Anathema - _A Fine Day to Exit_
(Music for Nations, 2001)
by: Pedro Azevedo (
_Judgement_ [CoC #41] was a superb album, another excellent release by this unique and immensely gifted band -- but still I felt their best was yet to come. Ever since Anathema had found their new path with _Eternity_, they had been gradually becoming more consistent, and always able to distill their emotion into the music they created. Gone were the days of _Serenades_ and _The Silent Enigma_, but this band was becoming something else, leaving in its wake a collection of remarkable albums. I therefore had a feeling _Judgement_'s successor would be their greatest achievement ever, perhaps even the culmination of all their potential; but sadly, I was wrong. This is again the product of a more mature band than before, something that has been apparent with each successive album they've made. But in spite of that, this time they have produced a comparatively bland effort, lacking the necessary intensity to accentuate the emotion and passion in Anathema's music. It isn't just a matter of sounding too soft, which it does; the distorted guitar sections also fail to stir much inside of me. Compared to the heartbreaking guitar work the Cavanaghs used to come up with, this is almost unbelievable. This time we either get mostly unremarkable acoustic guitars, or guitar work that tends to sound like the vaguely sloppy product of a simple rock band, failing to add anything truly significant to the vocal efforts. Vincent's vocals are again in great form -- had it been someone else singing and the album would have surely received a much lower rating from me --, but why all the excessively mellow, repetitive sing-along sections and all the annoying layering of backing vocals? Not to mention the lengthy, odd ending Anathema decided to slap on the album. Furthermore, knowing it had been Travis Smith to create that poor commercial excuse for an album cover was all the more distressing. Unfortunately, most of what lies inside is also a strangely watered-down version of what Anathema used to be -- not just in terms of "heaviness" and absence of "metal", but also because it lacks the intensity and depth that made the emotion in their music truly stand out in previous records. Make no mistake, however: there are still a handful of superb emotional moments in the album. Still, most of the time the tracks just flow by nicely, unremarkably and strangely unaffectingly for Anathema songs, due to the changes in the guitar work and, to a lesser extent, songwriting. Overall, they have done so much better in the past that I cannot seem to enjoy this album, because of all that I find missing from it. I wish they would have taken three or four tracks from _AFDtE_, made an EP with them, forgotten about the rest, and then written the real follow-up to _Judgement_. Vincent's vocals alone keep this album afloat, but in the end, _A Fine Day to Exit_ leaves me mostly indifferent compared to its predecessors -- just wondering whether Anathema will ever get back on track and fulfill their huge potential.
(article published 10/19/2001)
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