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!