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Anathema: Hindsight

Hindsight is one of the most realized acoustic albums in any genre. As some fans, I, too, was slightly apprehensive when I first heard that Anathema was returning with a semi-acoustic disc where they were going to cover songs from their last set of albums. They had not released any new songs for nearly five years, so I was curious to see how they would reinterpret these songs. Unlike 2011's Falling Deeper, which is the sister album to this, focusing on the band's earlier work and offering songs that are faithfully covered, Hindsight finds Anathema re-working and even re-writing most of these songs to achieve something truly special. The band adds huge symphonic sections and new melodies to some pieces while also changing the song structures a bit. The only other band that experimented with such ideas successfully is Pain of Salvation on their amazing 12:5 album, where they incorporated jazzy passages laced with funk-based, knotty rhythm work and gorgeous piano lines into their craft. The Alternative 4 songs, "Fragile Dreams" and "Inner Silence," as well as "Angelica," the only song representing Eternity, are testament to the band's unmatched creativity, sonic expanse, and melodic songwriting. Even when stripped to the core, the songs stand on their own: their melodic aspect, subtly integrated harmonies, quietly swelling throbs of rhythmic anchoring, and excellent singing make Anathema the unique band they are. I've been listening to and closely following this band since Serenades, which is now considered a rawer sound experiment by most fans (some even claiming the instrumental ability of the band being not quite up to their current standards), and even then, over two decades ago, one can see their knack for creating timeless melodies, unlike hundreds of other doom-death bands from that era.

The Cavanagh brothers' most personal statement, "One Last Goodbye" perhaps surpasses the original version. The vocals are more emotive, hit deeper registers, and deliver the sorrowful narrative like never before. The piano theme is so poignant and heart-breaking and emotionally charging that I never miss the amazing guitar crescendo of the original, although I consider it one of their high points in their entire recording career. The songs on this disc are so well crafted that they mostly sound like newly written pieces borrowing the core elements of the original songs, so, while they sound new and fresh on one hand, there is also a great sense of continuity to them. Of course, tracks like "A Natural Disaster" and "Are You There?" are relatively more faithful renditions, but the textured, airy production and the band's new-found sound development lend them their own character. Also, Lee Douglas' singing has improved tenfold. The way her verses weave in and out of the songs is barely noticeable, yet she empties her soul and channels inner despair with much more conviction and intensity.

There is also a new song closing the album, "Unchained (Tales of the Unexpected)," which complements the rest of the songs. It consists of only a few chords, beautifully repeated and wrapped around a main melodic theme, and features Cavanagh's typical resigned singing. It's profound and emotionally arresting at the same time.

Hindsight is one of Anathema's greatest works to date. Unlike Falling Deeper, I actually consider it a full studio album, opening a new chapter for them. It was among the first discs Kscope released and hinted at a stylistic and musical change, which they would achieve on their future releases, most notably We're Here Because We're Here, though I personally consider Hindsight better overall.

(By the way, I really love the minimalistic cover art of this disc. I think it's a very fitting artwork for the music represented on this album.)

Track Listing
1. Fragile Dreams
2. Leave No Trace
3. Inner Silence
4. One Last Goodbye
5. Are You There?
6. Angelica
7. A Natural Disaster
8. Temporary Peace
9. Flying
10. Unchained (Tales of the Unexpected)

Added: July 2nd 2014
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 2594
Language: english

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