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In this oh so bleak landscape.... - 90%

TowardsMorthond, January 17th, 2012

The aim of music as a communicative artform is to present its thematic content in such a way that its expression transcends the particularity of context-specific events in order to portray universally acknowledged and eternal truths of internal and external experience. Anathema are experts in this art; choosing not to avoid the individuality of subjective experience, but to transcend it towards the universal by going straight through it in a process of honest self-analysis, the music of Anathema offers a very real and penetrating experience that involves painful awareness and soul-searching reflection, complete with the paralyzing fear and dread essential to the success of any doom metal album, but beautifying the experience through abstract compositions of dramatic movements and fluid harmonic development in the classical tradition, with a fantastic talent for the arrangement of grippingly sorrowful melodies, and production values that supply a refreshing presence of warm, organic sound.

On Pentecost III, Anathema’s songcraft has become more epic in both duration and structure, featuring lengthy instrumental passages functioning like ambient soundscapes, the abstract nature of these songs providing a vast spatial quality which allows for the gradual establishment and sustainability of atmospheres ranging from tranquil to gothic, as well as more flexibility for the vocals which have evolved into a compromise between growling and moaning, still expressed with a lamenting spirit suitable for the somber imagery of the esoteric lyrics, with far less presence than on previous efforts, but the vocal phrases benefit from this more wide-open style of composition, propelled by a rhythm section of melodic bass-playing and a hard-hitting, physical, and dynamic drummer, whose playing, even during the slowest of movements but especially in more rhythmically urgent sections, remains thunderous and crashing, providing a foundational power in both sound and momentum. The guitar sound manages an intriguing balance in atmospheric sound with something peculiarly ethereal in the distorted feedback which envelopes the nostalgic riffs, interacting with the resounding energy of the rhythm section to produce a harmonious contrast between the serene and bombastic, clashing the dream-world with harsh reality in a unification of desire and purpose, transitionally flowing in arcane arrangements allowing yearning guitar melodies and solos to emerge like radiant sunlight through dark clouds.

"We do not need to climb a mountain
Or to cross unknown lands.....
....... Because we are Gods
And we will drown you
We will burn your homes"

The overall quality of the music’s design, execution, and impact reaches the pinnacle of doom metal, Anathema bringing to the genre a profundity of pure feeling the personal sincerity of which would be a challenge to find equaled in any kind of metal produced previously, simply because Anathema get deeper into themselves in order to discover universal truth, an inner exploration and analysis that is uncommon in this degree in metal of any style, and a seriousness towards their thematic content that is both humbling and transcendent, realizing its ultimate expressive potential in the mercilessly foreboding “Memento Mori”, a song of such Stygian proportions that its spirit could only have been conjured from the most terrifying of ancient times, the suspicion would be confirmed; the band’s compositional ability to stretch out expansive and beautiful melodies, and their artistic imagination towards the creation of captivating atmosphere, aided by soul-stirring guitar solos and delicate acoustic guitars contrasted with monumental rhythmic weight and dark, despondent riffs produces beautifully tragic and powerful music. Songs flow in seamless transition which gives the music a natural course of motion producing immersible atmosphere through a visionary structure of single compositions and the album as a whole, in turn creating music to be experienced rather than merely listened to.

Pentecost III is officially an EP, numbering five tracks (with a sixth hidden track) in a little over forty minutes, but its content is an essential piece of Anathema’s discography as it reveals important developments in each vital component of the band’s approach, which prepares the listener for the following effort, The Silent Enigma; but this work also carries importance for doom metal as a whole, because it not only manifests the essential elements of the genre, but delves deeper into those elements both aesthetically and thematically than perhaps any doom metal work that came before it. The work of guitarists Daniel and Vincent Cavanagh shines on this release, their unique usage of feedback for ambient affect, the talent for creating riffs that equally embody the spirit of dejection and hope, and the gorgeous, soulful lead playing make this band’s work one of the most compelling experiences of passionately expressive and moving music.