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.