Anathema - _We're Here Because We're Here_
(Kscope, 2010)
by: Pedro Azevedo (9.5 out of 10)
Twenty years have passed since a demo by the name _An Illiad of Woes_ was recorded; eighteen winters since _The Crestfallen_ EP, and seventeen since a certain album titled _Serenades_. I still recall how shocking the changes seemed to be when _The Silent Enigma_ and especially _Eternity_ came out a couple of years later, in the mid-90s. At the time and in the context of Anathema's career, those changes were unusually radical in their shedding of the band's early doom/death skin, but they led to a sequence of classic albums that continued with _Alternative 4_ and _Judgement_. After the turn of the century, the overall less remarkable _A Fine Day to Exit_ and _A Natural Disaster_ veered further away from both doom and metal.

For anyone who has followed this band since their early years, _We're Here Because We're Here_ is likely to cause a similar feeling to the changes that took place in Anathema's career in the mid-90s. It seems relevant that the band has gone seven years without any truly new output, as _We're Here Because We're Here_ is a substantially different affair from past Anathema albums (the rather sublime _Hindsight_ did come out in 2008, but it wasn't really a collection of new songs). Nevertheless, a thread back to _Eternity_ can still be found; and indeed, the significance of these two albums in the band's discography may well end up looking quite similar if you take a step back.

Love, life and energy. Not quite the kind of keywords usually associated with Anathema. Yet looking back at _We're Here Because We're Here_, those are the words that come to my mind. This is not an attempt at some kind of philosophical or psychological analysis of their music or lyrics: the album actually opens with the line "love is free", soon has the singer proclaim that "I love you", and emphasises that "life is eternal" and that "everything is energy and energy is you and me". The last sentence spoken on the album says that "if you can love enough, you will be the happiest and most powerful person in the world". Enough examples yet? Rather than anecdotal evidence, these are recurring themes throughout the album, reflecting a kind of intellectual triumph of hope over despair. The people in Anathema seem to have reached a great measure of contentment and balance in this stage of their lives, and that shows in their music just like other circumstances and states of mind have shown before. Apparently they wanted to share that with their fans, and you know that? They happened to make a great album along the way.

For longtime Anathema fans, I am sorry to say that Vincent Cavanagh has changed his singing style enough to almost sound like someone else entirely for much of the album, and that the heartbreaking melodies that used to be at the core of Anathema's music have been, for the most part, greatly reduced. For longtime Anathema fans and everyone else too, I am pleased to say that despite all this, _We're Here Because We're Here_ is still one of the best and most affecting albums of recent years.

Apart from "Angels Walk Among Us", which not only has one of those characteristic Anathema melodies but also ends up strongly reminiscent of "Angelica" from _Eternity_, the album is generally a lot more straightforward in its songwriting and layering of elements. It may actually have required more effort to strip the songs down to this level, but ultimately the result is, for lack of a better word, more accessible. Even though that doesn't represent the entire album, on "Everything" I cannot help but think "Go away, Coldplay" at the same time as I'm thoroughly enjoying it. Its three superb predecessors "Thin Air", "Summernight Horizon" and "Dreaming Light" tend to be remarkably fast paced, with some nimble drumming right on the foreground, and an increased role by keyboardist Les Smith. Drummer John Douglas' sister Lee is also added to the band's line-up, and deservedly so, as her vocals are a fine addition to the music.

_We're Here Because We're Here_ clearly is the next step for Anathema, and different though it may be, it is not an illogical one. The only really off key track in my estimation is "Get Off, Get Out", especially when compared to the three exceptional tracks at the beginning. Half or more of this record is a 10 out of 10 album, simple as that. Well worth the wait.


(article published 8/12/2010)

8/12/2001 A Bromley Anathema: Inner Resonance
7/8/1998 P Azevedo Anathema: Delusions of Silence
11/27/2012 P Azevedo 7 Anathema - Weather Systems
9/17/2008 P Azevedo 9 Anathema - Hindsight
1/31/2005 P Azevedo 9 Anathema - Were You There?
1/30/2004 P Azevedo 8 Anathema - A Natural Disaster
7/3/2002 P Azevedo 9.5 / 9 My Dying Bride - For Darkest Eyes DVD
Anathema - A Vision of a Dying Embrace DVD
10/19/2001 P Azevedo 7.5 Anathema - A Fine Day to Exit
8/12/2001 P Azevedo 9 Anathema - Resonance
7/7/1999 P Azevedo 9 Anathema - Judgement
7/8/1998 P Azevedo 9 Anathema - Alternative 4
2/4/1997 P Azevedo 8 Anathema - Eternity
5/29/2009 P Azevedo Anathema / Oblique Rain / Leafblade Sunset of Age Is Still Far Away
1/14/2002 P Azevedo Anathema Their Special Friend Pinky
11/20/2000 P Azevedo Mayhem / Anathema / Hatesphere / Bronco Busters Judgement Night
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