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Music / Anathema

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Anathema is an English band who, along with Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride, rounded out the "Peaceville Three" and served as Trope Makers for both Death/Doom and Gothic Metal. Their later stuff moved away from both genres and towards a form of atmospheric rock, with influences from Goth Rock and Progressive Rock.

They formed in 1990 as Pagan Angel, releasing the demo An Iliad of Woes before changing to the current band name. In 1995, vocalist Darren White left the band; rather than find a replacement vocalist, the band appointed guitarist Vincent Cavanagh as vocalist, eventually leading to the Genre Shift.

They are currently on hiatus due to difficulties with the COVID-19 Pandemic in 2020. They were supposed to release their next album that year, but it will most likely not see the light of day unless the band is reuinted at some point.

In 2021, Daniel Cavanagh announced a new project entitled Weather Systems, with the intention for it to be a continuation of Anathema’s sound. It was announced as a solo project with the potential for expansion, and sure enough, John Douglas later joined the project. Details of the album are forthcoming.

Current lineup:

  • Vincent Cavanagh (lead vocals, guitar)
  • Daniel Cavanagh (guitar, vocals, keyboards)
  • Daniel Cardoso (keyboards, drums)
  • Jamie Cavanagh (bass)
  • John Douglas (drums, percussion, keyboards)
  • Lee Douglas (backing and lead vocals)

Former members:

  • Darren White (vocals)
  • Duncan Patterson (bass, keyboards)
  • Shaun Taylor-Steels (drums)
  • Martin Powell (keyboards, violin)
  • Dave Pybus (bass)
  • Les Smith (Keyboards)

Studio albums:

  • Serenades (1993)
  • The Silent Enigma (1995)
  • Eternity (1996)
  • Alternative 4 (1998)
  • Judgement (1999)
  • A Fine Day to Exit (2001)
  • A Natural Disaster (2003)
  • We're Here Because We're Here (2010)
  • Weather Systems (2012)
  • Distant Satellites (2014)
  • The Optimist (2017)

Anathema provides the following trope examples:

  • Album Intro Track:
    • "A Fine Day" on A Fine Day to Exit. The track wasn't included on the original version of the album, and eventually appeared on the reordered version in 2015.
    • "32.63N 117.14W" on The Optimist. The title is the coordinates for San Diego's Silver Strand beach, where the man from A Fine Day to Exit attempted to take his own life (as shown on the cover of that album).
  • Alternative Metal: The band played this sound from Eternity to Judgement. With A Fine Day to Exit, they dropped the metal elements altogether and became straight Alternative Rock.
  • Ascended Extra: Lee Douglas's first album appearances (Judgement, 1999; A Fine Day to Exit, 2001 and A Natural Disaster, 2003) were as a guest performer. In 2010, she recorded her first album (We're Here Because We're Here) as an official band member.
    • Keyboardist Daniel Cardoso was a touring musician from 2011 until 2012, when he was made a permanent band member. He has since been Anathema's main drummer in concert performances, while original drummer John Douglas plays percussion.
  • Baby Planet: On the cover of Weather Systems.
  • Band of Relatives: As well as the three Cavanagh brothers, there's also brother and sister John and Lee Douglas. This makes Daniel Cardoso the only member of the band who isn't related to one of the others.
  • Concept Album: A Fine Day to Exit is a mild case due to the concept hardly being noticeable if you don't know of it in the first place. More obvious with its late Sequel The Optimist. Although for the broader explanation is that A Fine Day to Exit focuses on a man pushed to the brink of suicidal depression and decides to take his life by the end of it...until you see the sequel album The Optimist where he instead chooses against ending his life and opts to take the journey back home, as the title suggests, on a much optimistic look on life.
  • Continuity Nod: A two-second snippet of "Pressure" can be heard in the audio montage at the end of "Can't Let Go".
  • Death Metal / Doom Metal: Early material.
  • Dumb and Drummer: Averted. John Douglas has written or co-written quite a few songs, and Daniel Cardoso is formally the band's keyboardist, while performing drums live.
  • Epic Rocking: A fair amount of their material, though they don't abuse this trope as much as other doom or prog bands.
  • Genre Shift: Death/doom to atmospheric post-progressive rock.
  • Gothic Metal: Some of the band's early material (particularly Serenades) served as a large influence on the gothic metal genre.
  • Grief Song: "One Last Goodbye" was written after the Cavanaghs' mother died.
  • Lighter and Softer: Eternity and We're Here Because We're Here are much lighter than the albums that preceded them.
  • Live Album: Universal and A Sort of Homecoming.
  • Mood Whiplash: Between the depressed A Natural Disaster and the optimistic We're Here Because We're Here.
  • New Sound Album: Twice, at least. First, Eternity dropped the growling and moved towards a more alternative/atmospheric rock sound (though it still retained a lot of the doom metal alements of the earlier two albums). Judgement and especially A Fine Day To Exit are often seen as the turning point where the metal was largely dropped from their sound. We're Here Because We're Here introduced a bunch of New Prog influences, and represented a Lighter and Softer Tone Shift to a more optimistic sound for the band. Distant Satellites is darker than the two albums preceding it, but not as bleak as the pre-2010 material. It also substantially increases the electronic elements with the title track being closer to electronica than any kind of rock music.
  • Oop North: The band hails from Liverpool, as evidenced by their heavy accents.
  • Record Needle Scratch: "Judgement" abruptly ends with one.
  • Post-Rock: Some of their later material borders on this, particularly "Springfield" from The Optimist.
  • Precision F-Strike: There's a particularly effective one during the swelling climax of "The Storm Before the Calm".
    This beautiful feeling soars over the sky
    Moving through my body and my mind
    It rises up and floods my brain
    This is fucking insane!
    This is fucking insane!
  • Re-Cut: A Fine Day to Exit was given a reordered tracklist for the Fine Days box set, which Daniel Cavanagh considers an improvement over the original version. It also includes the previously unreleased intro track, "A Fine Day", and the song "Barriers" is retitled "Breaking Down the Barriers".
  • Shout-Out: A voice at very end of "Springfield" quotes True Detective.
    This town is like somebody's memory of a town, and the memory is fading.
  • Spoken Word in Music: "Presence", "Hindsight" and "Internal Landscapes" contain sampled speech.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: After the departure of original vocalist Darren White, rhythm guitarist Vincent Cavanagh became the band's permanent lead vocalist. Daniel Cavanagh has also been singing occasional lead vocals since 2003.
  • Unplugged Version: Hindsight and Falling Deeper feature quieter, acoustic guitar and piano driven arrangements of some of the band's older songs, as did the live video A Sort of Homecoming.
  • Uncommon Time: Frequently in each album since the release of We're Here Because We're Here and not unheard of before that.
  • Vocal Tag Team: While Vincent Cavanagh is the main lead vocalist, Lee Douglas and Daniel Cavanagh also pitch in. Some songs, such as "The Gathering of the Clouds", feature all three of them singing together.

And one day you'll feel me
A whisper upon the breeze ...