December 16, 2015 Anathema – A Sort Of Homecoming (Album Review)
Rarely has many Rock bands lived through such an extreme metamorphosis like UK’s most acclaimed Avantgarde-Rock act Anathema. Founded in the mid ’90s as a Doom/Gothic/Death-Metal act, the band has spread their wings through the years, and without discounting their past, have become something more grand than one would ever imagine. Hailed by a nearly all genre comprehensive camp of fans nowadays, the Liverpool, England based melancholic rockers rode on their biggest wave of international success after releasing their tenth studio album, Distant Satellites, in 2014. In fact, the record climbing the UK charts up to position 32 and found them finally breaking big in the North American market.
Taking a look back in the band’s past, with the releases of 1998’s Alternative 4 and 1999’s Judgement, Anathema would changed their approach to a more Progressive and Alternative leaning direction. Since then, it has been a steady progression that has seen their core fanbase not turn away, but grow with them. Since 2014, the aforementioned Distant Satellites was promoted by touring the whole world as a full band and also with a stripped down acoustic show select dates. The inspiration to bring Anathema’s legislating to a new stage was an acoustic set at the Gloucester Cathedral in 2014 that lifted the band’s sound to an again more elitist setting comparing to the full band Rock performance. The experiment peaked in a UK Cathedral Acoustic-Tour in 2015 with the highlight of a sold out hometown show in the Liverpool Cathedral.
The Anathema acoustic-trio of Daniel Cavanagh (Guitar), Vincent Cavanagh (Vocals and Guitar), and female vocalist Lee Douglas lend the experience to participating fans now with releasing of a breathtaking live album of fifteen songs, called A Sort of Homecoming, released via Kscope as a two CD and DVD set on October 30th. The performance is leading through the history of the selected albums ranging from Distant Satellites, 2012’s Weather Systems, 2010’s We’re Here Because We’re Here, 2003’s Natural Disaster, and 1998’s Alternative 4. Accompanied by rhythm section of John Douglas and Jamie Cavanagh, alongside their very talented close friend David Wesling on cello; who also played on 2009’s Hindsight and 2006’s A Moment In Time, A Sort Of Homecoming stitches with simple, classic instrumentation and big emotions.
After having worked already with concert filmer Lasse Hoile – who also was responsible for visual releases of Steven Wilson, Katatonia, or Opeth – on Anathema’s 2012 Universal live-adventure, the Liverpool show was directed again by Hoile in a spectacular venerable garb. With that in mind, A Sort Of Homecoming is one of these albums that takes the listener through a one-hundred minutes lasting journey which seduces one to dream, calm down, and release all their troubles, but on the other hand, affects the listener with haunting, big emotional moments. Although, from the beginning, with “The Lost Song, Part 2” and “Untouchable Part 1 & 2,” one stirring hit and moment is hunting the next in scanty instrumentation with guitar, piano, and light classic strings.
On “Anathema,” the band is supported by the famous violinist Anna Phoebe, which let curdle the listeners blood in addition to Cavanagh’s and Douglas’ dual vocal performance. Regardless if it is “Ariel,” “Temporary Peace,” or “The Beginning and The End,“ every song raises to an unbelievable beauty in its extraordinary mood, and the listener feels as if having been present that night in Liverpool. In addition, “Internal Landscapes” leads far away with monotonous lethargy before it rises to captivating beauty that causes goosebumps. As the dreamscape begins to close with “A Natural Disaster,“ the mesmerizing melodies of “Fragile Dreams” ends it all with an outstanding reaction of the thrilled audience. It is after one listens or watches the live video they can feel an invisible, unbelievable sensation of happiness, knowing these musicians created something special for eternity.
With A Sort Of Homecoming, Anathema uncloak a self-built monument that screams for an accolade, which is hard to arrange in order, and, until today, was maybe only created likewise by Olympic gods like Pink Floyd. A Sort of Homecoming is genre-blowing, and for sure an album becoming an inherent part of music-history. This is art, an orchestration, and hopefully they will have chance to bring this setting to cathedrals worldwide. Dreams must be allowed, and records like this keep them alive. CrypticRock gives A Sort Of Homecoming 5 out of 5 stars.