Year of Release: 2010
Record Label: Kscope
Recommended for fans of: Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd, Mogwai.
- “Thin Air” – 5:59
- “Summernight Horizon” – 4:12
- “Dreaming Light” – 5:47
- “Everything” – 5:05
- “Angels Walk Among Us” – 5:17
- “Presence” – 2:58
- “A Simple Mistake” – 8:14
- “Get Off, Get Out” – 5:01
- “Universal” – 7:19
- “Hindsight” – 8:10
Ask any Anathema fan and they will tell you that this album has been a long time coming, the last time we saw a full studio album from them was 2003’s ‘A Natural Disaster’, admittedly the first ever Anathema album I got into. Sure we had ‘Hindsight’ in 2008 – a collection of acoustic arrangements of classic Anathema pieces, which proved an emotional soothing 50 minute ride, but we wanted something even fresher, we wanted something entirely new.
Well, what we have is a definite evolution of their sound; it’s hard to believe that these guys from Liverpool started off as one of the ‘Peaceville 3’ along with My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost creating the whole death/doom scene in the early 90’s.
It’s no secret I’m not a big fan of the first few Anathema albums entirely because of this reason, I’m glad Anathemas original vocalist Darren White left the band and let the Cavanagh brothers take the reins and steer the direction towards what could be best described as Atmospheric Post-Rock.
This is a good thing in my opinion!
So what’s changed since 2003 then?
‘We’re here because we’re here’ [WHBWH] builds upon the strong song writing seen in the last decade of the band, and I would go as far as saying it’s their strongest ‘cohesive’ effort so far. That and it’s been mixed by Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree. YES. HIM.
WHBWH opens up with ‘Thin Air’, arguably one of the standouts of the album, this song oozes atmosphere with its carefully layers guitars and echoey vocals. Vincent Cavanagh has never sounded so good! The lyrics make it plainly clear that this is a love song, ‘all that I know is that I love you, and all of the world is on fire, you’re just a whisper way’ albeit a carefully crafted and powerful one. The harmony vocals that kick in midway through the song are joined by some powerful drumming and the build up that is created is pure bliss!
Without giving you anytime to breathe ‘Summernight Horizon’ is next, Les Smith leading the way with some very fast keyboard flurries that Danny Cavanagh wastes no time into laying down some wonderfully distorted guitar onto. Lee Douglas has officially joined the band line-up full time as of this album, which is brilliant news; she has a beautifully haunting voice as evidenced on the duel harmonies with Vincent. ‘The world is like a jewel in your eyes…’ fantastic stuff
‘Dreaming Light’ is the ballad of the album, a gorgeous piano led piece. The great thing about music is the way it can make you feel and this song is so bittersweet, yet somewhat hopeful, it’s definitely about that kind of ‘fall in love’ in an instant type feeling we’ve all felt at some point – ‘…and you, shining silent, love steals my mind like the sunrise’. The instrumental section during this song conjures up a mind on fire totally besotted by someone.
‘Everything’ is a fast paced little number that makes you kind of restless just listening to it, with a chorus sounding not unlike ‘Heart of the Sunrise’ by Prog Legends Yes. Massive emphasis is on the use of Vincent and Lee’s harmonies and duel singing, it is the defining attribute on this album indeed. ‘Everything is energy and energy is you…’ pure vocal genius.
‘Angels Walk Amongst Us’ is a song that is very personal and emotional not at least for the 3 Cavanagh brothers being about the death of a close family member, the song builds up just as I would expect grief would upon losing someone very close. When the distorted guitars hit the forefront of the layers, the anger and frustration can just be heard. A very good mid-album piece perfectly placed.
The next track ‘Presence’ acts as a segue piece; featuring a spoken sample if a man talking about his views of mortality, he says that ‘life isn’t the opposite of death, birth is the opposite of death, therefore life is eternal’. It’s food for thought definitely, and it fits in the piece aptly before Lee Douglas vocals can another chance to shine, before the build up into:
‘A Simple Mistake’, without a doubt the best song Anathema have ever written, this is a fantastic 8 mini-epic. It really does have to be heard. The song can broadly be divided into 2 sections, the first 4 minutes are largely ethereal in nature featuring one of the most beautiful choruses I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing, the vocals and lyrics in particular are very strong. ‘Rise, be the master, cos you don’t have to be a slave’ – yeah stick it to the man and take some control over your life, despite any mistakes you might have made! The 2nd second is instrumental delight to the aural senses, starting with a distorted riff the whole band take off and proper go for it, John Douglas’s drumming in particular stands out here. The song builds up to a massive crescendo and then finishes abruptly leaving you for more. Powerful stuff!
‘Get Off, Get Out’ is the albums least serious piece, still full of energy and many fans have commented that it sounds very PT’ish. Coincidence seeing as SW mixed the record? The harmonies do have a very SW feel to them!
‘Universal’ is up next and is at least initially the most sombre piece on the album, introverted and retrospective, considering the wild ride we’ve had up to now it’s a welcome change to the ears! Danny Cavanagh’s solo is full of rich texture before… STRINGS are added to the mix, I am a sucker for String sections in rock music, and on this occasion they add so much depth! Closes the song off perfectly!
WHBWH closes unusually with a pure instrumental piece called ‘Hindsight’ which as mentioned above is also the name of the acoustic album they released a couple of years ago. Starting very much like Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were with the addition of a radio tuning into randomness, this is then joined by a voice talking about what seems to be the overarching concept of the album ‘Love and Life’. Soon enough though the guitars, drums and bass join in over the dynamic keyboards. The song builds up in intensity and leaves us with the one thought that: ‘Life is Eternal…’.
It may have taken a while to record but WHBWH has been worth the wait, this is Anathema doing what they do best being emotional atmospheric rock music that makes you think. It is a beautiful album and it does pain me slightly that not everyone will hear it.
If I dare say Anathema need to build upon the success of this, be very proud of this release and don’t leave it so long before they get back into the studio again to work on the next album. I for one will be there to ride the ethereal journey once again.
Vincent Cavanagh – Vocals
Daniel Cavanagh – Guitar
Les Smith – Keyboards
Jamie Cavanagh – Bass Guitar
John Douglas – Drums
Lee Douglas – Vocals