theme on this release though it seems to feel more accomplished than before. The lyrics are also filled with encouragement and seem to speak directly to the listener, often stating to "think for yourself" and other such sentiments. Definitely an intriguing move for such a morose genre...
All in all, this is a fantastic album that should prove to be another one of 2010's top releases. Longtime fans of the band will not be disappointed while the pleasant songwriting will hopefully appeal to a legion of newer listeners.
Highly recommended for fans of alternative and progressive rock though open-minded metal fans should be able to latch onto this album with great enthusiasm. Definitely an album for a rainy day...
Thin Air, Summer Night Horizon, Everything, Angels Walk Among Us, and Get Off Get Out