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3.5 out of 5 stars11
3.5 out of 5 stars
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on 13 December 2000
This album must be understood in its context. Previously, Anathema had recorded Serenades, a mixture of "Lost Paradise" era Paradise Lost and Iron Maiden style of doom metal. This gained them much popular and critical acclaim. However, just before the recording of this, their second album, Darren White was removed as the singer and rhythm guitarist Vincent Cavanagh took the helm.
"The Silent Enigma" beautifully builds upon the basis that "Serenades" had previously formed. The songs have more depth and contrast and encorporate a very subtle keyboard approach that suggests a more mature style of song-writing. The production sounds very "full" and the bass is more prominant than ever, most likely because bassist Duncan Patterson wrote most of the music! As ever, the guitars are heavily distorted, the drums powerful and the tempo slow. Cavanagh offers similar vocals in the same "growly"/"moany" style of White although it must be said that Cavanagh also appears to have been much influenced by Celtic Frost's Thomas G. Warrior.
Opener "Restless Oblivion" is one of the strongest songs on offer, incorporating a sing-a- long chorus that is almost completely absent in most doom metal bands. "A Dying Wish" is a crowd favourite that slowly builds to a magnificent crescendo. As with Serenades, female vocals are prominant on the occasional track. This time it is the song "...Alone": a simple track with only female vocals, accoustic guitar and haunting keyboards.
The main gripe I have with this album is the vocals. They do tend to grate after a while and its such a shame because the music would work so well otherwise. All in all though, this is a fine album, slightly flawed, but well worth a look if doom metal rocks your boat.
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on 5 January 2015
Album covers are often a great way to gain an insight into a given album's content. The dark and grim picturesque on "The Silent Enigma" is a fairly good example of that. For a band so well known for they're experimental & intoxicating rock:- on more recent albums, it would come as a fairly big shock to some that this is in-fact the same band. Indeed, there is little doubt that this music is atmospheric/blackened doom metal of the more melodic kind. Occasional bursts of brutality from new frontman 'Vincent Cavanagh' and some quite shady guitarwork from his brother 'Daniel', remind us that clutches of extremity still remained within the band's sound.

But it's not all like this..., black, doom or straight death metal this is not. This a rather varient package, where dark transient atmospheres are key, and this means that luscious melodies play just as much of a role as the more heavy parts. In essence, this is a well balanced array of musicality. To gain a full appreciation of this disc, you will certainly need to be able to enjoy and appreciate a wide range range of musical themes that come under the rock and metal umbrella. To gain a certain cue of the diversity within, why not compare the opener of 'Restless Oblivion' and '...alone'?!.

Personally, I enjoy the latter period of Anathema a little more, as the fluid sensibilities on more recent albums show a much more accomplished interpretation. Still, this is well executed/raw music with genuine depth; and despite a few lapses in songwriting concentration, this is an excellent early album from the band that I still like to give a spin every now and then. *My 1CD digipak release contains 2 bonus songs, in-addition to the 9 available from the standard album. These tracks have the titles of 'The Silent Enigma Orchestral' & 'Sleepless 96'; both are relatively average and non-essential, but acceptable inclusions none-the-less.
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on 9 May 2013
First up, this is NOT the modern Anethema, this is the early death/doom pioneers incarnation, so be wary of buying this straight off if you only know their post A Natural Disaster stuff. Fans of My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost should check it out without fail.
However, this should not put you off - as The Silent Enigma is a classic album. Steeped in misery and gloom, the tracks slowly playout with growls and wails accompanying the slow crunch of low guitars. That's not to say there isn't melody though, quite the opposite the entire album has strings, keyboards and other touches in the background, along with frequent accoustic guitars intros. Simply put the band never descend into heaviness for the sake of being heavy. And you can see the elements that they would combine to become the band they are today.
Something the band have never lost is their way of creating sorrowful, melancholic sounds. The lyrics are not happy, without constant themes of loneliness and death.
The package is quite a nice one too, being the 2003 digipack remaster. The carboard sleeve is solid enough that it won't instantly fall apart (although the edges may fray a bit). Also included are 2 extra tracks, a beautiful orchestral performance of the title track and and re-recorded version of the Sisters of Mercy-esque Sleepless, from their (rough but decent) debut album Serenades.

A great album, taking the heavy death/doom from their debut and adding in many more melodic and arty flourishes. Fans of metal should check it out for its influence on modern doom bands, while fans of the prog Anathema should check it out to see the evolution of one of Britians best bands
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on 31 March 2009
Its amazing to think that the Anathema of today created this essentially death/doom metal full-length considering the musical road they have gone down in recent years, notably leaning more and more towards the atmospheric rock side of the spectrum. I'm not a fan of the Liverpool based band's latter works, or its previous full-length to this one, however i do quite enjoy this in parts. For me, this full-length, entitled 'The Silent Enigma' was a huge sign of potential when i first heard it a number of years ago. In part, this is brilliant. But on the other hand it also contains a lot of mediocrity. To be honest, overall i found this album to be highly disappointing. There are far too many nothing tracks for my liking but, on the other hand, some magnificent ones too.

Before the release of 'The Silent Enigma' the band were going through troubling times, as it has been well documented with the departure of the lead vocalist Daren White. His duties were filled by one of Anathema's then current guitarists, Vincent Cavanagh. This gave an extra dimension to the performance of Anathema with his unearthly screams and anti-exuberant whispers of desolation and torment. Vincent brought a more emotionally driven and intense sound to the band, which suited the music far better, at times depicting the grief Anathema This record contains four notable highlights; Restless Oblivion', 'Sunset of the Age', 'A Dying Wish' and 'Shroud of Forest'. All are emotionally draining, relentless in there approach and create a sonic wave of grief and sadness. With the use of acoustics and punchy rhythmic sections, Anathema play side-by-side with the painfully driven vocals from Vincent, creating a barrage of emotive sound up there with anything any death/doom metal band has produced in the past and present. The music has the ability to wrap its arms around you and slowly lead you into the abyss. I feel the lyrics to 'Shroud of Forest' are particularly useful in helping this process along:

'Help me to escape from this existence
I yearn for an answer... can you help me?
I'm drowning in a sea of abused visions and shattered dreams
In somnolent illusion... I'm paralysed'

The music paralyses its listener and sweeps you away with its mournful riffs and haunting atmospheric nature. I thoroughly enjoy the way in which Anathema creates its soundscapes through the ensuing agony of the bands heart and soul. However, the band does contain some negative aspects. First, as previously stated, there are far too many nothing tracks which spoil the atmosphere of the album and generally don't tend to add anything worthwhile to the piece. Second, the backbone of the full-length, or the middle of it, is very weak. There is a sequence of these nothing tracks which may perhaps deter the listener from continuing. Which is a shame considering the powerful end this album has. And last, the music has the unfortunate ability which sees a lot of it merge together. Sometimes, in certain genres, this isn't a bad thing, but it is here.
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on 1 January 2013
I was initially excited when I received an email from Amazon alerting me to 'Anathema's New Album'. Excellent, I thought, although I hadn't heard of any imminent releases despite being on their mailing list. This, however, is NOT a new album. Instead, it is an album from their death metal era, all gloom and growly vocals. If you like their recent stuff (Weather Systems, We're Here Because We're Here etc) then you may be advised to give this one a swerve. If you want to investigate their back catalogue, Judgement is, to my mind, where it starts to get interesting and they lose the outright darkness in favour of more melody and a balance of light and dark.
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on 22 February 2013
This is an unexpected album. If you were looking for something towards Weather Systems then its not but it grows on you and you will end up enjoying it.

David Wilson
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on 23 July 2014
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on 18 December 2013
not as good as enigma I really thought they would be similar to enigma still I enjoyed their music. good cd
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on 27 March 2012
this was the first album after the line up change ,the vocals are are really compressed and combined with the 'moaning' style if you listen to it with earphones it sounds like hes trying to have phone sex with you.the lyrics are pretty poor too.
theres one good riff on the album in 'a dying wish ' which builds well in a 'mogwai ' type fashion. i suppose this was a transitional period for them, i never heard another record by them after this but by all accounts they ceased any pretence of being a metal band and went on to other things...
Their early work 'crestfallen' and 'serenades' remain fantastic listening though.
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on 7 April 2013
I dont like their old style very much and this recording sounds too much like their old material.i prefer stuff like were here because were here
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