Monday, August 9, 2010

Anathema - We're Here Because We're Here

Any fan of Anathema will be quick to tell us what kind of themes that the band like to dwell on: despair, longing, tragedy, fallen romance, etc. etc.; and all of that pretty much dries up with this, Anathema’s eighth full-length. After gradually drifting away from their doom/ death origins in the mid-nineties, this English six-piece have been fairly steady in releasing material steeped heavily in a gloomy atmospheric rock that blends the real-life storytelling of Pink Floyd with a truly melancholic sense of melody that gives this type of music the sincerity it needs. As we are well-acquainted with the relatively unusual history of the band, we were most anxious to hear what they had to offer us this year…

The striking difference in this album is eminent: there is life blooming in every song. While we are typically accustomed to experiencing some dark tragedy that dominates the stage, and thus a deep inclination towards death, with We’re Here Because We’re Here we are faced with an immediate positivity which is at once hopeful and refreshing, and thus we experience a total affirmation of life. Metaphorically speaking, this music is like a rejuvenating ray of sunlight beaming through a crack in the cave of some tormented, forgotten hermit.

The most important part of this endeavour is, evidently, the vocal and lyrical aspect; it is the clearest passage through which this seminal message is conveyed. Vincent Cavanagh’s vocals are more ethereal than ever before; singing in a lucid, almost faint tone, his voice is furnished with an emotive conviction that provides the music with depth and authenticity. Lyrically, this band is exploring entirely new territory: we are no longer mourning the untimely loss of a loved one, and nor are we bemoaning the seeming vacuity of existence; instead, we are ripping off Burzum lyrics! Remember ‘suddenly, life has new meaning’? Anathema mimics it to perfection, but with a much different intention: while Burzum seems to derive meaning from unearthing some secret truth from beneath the soil, behind the darkness, Anathema is struck by a revelatory flash of light, where the meaning found is truly sudden. The rest of the album follows the same course: heavenward, entrusted with this new strength of faith and courage.

As important as the vocal and lyrical aspect in this album is, in this kind of band, it still does not really detract from the necessity of rhythm and melody. The rhythm section masters its role dutifully, leaving the guitar work to excel in the art of crafting the appropriate melodies, something which is even more important in a band that deems the demonstration of pathos as so critically essential. A key feature of this record is how the music slowly builds into a powerful atmosphere before pouring out into a perfectly indulgent climax; this is primarily achieved by perseverance in melody, where the guitar lines consistently follow the vocal lines toward that certain pitch that completes the movement and falls off into the next. Simply stated, the guitar work is successful in creating the right mood and impression which is precisely the equivalent of the lyrics: sunny, golden, and brimming with hope. 

The basis, the very core of We’re Here Because We’re Here is quite easy to define due to the simplicity of the lyrics and the corresponding lyrics; but what’s not so easy to define is how to place this album in the context of its predecessors. It could plainly be the fulfillment of the broken wanderer who, having endured the wild tragedies of reality, has at last returned to the sunlit estates of his father, but perhaps not. Whatever the context, it is patently clear that we have been made witness to an album that focuses not on the empty yearnings of the fallen and bitter mind, but on the spirited campaign of an embattled soul, a campaign that finally leads him to a land of peace, the land of his father. 

I've found my way to fly free from the constraints of time
I have soared through the sky, seen life far below in mind;
breathed in truth, love, serene, sailed on oceans of belief;

searched and found life inside, we're not just a moment in time...

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