Tag Archive: Review



Genre: Rock\Metal

Year of Release: 2010

Record Label: Kscope

Recommended for fans of: Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd, Mogwai.

Track Listing:

  1. “Thin Air” – 5:59
  2. “Summernight Horizon” – 4:12
  3. “Dreaming Light” – 5:47
  4. “Everything” – 5:05
  5. “Angels Walk Among Us” – 5:17
  6. “Presence” – 2:58
  7. “A Simple Mistake” – 8:14
  8. “Get Off, Get Out” – 5:01
  9. “Universal” – 7:19
  10. “Hindsight” – 8:10

Review

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.

Lineup:

Vincent Cavanagh – Vocals
Daniel Cavanagh – Guitar
Les Smith – Keyboards
Jamie Cavanagh – Bass Guitar
John Douglas – Drums
Lee Douglas – Vocals

4.5/5

D.P

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Genre: Rock\Metal

Year Of Release: 2007

Record Label: Roadrunner

Recommended for fans of: Tool, Opeth, Anathema, Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails and Massive Attack.

 

Track Listing:

  1. “Fear of a Blank Planet” – 7:28
  2. “My Ashes”– 5:07
  3. “Anesthetize” – 17:42
  4. “Sentimental” – 5:26
  5. “Way Out of Here” – 7:37
  6. “Sleep Together” – 7:28

Review

 

This is possibly my most listened to album at the moment [as of early 2008] and I guess I’m going to give it a rest for a few months or so; therefore now is the best time to write the review, seeing as I’m retiring it for a while! Now the clever ones amongst you will notice that since it has been my most listened to album lately, then it must be a good one. It is, in fact its that good that it’s the first review I’m going to give full marks for on this site, and believe me when I say that I won’t be handing out full marks that often. 

Before ‘Fear Of A Blank Planet’ was released, it was probably the most eagerly anticipated Porcupine Tree album yet, the fact that the band were playing the album in its entirety live during autumn 2006 added to the excitement. I was present at one of these ‘preview’ gigs, when the set was divided into 2 parts, the first part was ‘FOABP’ albeit in a pre-studio form, and the 2ndset comprising of mostly stuff from the previous 2 albums [Deadwing and In Absentia] with some classics thrown in.  I have to say on hearing the material in its early form, I was both overwhelmed and delighted, the freshness and complete unfamiliarity with the material was fantastic, and fan reaction was very favourable. So after this batch of tour dates, PT went into the studio and recorded the penultimate versions that you hear on the final album, and what an album it is! 

Now, ‘FOABP’ is a concept album, I don’t want to go too in-depth about the concept, rather add little slithers here and there when I see fit. SW was heavily inspired by the novel ‘Lunar Park’ by Bret Easton Ellis. The novel is written from the perspective of a father, what SW has done is turned things on its head and made the story in ‘FOABP’ from the fathers sons point of view. That of a terminally bored kid with little to do other to sit in a darkened room playing playstation games, watching hardcore pornography whilst being addicted to prescription drugs. The album is very much ‘this’ kids view on his life as he see’s it.  If you need further clarification, all you have to do is read the lyrics. What is equally as important as the lyrics, is the music, this album is one of the best albums for production and musicianship I’ve ever had the pleasure to listen to! 

So the album opens up with the title track ‘Fear Of A Blank Planet’after what sounds like someone typing on a computer keyboard [the kid, possibly googling for pornography] a vibrant fast paced guitar enters which is soon joined by Gavin Harrison’s immense drumming. If you though GH sounded good on ‘Deadwing’ you’re in for a treat, his drumming on this album is fantastic. The song is joined with some great rhythmic singing from SW, which opens up the song and sets the scene for the next 7 minutes. The song features some nice playing by all the band members, and it’s a fantastic album opener which draws you in from the very start, the metal section mid-song is awesome, and the outro section bringing a change of pace for the next song. All the tracks on ‘FOABP’ merge into one another, SW has said that he wanted the album to be heard as one continuous piece of music, the transitions are wonderfully done.

So when ‘My Ashes’ appears next you are ready for it. This could be described as the ‘Lazarus’ of ‘FOABP’, with lush acoustic guitars and SW’s soothing voice leading the way. What I like about this song though is the soundscapes provided by Richard Barbieri, they really add a punch to the song in creating a delectable atmosphere. This song works really well in luring the listener into a false sense of security because the next track is possibly the best Porcupine Tree song ever created, at least in my opinion.  

Before the album tracks were officially named, the 3rdsong on the album was affectionately known my fans as ‘The Beast’ and quite rightly so. ‘Anesthetize’ is one hell of a 17 minute ride. Now I don’t initially dismiss long songs  as being pretentious, or overly bloated like many people would do, that’s not to say that some aren’t. ‘Anesthetize’ certainly isn’t, it could be described as being divided into 3 distinct sections, the 1stsection features Gavin Harrison’s drumming at its best, a georgous chorus plus a fantastic guitar solo provided by Alex Lifeson. [Rush] The 2ndsection comprises of a lengthy instrumental part followed by a vocal part that’s so full of texture and hidden depth it comes bursting out of the speakers by the bucketload. The talent displayed by each band member during this section is a delight to hear. The 3rd section is what could be best described as total sweetness for the ears, completely contrasting the other two sections that came before it. The vocal harmonies are out of this world, and overall I couldn’t possibly think of a better way to end the song. Perfection.

 The rest of the album is still fantastic, although nothing comes close to beating the 17 minute centerpiece, the next song ‘Sentimental’is sort of a companion song to ‘My Ashes’. It has some wonderful piano in it, and even manages to give a sly wink to ‘Trains’ off of ‘In Absentia’. The only thing that I didn’t like about this song at first was the weird Banjo solo [if it is indeed a Banjo] that is played over the ‘Trains-like’ riff. I’d hate to listen to the song without it now! 

‘Way Out Of Here’is a little bit of a anomaly, you see this song wasn’t originally debuted with the rest of the album back on the 2006 fall tour. The reason being that a song called ‘Cheating The Polygraph’ was in its place. SW either decided that ‘CTP’ wasn’t good enough to make the final album or just didn’t fit in very well, so the band got together and wrote ‘WOOH’ to fill the void. Good choice because its miles better then ‘CTP’ which actually ended up on the ‘Nil Recurring EP’. The song also contains some rather inspired soundscapes by none other then the legend himself Robert Fripp [King Crimson] who is actually a very good friend of SW. These soundscapes fit lovingly into a section of the song before a big chunky metal riff comes in and rips everything apart. I love the interplay on this song, and the outro features some fantastic bass work off of the wonderful Colin Edwin. 

The album closes on ‘Sleep Together’. One of the best PT album closers yet, normally a PT album closer is a fairly downbeat affair such as ‘Stop Swimming’, ‘Feel So Low’ or ‘Glass Arm Shattering’. Not in this case, what could be best described as Nine Inch Nails meets Massive Attack meets ELO is the meal of choice. I’m an absolute sucker for dark electronica, more-so for strings, you meld the two and oh boy what a result! The outro section is one of the most memorable pieces of music I’ve heard in a decade. 

‘Fear Of A Blank Planet’ is without a doubt the best PT release yet, only one other PT album in my opinion would score the same, that being ‘In Absentia’, and I’ve not reviewed that one yet! If you like to lose yourself within the dark corridors of your mind for 50 minutes, and indulge yourself in a reverse ‘Lunar Park’ then I can highly recommend you order this work of art immediately. You won’t be disappointed. 

Lineup: 

Steven Wilson – vocals, guitars, piano, keyboards
Richard Barbieri – keyboards and synthesizers
Colin Edwin – bass guitars
Gavin Harrison – drums  

Guests: 
Alex Lifeson (Rush) – guitar solo on “Anesthetize”
Robert Fripp (King Crimson) – soundscapes on “Way Out of Here”
John Wesley – backing vocals 

Score: 5.0/5.0 

D.P

 

 


 

    

 

 

 

 

 

Genre: Rock/Pop

Year Of Release: 2007

Record Company: Snapper Music/Atlantic/We Put Out Records

Recommended for fans of: Coldplay, Keane, Radiohead, Porcupine Tree.

Track Listing:

 1. Once (4:03)
2. 1,000 People (3:54)
3. Miss U (4:13)
4. Christenings (4:37)
5. This Killer (4:06)
6. Epidemic (4:59)
7. My Gift of Silence (4:05)
8. Some Day (4:22)
9. Where is My Love? (2:59)
10. End of the World (5:13)
 

Review 

Backfield are one of those bands that don’t get the coverage they deserve in certain countries, in this case I doubt if many people in the UK will have heard of them so let me clear a few things up.

Blackfield is a collaboration between Porcupine Tree’s front-man Steven Wilson, and Israeli superstar Aviv Geffen, and by superstar I mean it, this guy is huge in Israel, like Robbie Williams huge. Whereas Porcupine Tree music could be described as having progressive leanings, Steven Wilson uses his Blackfield outlet to explore the world of light rock with a pop twist to great effect; I dare say it works better then the likes of Coldplay and Keane. What I mean by this is that Blackfield’s music is easily accessible to listen to, and any of the tracks they have produced would fit in on commercial radio stations with ease.

This is Blackfield’s 2nd release, the first being in 2004 with ‘Blackfield I’; indeed the Led Zeppelin methodology of naming albums is being followed here with the 2nd album being called ‘Blackfield II’. I can heartily recommend the first album, however this 2ndalbum is a much more polished affair, whereas in Blackfield I the tracks whilst atmospheric, seemed a bit sparse in places.

So the 2nd album opens up with a track called ‘Once’which features some well placed drums and guitar before some soothing vocals, the popish element to the song writing is noticeable straight away yet the addition of a thundering guitar riff within the song is perhaps something bands like Coldplay and Keane wouldn’t use, yet Blackfield take the tempo up a notch and it works. ‘1000 People’ works on so many levels, not only because it’s a simple pop song, but also because it has depth in both its lyrical content and instrumentation, it’s a relaxing soothing 4 minutes with a darker chord progression.

The next track ‘Miss U’opens up without warning to some marvellous guitar work before Aviv Geffen takes lead vocal duties, the song which features some rather impressive orchestration is absolute ear candy during the chorus, and even though its only 4 minutes long, there’s time for a short guitar solo at the end which is perfectly placed in the song.

‘Christenings’ is a bit of an oddball, the song was originally written during the Porcupine Tree Deadwing’ sessions, and for some reason which is probably because it wouldn’t have fitted into Deadwing very well its ended up on ‘Blackfield II’. The plus point of this move is that it sounds more like Blackfield then PT, however I was quite curious to learn that as it appears on the album it’s the version that PT recorded, couldn’t Blackfield have re-recorded it? Seems simple enough to me, they play the song live on stage! Regardless of this criticism the song is a musical delight, and one of the best songs on the album, apparently the lyrics are based on the downfall of Syd Barrett [Pink Floyds original guitarist and songwriter who died in 2006] and work really well.

‘This Killer’ is probably the sleeper track of the album, meaning that whilst it might not strike you as particularly delicious on the first listen, it grows on you and gets better every listen, ambient and full of vocal delight. ‘Epidemic’is a good a choice as any for a single from this album and I have to say my all time favourite Blackfield track, its full of energy from the opening piano playing to the excellent guitar fuelled bridge, most of all the addition of a little shouting [you’ll understand if you hear the song] in the middle of the bridge by Aviv Geffen is quite marvellous, could be an absolute hit if it got regular airplay.

‘My Gift Of Silence’ continues the album focus on lyrical content, swarming in beautiful layers of keyboard melodies and quite breathtaking harmonies, I have a feeling this track is really moving when performed live. ‘Some Day’ is a straightforward affair, with the last 2 minutes of the track being particularly strong with its orchestration and the layering of guitars, ‘Where Is My Love?’was originally included on the first album as a bonus track in the form of a rough demo, this version is far better being more polished in every-way and the build-up to the ending is far more pronounced.

The album closes with ‘End Of The World’that is sure to become a live classic as an encore at future Blackfield gigs. It closes the album perfectly in a rather positive manner, despite the name of the song.

Overall this is the best Blackfield release yet, and its sounds far stronger and more mature then their first effort. Their audience is bound to grow within the UK quicker then they might expect seeing as Porcupine Tree are becoming bigger news every year , Blackfield will be discovered by a whole new legion of fans, indeed times look good for this band, and their 3rd release could be very much the album that gets them the recognition they deserve.

Lineup:

Steven Wilson – Guitar, Vocals
Aviv Geffen – Guitar, Vocals
Daniel Salomon – Keyboard, Piano
Seffy Efrati – Bass
Tomer Z – Drums

Score: 4.0/5.0

D.P