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Anathema - We're Here Because We're Here

Anathema, We're Here Because We're Here

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

TRIPPY album name, trippy concept. Anathema’s first album in seven years, provocatively entitled We’re Here Because We’re Here, could mean nothing, or could mean everything depending on how you look at it.

It could be the launchpad for some furious debate, or it could be written off as pretentious claptrap. And therein lies the key to its appeal!

By their own admission, the LP has been constructed to offer listeners the sound of music with real meaning.

Tracks are delivered with passion and intensity, and are only delivered in epic form. Sometimes they inspire awe, but they can also leave you feeling indifferent.

Yet, and crucially, there’s an addictive quality to most of what they do that really does reward patient listening and subsequent returns.

Anathema have been at the forefront of the UK rock/metal movement for many years.

They began their journey as pioneers of melodic heavy music, influencing a myriad of bands to follow them, before outgrowing all genres and limitations as they fearlessly explored new territory and new ways to express feeling through sound.

Formed in Liverpool in 1990, the band’s sound and musical vision has continually evolved over the ensuing years while always remaining true to the band’s original goal of creating forward-thinking, meaningful, passionate, and honest music.

With each release they moved beyond the boundaries of limited scenes and pigeon holes, creating a complex and emotive atmospheric sound.

Anathema consists of brothers Vincent, Daniel and Jamie Cavanagh, alongside childhood friends John Douglas and his sister Lee, who is an incredible singer in her own right. The line-up is completed by Les Smith, who brings much in the way of production expertise to the band.

We’re Here Because We’re Here comes with additional mixing work from Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree), who has described it as “definitely among the best albums I’ve ever had the pleasure to work on”.

The template is laid down early on with the epic, sweeping Thin Air, which wraps skyscraping guitar riffs around noble sentiments such as “all that I know is that I love you”. It’s a head-spinning entry.

But they continue to mesmerise sonically with Summernight Horizon dropping some swirling piano chords that really leave you excited and dizzy, coupled with a really kick-ass back-beat and a great mix of boy-girl vocals.

In contrast, meanwhile, Dreaming Light, strips things back to a sombre piano arrangement and a haunted set of fragile vocals that’s no less striking. It does get slowly more powerful but never gets too big and honours the intimacy of its origins.

The piano arrangements that mark those two tracks are in abundance throughout the LP, however, as is the striking mix of male-female vocals… Everything is heavy on both and exhibits ethereal tendencies, while a notable guitar riff accompanies the evocative imagery of Angels Walk Among Us.

Presence, meanwhile, underscores some profound spoken observations (“life is eternal”/“life is not the opposite of death, death is the opposite of birth”) with some minimalist organ sounds and guitar flourishes. It’s arguably the tipping point… the moment you embrace the big themes and run with them, or you switch off and write it off as pretentious.

Those that persist, though, will continually find reward. And while there’s nothing punchy, or breezily inspired to deliver that head-rush of happiness more synonymous with the mainstream, there are still some big moments to savour.

Universal builds from stark beginnings to really unfold on an epic scale, complete with euphoric vocals and some mighty guitar, string and piano arrangements, whileHindsight rounds things off with a track of fragile, shimmering beauty.

All in all, it’s great to have Anathema back.

Download picks: Thin Air, Summernight Horizon, Hindsight, Universal, Presence, Angels Walk Among Us

Track listing:

  1. Thin Air
  2. Summernight Horizon
  3. Dreaming Light
  4. Everything
  5. Angels Walk Among Us
  6. Presence
  7. A Simple Mistake
  8. Get Off Get Out
  9. Universal
  10. Hindsight