We're Here Because We're Here

Written by: AP on 02/01/2011 15:44:04

The story of Anathema is ridden with disaster. Thinking about it, the name has always resounded in some context, felt relevant despite not being able to place it. For two decades Anathema has existed, unwittingly avoiding the big radar, and thus remaining a criminally overlooked, underrated and oblivious band no matter what genre they tried their hand at. From their death and doom metal beginnings through their mid-nineties gothic era to their current lofty progressive tendencies, Anathema caused ripples in the underground with every release, yet never broke the elusive curse that condemns them to being the eternal underdog.

Perhaps the fact that Paradise Lost reigned strong and commanded huge press attention when Anathema - then known as Pagan Angel - delved into doom, that My Dying Bride were the gothic darlings when Anathema probed its Victorian depths, that Porcupine Tree had a seemingly infinite reservoir of innovation when it came to progressive rock, meant that Anathema were to forever be forgotten - or rather, remembered only as the band that rang a bell. Perhaps it was precisely for this reason that Anathema decided to hole up for seven years, writing the defining album of their career. An album that, once and for all, would expose the prowess of these Liverpoolians, silence the lynch mob critics, and cement their status among the elite.

"We're Here Because We're Here" is the complete opus of not just seven years of meticulous perfection, but of two decades of neglected brilliance. It remembers the trudging despair of their elder work and the atmospheric darkness of their gothic days, but it is not a retrospective album. It continues to push the band in the direction of perceptual revelation, sounding like the dreamy imaginings of Pink Floyd afloat on an undercurrent of subtle, progressive melodies. That Anathema thus sounds a little bit more like Porcupine Tree is neither damaging nor surprising, given that the enigmatic Steven Wilson sits at the production helm on this one. The addition of Lee Douglas as the female counterpart to vocalist Vincent Cavanagh has also made its mark on the sound, with their shared harmonies often becoming the definitive highlights of the album.

But the true genius of "We're Here..." rests on the band's collective genius. With ten meandering, textured and intense arrangements, Anathema unleash a hurdle of emotion as beautiful as it is overwhelming. The accomplished songwriting - no doubt the result of passionate scrutiny over seven years - borders on flawless, with compositions full of suffocating sorrow and catharsis. Each song is exquisite, steeped in inspirational, uplifting, moving melodies, rhythms and lyrics - be it the gentle swathing of "Dreaming Light" or the soar of "A Simple Mistake" with its dramatic crescendo, here is the sound of a band with absolute command over their music. Despite the lengthy tracks, the experience is fully absorbing thanks to a constant sense of cohesion; the band never sway too far from their intended course.

With seven years to complete an album, you'd expect perfection from any band. And while perfection itself is an utopian concept, Anathema come pretty damn close, for there isn't a glitch in sight on "We're Here...". And yet, it still sounds like the work of a band who haven't reached their personal summit. It is this pending epiphany that will eventually launch Anathema into progressive superstardom, but while we wait, "We're Here..." provides excellent elevator music for the next (hopefully less than) seven years.

Download: Thin Air, Summernight Horizon, Get Off Get Out, A Simple Mistake
For the fans of: Katatonia, Khoma, Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree
Listen: Myspace

Release date 31.05.2010

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