posted on 9/2008 By:
Amongst anyone who knows anything about funeral doom, Anathema is a well tread but polarizing name. They are in a select grouping of bands who at one point made somber, romantic, depressing, and heavily atmospheric doom with gothic and death metal overtones. You know the names; My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost, The Gathering, Katatonia etc. Strangely enough, none of these bands stuck with their intended sound and all of them departed for the pasteurs of atmospheric rock music (sans MDB who went down a more straight gothic and slightly industrial path) with varying degrees of success. Anathema, along with The Gathering and Katatonia, seemed to have made the least awkward transition to this sound and have made some truly epic and meaningful music while still encompassing their original gloomy aesthetic. While some disagree and miss the heaviness of the uber classic Serenades, I think the band have done well for themselves and continue to improve their songwriting quality with each release in their current rock capacity.
Hindsight seems to harken a new era for Anathema. Taking a seemingly random gamut of songs from Eternity up through their most recent opus, A Natural Disaster, and re-imagining the songs in a much more subtle and acoustic oriented setting. The results are surprisingly consistent and many of these redone songs seem more at home in this type of setting. Namely, the opener "Fragile Dreams" taken from the Alternative 4 album. The driving drums and soaring keyboards of the original are replaced by piano, acoustic guitar, stringed instruments and some more subtle drumming. Such is the case for many of the songs on here and there's nothing close to a misfire amongst any of these remakes.
Two of the most gut-wrenchingly beautiful songs on Hindsight, "One Last Goodbye" (Judgment) and "Temporary Peace" (A Fine Day to Exit) are two of the best songs on here and truly show the maturity this band has undertaken over the past 7 or 8 years. Of course, it's safe to say they're the best on each of their respective releases but the more candid atmosphere on Hindsight really does these songs even more justice than I could ever have imagined. Again, they're still fundamentally the same songs and are easily recognizable. However, it's the instrumentation, production, and overall maturity that really gives these songs a boost that, in truth, they really don't even need (not that I'm complaining). This could only be a testament to the great songwriting that this band has showcased since their inception. The last half of "Temporary Peace" is absolute classic stuff with some really great lyrics and Lee Douglas' (Anathema's long-standing female vocal contributor) typically scintillating vocal embellishments.
One other bonus to Hindsight is the inclusion of a new song called "Unchained (Tales of the Unexpected...)". It's not the most memorable track on here and isn't as melodic as most of the other material, yet it retains a potent Nick Drake quality which one can't help but admire. More than likely due to guitarist Daniel Canavagh's recent release of Drake covers. It's a quaint, and somewhat quirky track that may or may not be a preview for the upcoming and eagerly anticipated Horizons full length.
If you're a fan of anything this band has done since Eternity then you would be more than wise to add Hindsight to your collection as it is worth every single penny. Even to those unfamiliar with Anathema, Hindsight is a great introduction to the band's more recent efforts. I don't think they could have done any better with this release and it blew my expectations out of the water.
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