Released: 2011, K-scope
Ah, Anathema. Part of the trinity of British doom, along with Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride, those days on Peaceville Records must seem like an era long gone for band and fan. Anathema’s brand of metal was always focused more on acoustic interludes than their label mates, so the shock of their transition away from distortion to almost exclusive acoustic mood pieces and progressive metal should not have provoked the reaction it had amongst fans. Despite the fact that many people jumped ship, an equally large number are still on board along with new fans, more attracted to the progressive melodies of the bands later years. Now, it is 2011 and the band has just released WE’RE HERE BECAUSE WE’RE HERE in the States, six years after their last real album, A NATURAL DISASTER. That is an incredibly long time away, and also of note, this is the first Metal Rules review of the band in 13 years.
I will not bother calling Anathema heavy in a traditional sense, but they remain dark, brooding, and dynamic on the new album. The band continues to progress, and the arrangements and emotion on this album separate Anathema from any would be imitators. Opening track “Thin Air”, hearkens back to the JUDGEMENT album, and along with “Summer Night Horizon” are the two heaviest tracks the band has done since JUDGEMENT, which still does not make them all that heavy. But they are damn catchy, brooding sounds capes of despair and hope intertwined. Album closer “Hindsight” is again another atmospheric and experimental track that puts Anathema even farther from their roots. The only real stinker, is the horrible misstep of “Angels Walk Among Us”, a nice title, but better suited to teenage girls lamenting the woes of their life than a metal head looking for some inspiration. Primary resemblances overall on the album would be Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree, while also bearing similarities to Wolverine. Keyboards and clean guitars rule the day, while disturbingly bass and drums are almost absent.
This absence brings me to the heart of this review. There are two ways to view this album; if you are still a fan, then this is some of their best work since JUDGEMENT. If you did not like anything after SERENADES well then you will almost certainly detest WE’RE HERE BECAUSE WE’RE HERE. In fact, many fans would not call this metal and they would have a legitimate point. Anathema is an enigma. They make music that is heavy dynamically, but not in a growling, crushing guitar way. Does that still make it metal? Maybe, but I guess it depends on your perspective and far be it from me to question that. I admit that I am baffled by my reactions to this album, and as you can see I have struggled to define it. On the right day, I could call it a four and on the wrong day it would be a two, depending on my mood. So I am going to go with something in between and give it a three. Fans of Wolverine, Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd, and Dream Theater’s ballads and acoustic songs will enjoy WE’RE HERE BECAUES WE’RE HERE.