It is beyond a mystery how after all this time Anathema can still be considered almost a hidden gem, especially considering their consistent ability to make mesmerising and heart wrenching music. Considering their output in recent years especially, the fact it hasn’t hit much wider audiences than it has is quite simply criminal. For those lucky worshippers however, latest effort Distant Satellites (KScope) feels no less magical and tear flowing.
Distant Satellites is noticeable stripped down in comparison to the likes of recent albums We’re Here Because We’re Here and Weather Systems, overall using more straightforward song structures, less complex layering and multiple uses of looping systems. The aforementioned loops have become a fundamental part of the bands live show (especially in their acoustic sets) and is a foundation for much of this album such as on ‘Dusk (Dark Is Descending).
Opening up similarly to Weather Systems with a two part song; ‘The Lost Song Part 1’ once again offers the more grandiose and powerful, Vincent Cavanagh led version followed by the piano driven second part where once again Lee Douglas’ sumptuous vocals take centre stage. By ‘Ariel’ Lee’s voice will have you weak at the knees before the contrasting interplay with Vincent and the final, softer notes courtesy of Danny.
The latter half of the album will be the elephant in the room for many people, where it takes a quite unexpected detour toward more electronic music based territory. ‘You’re Not Alone’ uses continued repeated vocal refrains with an electronic drumbeat. The title track is where these influences really come to fruition with a much more obvious drum and bass style underlying drum beat. It’s this latter half of the album that is far less immediate and will put many people off instantly and take a few listens with others to finally click. Far from being a huge curveball, however, it still holds their characteristic sentiment despite its repetitive nature.
One of our world’s most understated bands, despite the plaudits they get, Anathema have once again showcased their knack for penning both forward thinking and emotionally driven music which oozes real human character and sentimentality that anyone and everyone can connect to. Distant Satellites in parts is one of the band’s most difficult albums to fully grasp in recent years but is so rewarding once it does. Prepare to have your heart strings tugged.