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(10 Reviews)

Metal Album Reviews[RSS]

  • This reworking of many Anathema favorites is essential for any fan. Some may see a re-recording album it and think it is just filler for the record company to profit from, and to keep listeners attentive until the next album comes out, and with some other bands, that may sometimes be the case. Sometimes re-recording albums just make you want to go listen to the original. But not here: this is truly a treasure as much as other full albums.

    Several of these songs I really think are better than the original. “Alternative 4″ and “Eternity” were great albums, but the production quality wasn’t too good. So, instantaneously, these songs at least demand attention from your ears, weather or not you think they are better than the originals. I think at least “Angelica” is a no-brainer; as when it was originally recorded, Vincent was still learning how to sing. I also happen to think the rework of “Inner Silence” is gorgeous, and this interpretation of “Fragile Dreams” is excellent as well, although is missing that magical essence from the original.

    “One Last Goodbye” I am on the fence with. The original was so emotionally powerful, and had powerful vocals to match the feeling. In acoustic mode, containing violins and pianos, the strong vocals would be too much, as they are much more subdued. This just feels too empty, musically, to be effective, but that’s because I’m thinking of the original too much – perhaps I can get used to this.

    The song I think has improved the most is “Are you There?,” introducing a lovely, upbeat acoustic foundation instead of the terrible monotonous keyboards in the original. If I could, I’d go back in time and throw away the original and replace it with this, so I could have been listening to it for the past 5 years.

    “Flying” is much more elaborate and interesting than the original as well; the arrangement is much more layered and full sounding. It is also extended by a good 30 seconds with an addition to the buildup at the end even adding some tremolo playing with an Irish mandolin.

    “Temporary peace” is revisited under a new light by adding a violin; very nicely done.

    Unfortunately, “A Natural Disaster” sounds way too similar to the original; in fact, I can barely tell the difference.

    The new song at the end is decent; it has an interesting rhythm and makes use of violins, but is quite repetitive and extinguishes the freshness of itself rather quickly. Definitely not their strongest work but it is nice to have something new along with all the classics.

    So there we have it – a look back in hindsight on Anathema’s career. Let’s hope the next 18 years are just as good. Also, c’mon Anathema, release your next album already! I’ve been eagerly awaiting 6 years – it better be worth the wait!

    Posted on March 16, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • As a long time Anathema fan, I’ve enjoyed seeing them move further from their earlier thrash roots to a more moody, ambient style. This album takes several of the mellower songs from their albums and sees them done in a more acoustic setting. They chose very well in the pieces they selected for this mood and it makes for a great ambient album. One of the best things about their last several releases was the contrast of the ambient with the harder edged songs, so in the end it does make this feel like a bit of a “filler” album to tide us over until they release their next full on album… which is the reason this gets four stars from me instead of five.

    Posted on December 12, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • While there have been Anathema compilations in the past, they have been primarily focused on rarities or the band’s earlier death metal material. There has never been a “best of” collection for this too often overlooked band, and Hindsight really doesn’t qualify as one either. Instead, the band has rerecorded and rearranged several songs from their back catalog (one song from 1996’s Eternity, two from 1998’s Alternative 4, one from 1999’s Judgement, two from 2001’s A Fine Day to Exit, three from 2004’s A Natural Disaster, plus the all new song “Unchained (Tales of the Unexpected)” in a laid back, semi-acoustic style.

    It’s a shame none of the mainstream rock critics who go into throes of rapture with each new Radiohead release will ever listen to Anathema, because much of Anathema’s recent material, and especially the songs on Hindsight, would no doubt have the same effect. Already one of the most moving and intelligent bands around, Anathema’s songs seem even more compelling in this “stripped down” format. I found myself listening closely and paying more attention to every nuance and lyric, appreciating these songs in a whole new light. Additionally, the altered direction of these songs gives the album a sense of cohesion that almost no compilation album is ever able to achieve. It works as a whole just as well as it does a collection of individual songs.

    My only complaint, and it’s a minor one, is that none of the band’s earliest material is represented. Obviously the doomy, death metal of those earlier albums would be much harder to translate into Hindsight’s tranquil, semi-acoustic style, but it would probably be extremely interesting to hear. Also, while Hindsight is powerful, it doesn’t remotely rock. You really need to be in a relaxed, distraction free environment so these songs can really soak in.

    Hindsight is a must-have collection for any Anathema fan, but should also appeal to fans of Katatonia, Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, and interesting and intelligent music in general.

    Posted on December 12, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • To many pre-existing fans of this band like myself, the announcement of an acoustic reworking of previous material may not cause them to run out and buy it immediately; after all, what we’re all waiting for is the highly anticipated new album that’s been six years in the making. So, in hindsight (pun intended), I can see I (and perhaps some others) was foolish enough to pass this record up until I decided to listen to it today. What a mistake to let this one go til now.

    This isn’t a simple re-recording of previous material, but rather a more focused, well produced, and better performed rendition of some of Anathema’s best songs. You could say its a best-of collection (which is fine because this band doesn’t have one and certainly deserves one), but its more than that – the maturity and growth in all aspects of their craft Anathema has seen up to this point are utilized to recreate these songs to incredible effect. In short (if I may be so bold), this is the way these songs should be interpreted, because as great as these songs were originally, they’re even more moving and thought provoking this time around.

    As for how it was advertised as an acoustic album, after listening to it I can say that its not quite. There’s use of synthesizers, some vocal effects, and a bit of studio magic that help the songs blossom to their full potential. But perhaps the greatest aspect of this record is not just its consistency, fluidity, and improved production, but the way some of the arrangements have been tweaked and improved upon to help the songs flow, impact, and translate better. Add to this fact that all the vocalists have increased their talents since the original recordings, and you have perhaps a masterpiece of mature and emotional audio cinema, an honest and well wrought expression of the human condition. The songs “Angelica” and “A Natural Disaster” are worth it for the price alone, not to mention the rest of these cuts.

    This is the best reinterpretation of previous material I’ve heard from a band since Pain of Salvation’s live acoustic “12:5″ record (which is standard listening, as well) and is a mandatory musical experience for any music fan, including (and perhaps especially) Anathema fans. Again, don’t overlook this record – you’ll be missing something truly special.

    JKM 9/2009

    Posted on December 12, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • I am really, really loving this album. It is a basically a look back, in “Hindsight,” at Anathema’s earlier classics. They have re-recorded some of their timeless classics in a semi-acoustic format but still maintained their recent atmospheric electronic sound. I love these old songs and their original arrangements, so right off the bat it would be hard for me to like the new versions, notwithstanding the fact, as an earlier reviewer stated, that the production on the earliest albums (Eternity, Alternative 4) wasn’t the best. However, especially after a few listens, I absolutely love these versions. Most surprisingly, I love the new version of “One Last Goodbye” more than the original, which I never thought would happen because the original is so amazing.

    The reason why I cannot give this album 5 stars is that while the recordings are great, I do highly dislike the synthesized sound they have used for the solos on Angelica, Inner Silence, and others. It is a high pitched synth sound that sounds like it is changing octaves continuously. I find this sound disconcerting and feel it doesn’t do the strong melodies justice (though it does fit the electronic, atmospheric sound they have created). I feel using a violin (there are a lot of strings used on this album) or just an elecrtic guitar sound would have been more enjoyable. But this is just a highly personal taste, and I can look past this and still really enjoy the album. Unfortunately, it really keeps it from being 5 stars for me. Hopefully it is 5 stars for you!

    Posted on December 12, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now