Anathema – Distant Satellites
Release Date: June 7, 2014
There are certain bands that create music that can cut you up emotionally in ways you never dreamt of. And then there’s Anathema. Except they manage to break you down to the very last atom and more often than not leave you a shuddering wreck once they’re done. Right from their early doom/death years to the gut wrenching sweet sorrow of Judgement, A Natural Disaster, and their excursion into otherworldly dreamscapes with We’re Here Because We’re Here and Weather Systems, Anathema have been on a quest to transcend the confines of music as an art form.
Distant Satellites is Anathema’s tenth studio album. Honestly, We’re Here Because We’re Here and Weather Systems were indeed flawless, life affirming comebacks and gold-plated contenders for the albums of the year. Without doubt there just aren’t enough superlatives in the English language to express how significantly Distant Satellite’s touches the heart and soul of the listener. There is a clear reason why the Cavanagh brothers are regarded among the most gifted and respected composers. There is clear heart and emotion behind every note they play and that is exactly what separates them from the multitude of mindless bands out there. But it just has to be said that the trio of “The Lost Song Pt. 1”, “The Lost Song Pt. 2″ and “The Lost Song Pt 3” are arguably some of Anathema‘s finest ever moments and definitely some of the most stunning pieces of music I’ve ever been privy to. The more you listen to the album, the more you will appreciate the awesomeness in this album. It’s a culmination of everything they ever were, are, and ever will be, filtered through wonderful lyrics of Daniel and Vincent Cavanagh on vocals. One cannot help but appreciate the heart stopping melodies by Daniel on guitars, piano and other instruments.
While Anathema has built a reputation for releasing some of the most amazing progressive albums in existence, there seemed to be a noticeable slight departure from that particular ethos on Distant Satellites. Firstly, there are very few passages which are sung by Lee Douglas. I wish they would’ve given her a little more space to flourish. Her voice on previous Anathema albums are breathtaking. Secondly, Anathema seems to have used lot of electronic synths on this album as compared to what they have earlier. While the first half of the album is typical Anathema style, the second half is more oriented towards electronic music. Tracks like “You’re Not Alone”, “Take Shelter” and “Distant Satellites” explore the perfect combination of prog and electronic elements. Kudos to John Douglas for exploring these different elements. Initially, an average listener would surely find this approach too mature for their taste. But it thrives on the replay button, gaining ground as the listener explores the very boundaries of the aural odyssey that is Anathema. Your mileage may vary, but this is a sonic experience that was built to last.
Finally after a two decade long career, Anathema managed to write a self-titled song, “Anathema” on this album. It’s a beautiful piece of music which can easily be considered as an orchestral and musically intriguing experimental song that has an almost movie soundtrack like feel to it at times. Well in the end, this is how I would sum up this record: This album may not grab you in the same way that We’re Here Because We’re Here and Weather Systems did, but these well-crafted, captivating sounds that emerge here are a brilliant evolution of Anathema’s repertoire. With gorgeous harmonies, captivating melodies, surprising electronic elements and a stubborn, lingering sense of melancholy, this album will still have you feeling excited over Anathema regardless of what path they choose to follow. The orchestral ensemble in the songs builds up the ambient atmosphere and has a very appealing effect to its listeners. A must listen album.