Anathema - _Alternative 4_
(Peaceville, 1998)
by: Pedro Azevedo (9 out of 10)
Every Anathema album so far had been somewhat unpredictable. This applies to the changes from _Serenades_ to the _Pentecost III_ EP, from this one to _The Silent Enigma_, and, even though not as much, from _TSE_ to _Eternity_. _Alternative 4_, however, is just about the kind of album I was expecting from Anathema these days, and it's no disappointment: still doom metal and still very emotional. _Alternative 4_ isn't instrumentally heavy, and that's hardly a surprise; it's about as heavy as _Eternity_, but often presenting less instrumentation and some more piano, acoustic guitars and even a little bit of violin. Tracks such as "Shroud of False", "Lost Control", "Inner Silence" and "Regret" are good examples, and are also perhaps the best ones on the album. The rest is very good too, though, with the exception of "Feel" (especially its chorus) and the very misplaced upbeat drum loop on "Empty". The new drummer, Shaun Steels (who formerly played for Solstice), performs very well. Traces of the kind of barely contained anger that thrives on _The Silent Enigma_ can be found on "Re-connect", and the whole album does seem less romantic than _Eternity_. Vincent Cavanagh's vocals are more confident than before, and show clear improvements, while the lyrics are, again, quite good, and the production is better than before. A very solid album by Anathema, which I personally like about as much as _Eternity_; anyone who likes that album will most likely enjoy this new one too.

(article published 8/7/1998)

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