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Anathema split the sky - 75%

Zephirus, May 5th, 2012

My relationship with Anathema took a backseat after ‘A fine Day to Exit’, an album I rushed out to buy but ultimately never got into. They were progressing rapidly and I couldn’t accept it. ‘We’re here because we’re here’ then hit the shelves years later and I decided to give them the benefit of a doubt and parted with my money once again. Needless to say I was not disappointed. What a powerful album and record of 2010 for me.

So is Anathema ready to shock once again? Well, not really. There was hardly going to be any huge change in style. I’d say there is less rocking out on this one replaced by lots of synth, orchestration and fingerpicked guitar lines that drive the tracks. There is the odd spurt of distortion but I think they would have omitted it if they thought they could have got away with such a brash move. If you like crescendos you’re in for a treat as they feature in half of the tracks. Christer-Andre Cederberg picks up some bass guitar duties as well as producing the album. Nothing to complain about really, everything is polished and clear.

‘Untouchable part 1’ is a great opener with a fast acoustic arpeggio not unlike Fleetwood Macs ‘Big Love’ (by Danny Cavanagh’s own admission if you dig around on youtube). Vincent’s vocals are clear and powerful, I love the sentiment in his voice. Once the drums kick in and the build up is complete, things calm down and it flows to the next track seamlessly where piano takes over the theme. On ‘lightning song’ Lee Douglas takes the lead on vocals. She has brought a great dynamic to the band and I’ve always enjoyed the harmonies her and Vincent trade. She sounds better than ever with more confidence than on the earlier outings. ‘The storm before the Calm’ explores new territory with a kind of electro prog beat to begin with and later yet another climactic outburst with violins and strings. Not entirely convinced of this one, but it maybe goes with the territory with Anathema now signed to the Prog orientated label K-Scope.

Lyrically the band explores the light and dark aspects of being human. Our mortality. There is a fair amount of brooding going on, like a mid-life crisis on record, but ultimately you can be uplifted by the experience. They bring you on a journey through the dusk and into the light at the other side. Final track ‘Internal Landscapes’ follows a similar line to a track on ‘We’re here because we’re here’ with a narrative based song, this time about a near death experience. It tugs at the heartstrings and sums up Anathemas life affirming message they’ve been putting across for a while now.

In reality there is nothing dramatically new here in retaliation to 2010s masterpiece. It’s emotional, clean cut and friendlier than ever. Expect a natural progression and some great passionate moments that Anathema do so well.