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insignificant signs and I wonder why - 65%

Gothic_Metalhead, July 21st, 2018
Written based on this version: 1994, CD, Futurist

I decided to purchase Anathema's debut album 'Serenades' with the extra tracks because of three reasons. I wanted to hear 'The Crestfallen EP', wanted to hear how 'Serenades' sounded beyond the selected songs I've only heard off the album, and it has a re-recording of the song 'All Faith is Lost' which is considered Anathema's most brutal songs. However, I will be reviewing 'Serenades' (which means I won't cover the extra tracks), the so-called essential album to death-doom metal. Timing was off for Anathema when they released 'Serenades', because a lot of influential death-doom albums were already released by then, like Paradise Lost 'Gothic', Winter 'Into Darkness', Disembowelment 'Transcendence into the Peripheral', and My Dying Bride even released they're debut album 'As The Flower Withers' and that too wasn't so significant. I will argue that a few songs off of 'Serenades' that were amazing, but 'Serenades' is my least favorite album by Anathema during they're metal years. The album isn't a total dumpster fest, but it doesn't show significance compared to the EPs that Anathema did with Darren White, but the album still has a few saving graces. However, I will be starting with the pros of 'Serenades'

The first pro is with my favorite tracks off of 'Serenades' which are 'Lovelorn Rhapsody', 'Sweet Tears', and 'Sleepless.' I find these three songs so catchy and heavy. It shows great unison with Vincent Cavanagh's Melancholic soft speaking and Darren White's harsh growling. In fact, Cavanagh's soft speaking is probably the best part of the album because it's dark and sad while the rhythm and music is still aggressive and heavy. It also has guitar sounds that were so atmospheric and dark that they would actually be defining songs of death-doom even if the rest of 'Serenades' is not above-average. It has less gothic elements compared to Anathema's EPs that made them a unique death-doom band at the time.

Another pro I liked about 'Serenades' is the lyrical content. While some songs had very short and simple lyrics and don't have much to go for, songs like 'Lovelorn Rhapsody', 'They (Will Always) Die', and 'Under a Veil (of Black Lace) has some very promising lyrics. I wouldn't say it's the best, but they're still good that it gives a more gothic touch lyrically then it did musically. From my three favorite songs on 'Serenades' they are simple, but have a good catchy lyrics as well with 'Sweet Tears' having a more simple gothic approach. It's one of the saving grace of 'Serenades' that make the album unique. Though some lyrics could have been done better...

"And I often sign
I often wonder why"

"Where shadows dance, and comrades fall
Where comrades' shadows dance and fall..."

Riveting.

All that being said, as far as the rest of 'Serenades' is concerned, I feel that Anathema has grown more tired with its death-doom sound before they even moved forward. A good example would be Darren White's growling. Once you hear the other songs off the album, I started to notice that Darren's growling sounds like its deteriorated once it hits to 'They (Will Always) Die', like his voice sounded scratchy. 'They (Will Always) Die' still gets a few points for incorporating gothic elements in the end. Although they had only released an EP and 'Serenades' at the time,'Serenades' doesn't really do anything new when it comes to the vocal approach.

Another problem I had with 'Serenades' is the rhythms and musical approach that is going on with the rest of the album beyond my favorite tracks. The guitar and rhythm direction it had for the rest of 'Serenades' felt stale that I kept thinking to myself "Are they going to do something different?" While 'They (Will Always) Die was the exception and a better guitar approach overall, the rest felt flat because it couldn't do anything different from the last track. Same guitar tone, same tempo, and same scratchy growling make the rest of the album feel like one thing instead of different other things. Also, what is the deal with the shorter songs? Though I can say that 'Scars of the Old Stream' sounds better than 'Where Shadows Dance' atmospheric wise, but its not unique. 'Scars of the Old Stream' cuts off suddenly without any build-up or more unique atmosphere and 'When Shadows Dance' sounds more like plain old metal music. The song sounds like regular 1980s metal music with growling without even making it sounding darker. Fading away instead of making it into an epic end to an album is another reason for 'Serenades' flawed work.

Lastly, What is the deal with the final track 'Dreaming: The Romance?' It almost sounds like Anathema was going for a dark ambient direction with this song. However, the song is over twenty-three minutes long, probably too long for an instrumental song. Now heres the problem, whenever an artist does an instrumental song especially if it's going for dark ambience, the only way it's going to sell it is if the song had a type of atmosphere that would either give off creepiness or sadness to the listener. It's also always better to make instrumental songs of these type shorter so that people who listen to the last track won't take out the CD during the beginning or middle of that song. I say that because instead of 'Dreaming: The Romance' sounding atmospheric, it just sounds boring. The length of the song also makes it very unbearable to listen to, but it could have been done a lot better if it was 75 percent shorter.

'Serenades' may have been one of the few death-doom albums released at the time, but it's disappointing when it comes to listening to the full album. The album is mainly saved by the three songs that I mentioned earlier, its lyrics, and somewhat gothic elements. Anathema are a unique death-doom band at the time for incorporating those gothic elements into death-doom, but in this album I feel like they didn't put a lot of effort in this album. However, that does not mean that its absolutely terrible. I would still give 'Serenades' a try if theirs anyone interested in the raw and slow sounds of death-doom just by checking out the songs that I mentioned as my favorite tracks. Anathema would ultimately work with Darren White until in 1995 when White departed from the band after releasing a more improved EP 'Pentecost III.' Anathema would make better music as Vincent Cavanagh takes over as vocalist and slowly, but surely move away from metal with each passing album. I would say that 'Serenades' is one of those albums where someone would say, "I'm staying for a couple beers, but I'm not staying for the whole party."

Favorite Tracks: 'Lovelorn Rhapsody', 'Sweet Tears', 'They (Will Always) Die', 'Sleepless'

Now a crumbling monument - 62%

gasmask_colostomy, September 19th, 2014

This is Anathema's earliest album and it belongs firmly in the doom death genre (it's very slow, with thick, droning guitars and death growls), which the band had left after about 1995. The album sounds quite primitive nowadays even for those used to modern doom metal, so if for those who care about that sort of thing, there is also a remastered edition knocking about that was released in 2013.

The progressive elements that Anathema would later expand were already showing up on songs like 'J'ai Fait Une Promesse' (acoustic, with sweet female vocals) and 'Sleepless', which tone down the metal and create more nuanced takes on the album's themes of lost love and unhappiness. This in fact leaves 'Serenades' unique in Anathema's history, if not in the genre as a whole, since there are few bands who have stuck with the death doom formula while incorporating rock and pop influences into the songs. This is countered by the crushing doom and mournful melodies that come from the big hitters 'Lovelorn Rhapsody' and 'Under a Veil', as well as more considered takes on the style like 'Sleep in Sanity', which has an almost jam-like quality because of the looseness of the structure and preponderance of leads. For this reason - coupled with the fact that 'Serenades' is one of the founding releases of the modern doom scene (especially in England) - the album has an important historical resonance.

However, the songwriting on this album is streets ahead of the performances. There are some attractive melody lines that are a far more conventional element of death doom, but this is the only instrument that really stands out on 'Serenades'. Admittedly, the drumming does catch the attention, but not in a good way. There is a slight tendency to sloppiness among all the instruments (not helped by the production), which is countered by the precision of many rhythmic breakdowns where the guitars "stutter" on a single palm-muted note and the drums imitate it exactly. This causes a very abrupt collision in the music and undermines the mood of the songs, which are mostly brooding, melancholic, and low-intensity. The suddenness of these interjections, along with other drawbacks like the rudimentary vocals and weak production, serve to make this album more influential and interesting than classic.

The eternal tear reciprocates - 95%

TowardsMorthond, July 3rd, 2012

My copy of this disc combines Anathema’s 1992 debut EP Crestfallen with their full-length debut, 1993’s Serenades, replacing the latter’s 23+ minute closing instrumental “Dreaming: The Romance” with a re-recorded version of “All Faith Is Lost” from the 1991 demo of the same name, and four tracks exclusive to Crestfallen (the fifth Crestfallen track, “They Die” appears here as part of Serenades), offering over seventy-four minutes of classic doom/death metal demonstrating first-rate musical skill, compositional vision, and atmospheric presence. Along with the early-1990s work of fellow British acts Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride, the music contained on this release is essential to the development of the doom/death metal style, with Anathema’s directly personal emotionalism, romantic naturalism, and sublime representation of the tragic condition of human existence expressed through a distinctly ponderous yearning for serenity.

"Shall life renew these bodies of a truth?
All death will he annul, all tears assuage?
Fill the void veins of life, again with youth
And wash with an immortal water..."

Through a fluid motion of rhythmic flexibility, the music exhibits a poetic sense of organic movement that provides these songs with a graceful cadence, flowing like beautiful dreams in deep slumber, paced in tempo ranging from slow-motion funeral marches to occasional bursts of rhythmic intensity. The drumming is propulsive, inventive, and impressively intuitive, and the sound of the kit benefits from the warm, earthy sound quality of the production. Riffs transition from slow and mournful in the establishment of thematic concept to turbulent in conceptual elaboration and reinforcement, always with a longing spirit of motion, but in patterns vast enough to conjure mystery and inspire reflection. The guitarists demonstrate skillful use of harmonic space in distorted feedback, and a perceptive talent for arranging riffs to portray funereal imagery in representative phrases. The songs are structured in a variety of gradual movements, passages interacting in sorrowful dialogue, some songs using the verse-chorus form only as a guide upon which to build small symphonies instead of traditional rock forms, while other tracks present a more abstract organization of movements which stimulate the imagination towards enchantment. Plaintive acoustic guitars, angelic female singing, and subtle ambient keyboards define two songs, while adorning certain sections of others to accentuate the gothic atmosphere with a wistful mood.

"We are scars of the old stream
Frailing away from the hills where we once lived..."

Perhaps there is no other song in the doom/death genre that has ever expressed the feeling of tragic sorrow as convincing and penetrating as "Under a Veil (of Black Lace)". The composition is outstanding. Anathema understands tension and release better than any band playing this kind of music. There's evidence in abundance for this, but one particular moment of the song that exemplifies this is how, following the second chorus, a brief, fragile acoustic guitar passage suspends the song's defining motion for just the right duration, before releasing into Darren White's grief-stricken cry..."I loved her....but now she's gone". The song's descent at this point into utter sorrow is just incredible. Again, the songwriting is masterful, but the musicians have the ability to bring the ideas to life in a powerful display. The guitars have an intense presence in the sound, while sorrowful lead guitar melodies harmonize with the slow, ponderous rhythmic motion. The drumming is tastefully physical and intuitive in its direction of rhythmic shifts and melodic transitions. The vocals are delivered in a sincere, anguished tone, with a complete emotional investment in the lyrics. Melody, atmosphere, rhythmic force, expressive potency, and compositional realization of the thematic substance unite in this song to create an experience that is striking both emotionally and aesthetically. A great proportion of this is just pure inspiration. Music like this, there is a magical quality about it that is felt immediately in the core of the listener who is attuned to its essence. The band just gets it. Even at such a young age, they were able to express a sorrow with so much passion and conviction, gifted with the imagination and artistic vision to actualize the concept with beauty and expressive power.

"Through tear stained eyes
My view is growing weaker
Please help my grief be vanquished
Thy bed of roses, funereal drapery
Impale me on your thorns"

What distinguishes Anathema from their stylistic contemporaries is the harmony established between the crushing yet fluid rhythms and the ethereal riffs, weeping melodies, and atmospheric guitar solos. The music evokes images of tranquil forests, and engages the listener's thoughts into the sanctuary of natural solitude, reflecting the pensive and poetic lyrical correlation between dreams and reality. These sentiments are genuinely expressed in utterly grief-stricken growls and agonizing moans lamenting the universal sorrow of tragic existence. However, it is ultimately the captivating quality of the band’s impeccable compositional skill that sets them apart, demonstrating remarkable understanding of how to establish and maintain dramatic suspense towards a gripping climactic resolution, enveloping the listener in heart-wrenching anticipation throughout, a defining quality that has been a fundamental feature of each of Anathema’s subsequent releases, no matter how stylistically divergent; yet the romantic sorrow and atmospheric imagery of this disc is portrayed with an elegiac poeticism that remains exclusive to this era of the band’s discography.

Why the fuck is this so criminally underrated? - 98%

Shadespawn, September 7th, 2011

For those of you who don't know who this band is, let's make a brief recaputilation: the genre or better strain of metal which is one of the most unique and interesting to understate it a little bit, is the hybrid between doom and death metal. You have a handful of bands that emerged in the late 80s and early 90s that pioneered this sort of experiment to various degrees of mixing the two genres. You have i.e. Asphyx, that are more on the death side than doom, or bands such as My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost who clearly take more influence from classic doom acts such as Black Sabbath or Pentagram. Anathema is also one of those doom/death hybrids, which took this approach and developed it quite nicely and brought some new fresh sound into the heavy metal subculture before evolving into a prog rock / avantgarde / whatever band. If you like the new stuff from Anathema, the old stuff will not necessarily be something for you. Let's take a look at 1993's Serenades, which is one of the leading albums in the
genre and sadly, there has never been another album that takes the cake when it comes to this sort of music.

Up to now many albums of this genre, such as the first two My Dying Bride albums are not ageing quite well with most of the fans, why? Maybe because a lot of this stuff is so inaccessible that most people will give them up to listen to Swallow the Sun's newest shite; at least that's the case with a lot of people I know who have an interest to this sort of thing. I have to admit, that it took me a little while and a lot of listens to really get into this album, Anathema's "Serenades", and it pains me because I didn't know how to appreciate their music here. The album starts out pretty rough with "Lovelorn Rhapsody", which is one of those not-so-good openers. It mainly has no climax and pretty such slugs itself throughout the 6:24 of its length. This is maybe one of the reasons why people would immediately put this album down once hearing the song. While being one of the weaker songs here, it still has a very heavy and pounding guitar tune to it, with synths or keyboards that are rather in the background, simply overshadowing the rest of the song's composition. The song itself progresses in a very slow manner (what a surprise) and simply induces a very romantic or dreamy-like state, a state of longing, a theme often used by Anathema, if you will. Its slow tempo stays through the whole thing and in my humble opinion, not the best opener, as stated before. The vocals on this track are simply a rugged and slow grunt, which only gets a little faster at the end, where we get a fluent transition from very slow to mid tempo and some riffs that resemble a faint death metal offering. Sweet Tears, the immediate follow-up, is a wholly different approach to music than it's predecessor; the early-Black Sabbath influence on song structure and riffs is clearly audible, with very dark and melodic parts and epic and exalted sounding bridges, only you get a fuller guitar sound and gloomier atmosphere in general, that is mostly induced by the horrifying grunts that Darren J.white. At the end of the song you get a similar approach like heard on Katatonia's "Dance of December Souls", which was recorded the same year; atmospheric keyboards and haunting clean vocals make it sound very dark and gloomy. So by now everybody's thinking: "Yeah, well this is the basic approach of this band and this is this album's artistic offering". By the time "J'ai fait Une Promesse" kicks in, everybody's stunned at to what extremes this album stretches out. This track is a very melancholic acoustic offering, with female vocals and French lyrics, no drums, no extreme sonic assault, nothing, just pure and great. Following this absolute stand-out, is the epic "They Will Always Die" that returns to the style of the first track, only with a proper climax and overall more direction and more focused. This is where the death metal magic happens, but much slower and with a lot of well placed pauses, that are filled with really dark and melodic overlayed guitar tracks that drag you through the rest of the song. The most accessible song here is with no doubt "Sleepless" that is also one of he band's big "hits". This song could of easily been on some alternative band's debut or wherever, since it features (again) a change of sound, yet still manages to sound intensely rough, yet you can clearly hear some of the later Anathema stuff overshadowing the debut in this one. Later they will go and water the song down with a fresh new recording, that is inferior in each and every way. The rest of the album offers no further "surprises" let's say, since the rest "Sleep in Sanity" or "Under a Veil (of Black Lace)" (the other two just being some interlude instrumental tracks) follow the doomy down-paced tradition of the other songs or demo songs.

If you're into war themed lyrics with a lot of grief and melancholy thrown in, this is the music for you. If you like slow, down tuned heavy riffs, with interesting and beautifully executed melodies and authentic harsh vocals then this is exactly what you need in your collection. It may get some getting used to, since this album is one of the few albums in metal history that has never been copied (at least not so well). I recommend getting it with the "Crestfallen" EP as a bonus, since that adds up to a very lengthy and magical experience. That sound too cheesy? I don't care, this album is amazing and often not recognized for the masterpiece that it truly is. Have a listen. Absorb this album. Do it.

Anathema - Serenades - 40%

ConorFynes, April 11th, 2011

Although the band Anathema has since gone down a much more atmospheric and melodic route with their music, it's important to note that the group began as one of the pioneers of death doom metal, a style of music similar in its melancholic feeling to what Anathema has done more recently, but much heavier and darker in the one it is executed. With a few demos and this debut 'Serenades', Anathema would be setting the groundwork for a style that has since become much more popular by the likes of bands like Swallow the Sun. Although 'Serenades' is a classic work for its development in that doom metal sound, it is an incredibly hit-or-miss ordeal throughout, and may be better appreciated for its place in history than as a listening experience of its own.

Fronted by growler Darren White, the sound of Anathema at this time is generally very heavy, downtempo and foreboding, using equal mesaures of the doom metal style innovated by Black Sabbath, and the newer death metal sound to create something that is dark, solemn and full of sadness. The album unfortunately however falls into a weak standing for its lack of cohesion and flow as an album; although Anathema is making some great steps forward with music here, they fail to create a piece of work that is bound together tightly. Instead, what we have here is a collection of tracks that range from excellence to somewhat boring exercises in distorted heaviness. The album's opener 'Lovelorn Rhapsody' has since become a classic song for death doom; a piece of music that cycles through darkness and beauty very powerfully. The real hit here however is 'Sleepless', a much more melodic and concise track than most on 'Serenades', featuring a post-punk mentalitty that wouldn't feel out of place on a Cure album. Besides that, the songs here so consistent, although moments arise where the more melodic beauty overpowers the raw heaviness. 'They Die' features a symphonic end that is a really nice breath of fresh air for the sound, and 'Under A Veil' has some beautiful guitar harmonies to work with.

Another issue is the weak production of the album here, which at times works quite well, but the heavier sections generally suffer as a result . Darren White's vocals are also quite inconsistent as a vocalist; at times his voice can make some really great growls that only add to the vibe of the music, and at others sound like nothing more than an adolescent whisper.

A disappointing album considering its great importance to the development of doom metal as it is heard today, but it is not without a few gems.

Classic Doom Metal - 70%

WilliamAcerfeltd, May 14th, 2009

This album along with Katatonia's Dance of December Souls are arguably the 2 most genre defining albums in the modern doom scene. Although I much prefer Katatonia's debut over Anathema's debut, I still think this is a pretty solid debut.

This starts someone holding down 1 note on the synthesiser, which didn't give me a good first impression. Then the main song Lovelorn Rhapsody comes in. All in all, it's a decent song but not great. The next song Sweet Tears is much better. Anyway, my point is, that the songs on this album range from quite average to pretty good efforts. The metal songs on this album have that real doomy sound which typified early doom releases such as this album, The Silent Enigma and Dance of December Souls. A problem I have with this album is there are too many easy listening songs, even though I liked the song J'ai Fait Une Promesse. Put simply, it wouldn't be a problem if there had only been one, but there are several. Dreaming: The Romance is by far the worst song on this album and the longest. I don't know what the fuck this is, or what the band was thinking when they included it on the album but it's a overly long song with a dreamy, cold feeling; horribly boring.

Vocally, Darren White is a decent vocalist but I think Vincent Cavanagh is much better. The songs seem to revolve around lost love which is not my favourite lyrical topic. Simply reading them would lead you into believing this album has a real melancholic atmosphere. However, these songs were not sung (growled) with a lot of emotion which would have helped create the desired atmosphere. The female vocals on this are pretty nice, they're sung by Ruth...(I think) she's the woman on the cover of The Crestfallen.

Despite being a flawed album, it is inarguably a classic in the genre and probably a defining album in modern doom. Although I think their next album was better (and was also a classic) I think it was much better mainly because of Vincent Cavanagh taking over vocal duties and also the band maturing. For all those who love doom, I would strongly recommend it.

Conclusion: The above is recommended for download or purchase.

Good but falls short of EP - 79%

grimdoom, March 27th, 2009

Following the ideas expressed on the near ground breaking 'Crestfallen' EP, Anathema further their sound on 'Serenades'. Anathema is easily the archetype (at least in their formative years) to Doomdeath as was In Flames to Melodic Death Metal. The proverbial "If Iron Maiden were a _____ band" statement slots nicely here. While obviously not the first of the Peaceville three to play said style, they were, without a doubt, the slowest and heaviest of the lot.

The production is perhaps the best of the three. The guitars are heavy and let you know this at every turn. They are easily more on the Doom side only sometimes exploding into Thrashy/semi-Death speeds. Unlike their contemporaries they always keep things a slow, to moderately slow pace. The guitars borrow heavily from Iron Maiden and Thin Lizzy's harmonized guitar tandems, but never copy or clone. The mixture of heavy to melodic is blended seamlessly. There are many leads and a solo thrown in as well. There is perhaps less palm muting than their peers but it severs the music well. The guitars often play different parts at the same time. A unique mixture of more 70's esq lead/rhythm rolls with their own signature spin on them.

The bass plods along w/ the guitars, not always following but more often then not being obscure. Not adding much to the over all vibe of the songs. The drums are pretty good, but incredibly minimalistic. Its easy to tell he wasn't sure what to play given the speed of the album, but he does a good job of keeping things interesting.

The vocals are a take or leave affair as Darren doesn't have the stamina to hold growls for very long. He does get the point across and does fit the music. The lyrics as stated above are poetic and beautiful, though they would get better with time. There is an acoustic track that has a young female singing on it (a carry over from the EP) as well as some light keyboard work.

This is a very heavy and very sincere album. Not their best by a long shot but very good all the same. The intense fusion of heaviness and melody makes this one interesting listen. If there are any complaints it would be that the album starts to stagnate about midway through (and the last track is a 20+ minute keyboard dirge of nothingness).

There is a subtle underlying groove to much of the material. There is also a mixture of toughness and melancholy, something that their peers have never had at the same time. The music doesn't come off as aggressive however.

This is a great starting point for those new to Doomdeath or those into the band. Certainly this will shock someone who has only heard the bands mid-period material forward.

And I often sigh... at unused potential. - 65%

Wez, April 15th, 2006

Anathema, another depressed English Doom/Death group, emerged with their debut album “Serenades” a little later than the other two of the big “three” of British Doom. Though while Paradise Lost had begun to swing their style more towards traditional doom with growls on their third release, filtering out most of the death metal elements, “Serenades” remains in that camp.

This is an album full of huge ideas and vision but fails to capture much of the feel they set out to achieve. “Lost Paradise” was a very dreary album, made up of a crushing Doom/Death cross that created a feeling of utter dread and despair, but this album wants to put a twist on that with a generally forlorn melodic side painted all over it. This works very well occasionally but oftentimes they don’t seem to be very good at this stage in fitting the melodic passages together with the abrasive slow riffs and still find space to squeeze some more traditional death metal riffs in there and make it sound whole and complete. You just get one bit after another. They have the right ideas certainly, but they leave them all over the place.

“Lovelorn Rhapsody” is a good example of this actually working, opening with the urgency of a few jagged chords, then progressing to a lengthy melodic passage, then finishing up churning through a Carcass-style riff that is very “Necroticism” in a running narrative style. They tend to build up their songs around a handful of these sorts of ideas which are padded out across 7-minutes and which they can mainly get away with because of the speed and the hypnotic nature of their downbeat dirge. Occasional acoustic breaks help to bring a bit of variety to the songs, but not as much as is often required. “Under a Veil (of Black Lace)” is the best example of this, where there is also something as simple as being memorable to its credit, whereas “Sleep in Sanity” seems to feel glaringly disjointed and an unimaginative rehash of earlier songs. “Sleepless” is a real curveball here, being a catchy almost single worthy track, which I’ve always been fond of, but more for the middle break and solo which unsurprisingly feel separate from the rest of the song.

What really cripples the album is the often strained growling employed by Darren White, whose delivery is rarely harsh or convincing enough. His weak clean voice is also used, sometimes in creaky spoken word and others in a light singing style, neither of which is particularly pleasant but serves its purpose to underscore the misery of the songs. Although mercifully absent on most versions, the 23 minute “Dreaming: The Romance” is included on this “complete” digipack edition, alongside two half baked but almost nicely “different” tracks from an old limited edition single. The looping ambience of “Dreaming…” is appropriate to the style and interesting to see them doing something like this, but it’s not something I can see anyone taking the time to actually listen to in full, unless you happen to be a musical masochist (or stoned).

This album is perfectly listenable most of the way through, but the overlying problem is always a huge feeling that it could have been much more. It always felt, and still does (even having had room to grow) feel remarkably underdone. Better luck next time.

Outstanding! - 90%

Diabolical_Vengeance, July 28th, 2004

The Haunting, melancholic, monolithic full length debut of Anathema begins with an eerie keyboard briefly before the full heaviness of this monster of a record crushes you immediately. Darren White first soothes with his whisper, then smothers you with his all-encompassing growl. Lovelorn Rhapsody sloths along very melancholicly with its memorable chorus (listen for the keyboards just below the surface). The only weakness of this track is the fast part at the end which sounds akward, almost out of place and somewhat lacking in spirit. Sweet Tears begins with a rather tradditional metal riff but that's where tradition ends. This track is made memorable with the haunting melody of the main riff and the eerie outro.

This sets the stage for the contrast piece J'ai Fait une Promesse. The song is a folky dirge with beautiful female vocals. The only problem with it is that Ruth has an english accent and I have a hard time understanding her (just a frenchman gripig, oh well!).

The fading outro sets the stage for ultimate dirge They (Will Always) Die. This song is so utterly depressing, it kills me (literally). Watch for the beautiful outro, with a haunting guitar melody and keyboards to boot. Next is the more commercial sounding Sleepless. Its a good song and fits in rather well with the album despite the fact it actually maintains a mid-paced speed throughtout. Although Its not the masterpiece its hyped to be.

Another heart stopping dirge is next with Sleep in Sanity. The guitar melodies are what carry this song and make it song
memorable. Darren's growls are as always perfect. A slight pyschedelic influence appears in the one minute Scars of the Oldstream (perhaps foreshadowing their newer material) it fits in well as a prologue for Under a Veil (Of Black Lace). This song is heartbreaking. I love the accoustic bit after the 2nd chorus. The album ends with the rather unremarkable instrumental Where Shadows Dance.

I must say that one of my favourite elements of this album are Darren White's lyrics which trascend typical metal lyrics into the realm of poetry. Some might say his voice is weak but I feel it fits the material well. Darren would be around until the Pentecost III EP and then he left (or got fired from) Anathema and continued onto less memorable projects.

Overall this is an essential album for anyone into Doom-Death. They may sound like third rate Radiohead ripoffs nowadays but back in the day, they were among the heaviest and most crushing of Doom-Death Metal acts. Anyone wishing to get into Doom-Death as well as the Peaceville "Big Three" of early 90s Doom owes it to themselves to get this album.

So incredibly slow... - 77%

langstondrive, December 15th, 2003

Well, I must first say that I am not the biggest doom metal fan there ever was, but I did find this album to be rather enjoyable. The songs are well written and each instrument plays a vital role in the performance of the music. The guitars are tuned absurdly low (just listen to the intro of Sweet Tears), and it suits the music very well. The bass will usually just play along with the guitar, but there are a few moments where a line will come out of nowhere, much like Black Sabbath's "Paranoid", and it is pleasing to hear. The drums are pretty damn slow, but the finess that they are played with adds a lot to the album. The downfall, however, is the vocals. A clean voice would have suited this album much better 90% of the time. The growling sounds forced and weak at times, especially when the instruments are not playing a heavy part.

The songs? Well they are very repeatitive, but in a good way (usually). "Under a veil (of black lace)" is my favourite song on here, and it is a perfect example of repeatition put to good use. "J'ai Fait Une Promesse" ("I have made a promise" for all the non-Frenchies) is rather shitty, with an acoustic section that doesn't really go anywhere. "Sweet Tears" and "Sleepless" are two very heavy, very groovy songs that are propelled by great riffs. The final song (on my version at least), "Dreaming: The Romance" is amazing. It is a slow, melodic, flowing, 21minute ambient song. It is great for the same reason that "Rundgang Um Die Tranzendentale Saule De Singularitat" by Burzum is great - they are meant to be heard while under the influence.

Overall, this is a pretty good album, but check out My Dying Bride first if you are new to doom.

Great debut - 77%

CrowTRobot, September 6th, 2003

Looking back, this album stands in direct contrast with the band's current sound. Darren White's vocals play a large part in this, but the music has a more epic feel to it as well. Over the course of this album, emphasis is put equally on instrumentation and atmosphere, which is an incredible combination when correctly executed. The guitars dirge along, almost as if trying to enact the emotion that the song's lyrics portray. In other words, I was surprised when I finally took the time to give this album a proper listen.

However, as I've said before, nothing is perfect. The longer songs tend to wander off, and even leave the listener behind. Especially on the 20+ minute "Dreaming - The Romance". Luckily, that song is missing on most versions of this album. Also, nothing actually reaches out and forces you to listen, which would have helped a great deal.

Highlights include "Lovelorn Rhapsody", "They (Will Always) Die" and "Sleepless". If you can seek this out, definitely buy it. Otherwise, checking out the band's later releases would be a good idea.