This should be required listening for any music fan.
nurnberger | Oklahoma | 09/27/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This album really should not be as good as it is. Basically it is womwhat of a greatest hits album, except that the songs were rerecorded and in some cases rearranged. Most bands who attempt this don't produce anything memorable. Anathema, on the other hand, are such immense songwriters but didn't necessarily always put their work in the best light. The original recording of Angelica for instance, was poorly recorded at a time when Cavanagh really had not found his singing voice yet (he made a drastic improvement between "Eternity" and "Alternative 4"), here this gorgeaous song is finally done justice. This album works because the songs are all extraordinarily strong. They are not simply good, many of them could be called great, and I would only say this about very few songs that I like. Anathema's songs have a classic, timeless beauty to them. By picking some of their strongest works and recording them in a way that makes them flow together seamlessly, Anathema have produced what could possibly be considered their best album. I would highly receommend this to anyone, and if I had to introduce this band to someone this would definitely be the best starting point (unless that person is a doom metal fan of course)."
Anathema, fully realized.
Joshua K. Meyers | Elkton, MD United States | 09/17/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"To many pre-existing fans of this band like myself, the announcement of an acoustic reworking of previous material may not cause them to run out and buy it immediately; after all, what we're all waiting for is the highly anticipated new album that's been six years in the making. So, in hindsight (pun intended), I can see I (and perhaps some others) was foolish enough to pass this record up until I decided to listen to it today. What a mistake to let this one go til now.
This isn't a simple re-recording of previous material, but rather a more focused, well produced, and better performed rendition of some of Anathema's best songs. You could say its a best-of collection (which is fine because this band doesn't have one and certainly deserves one), but its more than that - the maturity and growth in all aspects of their craft Anathema has seen up to this point are utilized to recreate these songs to incredible effect. In short (if I may be so bold), this is the way these songs should be interpreted, because as great as these songs were originally, they're even more moving and thought provoking this time around.
As for how it was advertised as an acoustic album, after listening to it I can say that its not quite. There's use of synthesizers, some vocal effects, and a bit of studio magic that help the songs blossom to their full potential. But perhaps the greatest aspect of this record is not just its consistency, fluidity, and improved production, but the way some of the arrangements have been tweaked and improved upon to help the songs flow, impact, and translate better. Add to this fact that all the vocalists have increased their talents since the original recordings, and you have perhaps a masterpiece of mature and emotional audio cinema, an honest and well wrought expression of the human condition. The songs "Angelica" and "A Natural Disaster" are worth it for the price alone, not to mention the rest of these cuts.
This is the best reinterpretation of previous material I've heard from a band since Pain of Salvation's live acoustic "12:5" record (which is standard listening, as well) and is a mandatory musical experience for any music fan, including (and perhaps especially) Anathema fans. Again, don't overlook this record - you'll be missing something truly special.
D. Horn | 01/05/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I am really, really loving this album. It is a basically a look back, in "Hindsight," at Anathema's earlier classics. They have re-recorded some of their timeless classics in a semi-acoustic format but still maintained their recent atmospheric electronic sound. I love these old songs and their original arrangements, so right off the bat it would be hard for me to like the new versions, notwithstanding the fact, as an earlier reviewer stated, that the production on the earliest albums (Eternity, Alternative 4) wasn't the best. However, especially after a few listens, I absolutely love these versions. Most surprisingly, I love the new version of "One Last Goodbye" more than the original, which I never thought would happen because the original is so amazing.
The reason why I cannot give this album 5 stars is that while the recordings are great, I do highly dislike the synthesized sound they have used for the solos on Angelica, Inner Silence, and others. It is a high pitched synth sound that sounds like it is changing octaves continuously. I find this sound disconcerting and feel it doesn't do the strong melodies justice (though it does fit the electronic, atmospheric sound they have created). I feel using a violin (there are a lot of strings used on this album) or just an elecrtic guitar sound would have been more enjoyable. But this is just a highly personal taste, and I can look past this and still really enjoy the album. Unfortunately, it really keeps it from being 5 stars for me. Hopefully it is 5 stars for you!