Top critical review
5 people found this helpful
on 31 March 2009
There are many reasons as to why Anathema's `Eternity' record is important to the music industry, but is it any good? Having heard it several times now, I can shrug off the feeling of disappointment. In general, the reviews for this record on Metal Archives and other sites are relatively positive if not full of praise for this record. I, on the other hand, am resentful of it, in a way. Of course, it is the first major transformation of the band, but considering how talented these musicians are, `Eternity' seems to be one step too far, too soon. It is a case of trying to run before you can crawl. Disappointment is the main feeling I have whenever I hear `Eternity'. It's a lot more atmospherically driven than the older material, the death and doom crossover material. I find that strange, in a sense. Why? Because doom especially is known for its crushing atmospheres. It is a highly atmospheric genre that tends to sweep its audience up in one foul swoop and consume them with either A) Its beauty or B) Its heaviness. Whilst one could argue that there is still a doom influence on this record, the death influence is gone.
Considering I'm not the biggest fan of death metal, that's not a negative in any way, shape or form for me but I could understand someone feeling fairly upset at the lack of influence from the death metal genre. Anathema are now tagged atmospheric rock and that is a very apt description of their music. The metal has all but been drained from this band, which isn't a shame, but it means that this new look Anathema rely on a lot of new traits that some people might not like. For example, the band's vocals have drastically changed. With the more mellow sound coming to the foreground, with use of acoustics and such to bring it forward, the vocals needed to change. They still have that haunting feel from earlier works, but they're clean. Very clean. They're very emotive, which is wonderful. I was afraid, on the initial listen, that the vocals would upset the balance that Anathema had set themselves, but that isn't the case. Even the use of female vocals, which only occasionally come into play, are perfect beside this new approach. However, as I know all too well, good vocals don't make good music. The lyrics aren't particularly bad though as we can see:
"Been down so long
Too deep the water that I tread
Sometimes I feel myself going under
Sometimes I envy the dead
So take me far away."
`Eternity' does showcase similar sounding guitars that were used on the previous effort `'The Silent Enigma'. The guitars have that very spaced out feel to them. They continue to stand out amongst some very solid song writing. However, the problems is not the overall sound of the guitars because that's fine, it is the riffs themselves. Along with the bass, the riffs aren't particularly inspiring. One may even consider them boring in comparison to the old crushing sounds one has become accustomed to. Whilst they may be accessible due to the lesser sound than on previous efforts, they lack the edge that once made Anathema a very enjoyable outfit. Song structures don't seem to be as well polished as they once were. I do know for a fact that Anathema have sorted out their style, which is pleasing, but this is still a grey spot for me. Whilst songs like `Hope', minus the mildly tedious intro, are fantastic, there are far too many laboured songs. `Hope' is fantastic for its amazing bass lines that outshine every other aspect of the music, for once, but one song does not make a good album. There also seem to be too many filler tracks, which serve little purpose on this album. The main worry, when I initially heard this record, was that Anathema weren't capable of completely ridding themselves of the metal genre, and that they would be stuck in limbo, which is what this record seems to be.
Thankfully that isn't the case, but this record seems to suggest that, at one time or another, Anathema were unclear on the direct they wanted to take. Which is, of course, why `Eternity' sounds directionless on occasions. Whilst there is a good use of bass, at times, and the vocals are particularly pleasing, there are too many `nothing' aspects. The guitars are uninspired for large parts, the drums are lazy and lack invention and finally, the atmospheric styling that the instruments create can sometimes feel out of place, which hinders the progress of the music itself. Atmosphere is apparently high on the agenda of this band, but Anathema have made mistakes on where to focus their attentions. The mellow sound is only just being developed by Anathema and is not at its strongest, so I can understand why this may not be my favourite Anathema record as it is the beginnings of a very experimental era for the British act.