Anathema - We're Here Because We're Here
Kscope
Atmospheric Rock
10 songs (1:00:26)
Release year: 2010
Anathema, Kscope
Reviewed by Goat
Album of the month

Anathema have struggled since leaving the Doom world behind, it’s easy to admit. They’ve arguably been the least successful (or even good) of the British Big Three, both Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride getting the attention and critical applause for their later albums, whilst Anathema have been desperately trying to find a label that would even consider releasing their material after the closure of Music For Nations in 2004. Thankfully for everyone, Kscope came along, and after the promising re-recorded songs of the 2008 collection Hindsight, the eighth full-length from Anathema is finally here, and it easily moves the band up into pole position above their two competitors for me, making me pencil in a re-examination of their back catalogue for future dates since I’m completely and utterly convinced that I’ve missed something. It’s that good.

First and foremost and above all, the sheer beauty of it is absolutely compelling. Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride may have that Gothic-tinged drama which we know and love, but Anathema make music for those aligned more towards Porcupine Tree than Pentagram, and do it damn, damn well. Steve Wilson lent his talents to the production of this album, and as a result everything sounds big, vibrant and lovely. In fact, you could mistake We’re Here... for a Porcupine Tree album if you close your eyes and squint a little – it’s closer to a pumped-up version of Steve Wilson’s solo album, however. And, of course, this is far too modern and involved for the ‘Pink Floyd clones!’ accusations to stand. The harder rocking elements are incorporated into the post-rock-y sound as a whole rather than being left to stand by themselves, and as a result songs are constructed as big, complex balls of joy with plenty of replay value.

Anathema have had plenty of time to practise their songwriting, and it shows – I’d go so far as to call certain tracks perfect. The first half of the album is absolutely flawless, opener Thin Air starting with gentle piano and evolving naturally towards an atmospheric burst of joy, the romantic theme of the lyrics coming through audibly in Vincent Cavanagh’s voice even as the guitars come in. There’s a naturally epic flow to it which makes for an almost cinematic feel, a grandiose build-up towards the end being completely irresistible. Following track Summernight Horizon starts similarly, but begins the build-up immediately, female vocalist Lee Douglas making her presence known and fitting in perfectly with Vincent’s voice in a track that reminded me of the sadly now defunct The Provenance. Dreaming Light is one of the lightest tracks on the album, voice and piano soon joined by orchestral arrangements in an absolutely beautiful song that will probably earn the band hate for sounding like Coldplay, although it’s more Sigur Rós as a whole.

The second half of the album mixes it up a little, starting with the slightly disappointing Presence, a shorter track taken up by a spoken word piece about death that’s really only emotionally affecting if your entire family’s just died in a car crash. Assuming they haven’t (and, er, commiserations if they have) you’ll probably find yourself skipping over this track on later listens, although it does fit into the album’s natural flow and is seamlessly placed. The first of two eight-minuters follows, A Simple Mistake, fortunately not living up to its name as it sounds like something from Opeth’s Damnation, although some guitars do make their presence felt in the second half of the song, producing a wonderful Tool-with-orchestra effect. Universal and Hindsight (the second of the eight-minuters) finish the album, the former slow and heartfelt with some great Floyd-y soloing and prog-tinged string arrangements, the latter an even more proggy instrumental that closes the album wonderfully.

This album has become a kind of spiritual panacea for me, perfect for relaxing to after a long hard day at work as well as a complete and utter change of pace from whatever Death Metal harshness I’ve been straining my brain to otherwise. It’s the opposite of heavy, but never less than wonderful, an aural caress of your ears that avoids blandness due to the sheer emotional weight mixed in. The pastoral tinge of Angels Walk Among Us (with a subtle backing vocal guest spot from H.I.M.’s Ville Valo, of all people) the carefree Everything, the cyclical and Porcupine Tree-sque Get Off Get Out – it all adds up to an experience that is relentless in breaking down your cynicism and almost forces a blissful smile on your face. As sinister as that may sound, We’re Here Because We’re Here is anything but, a mature effort from a band who know exactly what they want and who achieve it, stunningly. Some saccharine-tinged lyrics aside, this is an absolutely perfect experience, and should be the first stop for anyone wanting something ‘nice’ to listen to without leaving the Metal sphere.

MySpace
Killing Songs :
Thin Air, Summernight Horizons, Dreaming Night, Angels Walk Among Us, A Simple Mistake, Universal
Goat quoted 91 / 100
Other albums by Anathema that we have reviewed:
Anathema - Judgement reviewed by Milan and quoted 90 / 100
Anathema - Weather Systems reviewed by Leah and quoted 90 / 100
Anathema - A Natural Disaster reviewed by Jack and quoted 65 / 100
Anathema - A Fine Day To Exit reviewed by Alex and quoted 52 / 100
Anathema - Resonance reviewed by Sin and quoted no quote
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