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Anathema - Were You There? - 95%

Spamzer, December 5th, 2008

I admire Anathema a lot, since they along with My Dying Bride are the ones who have definitively built the doom metal scene by truly turning that apocalyptic sound, that despair and unbelievable grief into something beautiful.

But despite my admiration towards there guys, I must confess I had never heard before any of their releases, except for those prior to their Alternative Future EP

What made me turn my eyes and ears into this live album was in a first place the title, which to me sounded a bit like Pink Floyd's also live album Is There Anyboy Out There? so I decided to give it a try.

What I found here was one of the most impressive live albums, not only because it's completely NOT the Anathema I was used to listen to, but the fact the entire release is outside of the metal scene.

It surprised me how Anathema evolved so abruptly from death growls, distorted guitars and gloomy soundscapes, to play one of the most beautiful live performances I've had the chance to listen to.

Most live albums and DVD's I've listened to, start with an amazing intro, complex orchestrations, and/or lots of polyphonic soundscapes with lights and fireworks. Unfortunately sometimes this practice makes the rest of the album being less interesting than the intro itself. Well, fortunately this is not the case for this album.

Anathema surprised me with a very special introduction: Childhood Dreams. No cheap visual tricks distracting you, no ridiculous complexity. Just a plain simple, but beautiful melody. Charming and warm, preparing the listener for a great performance.

Eventually the concert will progress, and from the first song to the last one you can expect to be gradually more and more hypnotized, while music gently flows. Despite the fact being it an acoustic concert, there are a few distorted guitars here and there, but it helps a lot for a more progressive feel.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of all, was when the phillarmonic string quartet of Liverpool did their appearance on stage. It certainly chills the bones just to think a serious classical music string quartet would play on stage along with a legendary band.

This DVD might appeal to anyone interested in classic progressive rock and can be comparable, even superior to Staind's unplugged. Anyone interested in watching and listening to something way different comming from a once upon a time heavy band, should give it a try.