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Anathema - 'Internal Landscapes 2008 - 2018' Album Review


1. Anathema

2. Untouchable Pt 1

3. Untouchable Pt 2

4. Thin Air

5. Ariel6:31

6. Can't Let Go

7. Dreaming Light

8. Are You There

9. J'ai fait une promesse

10. Leaving It Behind

11. Springfield

12. Distant Satellites

13. Internal Landscapes

Whenever I score anything, I shy away from giving it the very top marks or the very bottom marks. Maybe I’m a middle of the road sort of person, but I prefer to think that I’m saving myself for something special. What if I say that I’m ‘extremely satisfied’ with the customer service I received, only for the next customer service experience to not only solve my query extremely satisfyingly, but to throw in a free back rub? What if I reckon a movie is worth 0 stars, only for the next film I watch to be Nicholas Cage’s ‘Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance’? Maybe I’m afraid of commitment, but it seems to be a pretty big deal to say that something is the very tops, or the very pits. And so this has been reflected in my scoring hitherto, on 3 Songs And Out, I don’t want to commit myself, not until something spectacularly good, or something spectacularly bad, comes my way.

This compilation from Anathema, spanning their Kscope released output of the past decade is spectacular though. It’s incredible. Compilation albums tend to be a curious phenomenon, they’re either full of songs that you have already heard before on previous albums, or they serve as a potted history for the beginner. I fall into the latter camp, having never crossed paths with Anathema’s music beforehand, and I find myself wondering why on earth not? Maybe it’s the band’s Doom and Gothic Metal origins, genres which, whilst are not anathema to me (sorry, not sorry) it’s fair to say that they’re not my go-to scene.

The eponymous opener (from 2014’s ‘Distant Satellites’) to the compilation speaks of the futility of love lost; the time wasted and the pain suffered, but with the reminder that it can be glorious at the time. Glorious is probably the word that sprung to mind most when listening to this whole record, over and over, the glorious strings, the atmospheric piano repetitions, and the crescendos. The crescendos. It’s the sort of dynamic which evokes a tingle in the spine at first, then the fists clench, then the whole face screws up, then the eyes close and the whole body tenses, before being released in one glorious moment which lasts for as long as you’re living in that moment, drenched in emotion and singing along as loud as you can. I know that it’s made my morning commute a lot more emotionally draining (and probably more death defying) than it previously was.

The band have curated this compilation which may explain why it all fits together so seamlessly, with the possible exception of ‘Leaving It Behind’ (from 2017’s ‘The Optimist’) which, while a great track, does seem to stick out a little bit. It’s almost Indie in its Psychedelia, and completely removed from the atmosphere created on the rest of the record but, who cares? It’s still great.

I couldn’t quite put my finger on what makes this record so perfect, the stirring yet haunting vocals of Lee Douglas and Vincent Kavanagh certainly don’t hurt, but it’s the whole package that I find so alluring, so moving, so mind fuckingly beautiful. If you already know Anathema, I’m sure you know what I mean, if you don’t then you really need to get onto this - you can thank me later.

Review - Jon Stokes

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