anathema - distant satellites“Weather Systems”, the previous Anathema record, made quite an impact upon its release. It’s widely regarded as one of the band’s finest works, since 1999’s “Judgement”. In line with their current work ethic the Cavanagh brothers decided to use the momentum to work on yet another Anathema record. Let’s see whether “Distant Satellites” has the chops to stand up against its illustrious predecessor…

Never content with making the same album twice “Distant Satellites” marks the next step in Anathema’s ongoing musical evolution. The band themselves describe the new record as the culmination of everything they’ve worked towards the last couple of years. That’s quite a statement, but it has to be said the individual tracks on “Distant Satellites” work extremely well together, yet contain enough body to stand on their own as well. This is a clear indication of the mind boggling songwriting prowess within the band.

Songs like ‘The Lost Song part 1’, ‘Dusk (Dark Is Descending)’ and ‘Anathema’ with their lush arrangements, vocal harmonies and the elaborate use of piano and a string section are very much in the line of what the band has done on their previous three albums, so not much of a surprise there. However, things turned quite a bit when you’ve reached ‘You’re Not Alone’. It’s starts as a more traditional Anathema type ballad, but when the electronic elements kick in, you’ll notice soon enough this is where the album’s true face comes into view. The title track is the most dramatic example of the band’s new found admiration for the likes of Autechre and Aphex Twin.

Those new influences take some time of getting used to, but once you get round it, you’ll notice they fit really well within the overall musical framework. In fact, those electronic influences give “Distant Satellites” its distinct colour and character. It’s also to the Cavanagh brother’s eternal credit that they’re willing to take musical risks, which makes Anathema a shining beacon in a sea of endless copycatting and musical regurgitation.

“Distant Satellites” is a typical grower. It needs quite some time and patience before the album gives its musical essence away. The electronic influences may be a hurdle for some listeners as well. However, if you’re willing to keep an open mind you’ll find yourself seduced by this album’s dark and unconventional charm…

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