ANATHEMA – We’re Here Because We’re Here

It feels like it’s been a lifetime since the release of a new ANATHEMA album and the waiting has been taxing on fans. No doubt there have been various legitimate reasons for the length of time, including turmoil within the band and business issues. Now, onto the positive side of things…We’re Here Because We’re Here is absolutely fantastic.

The aura of positivity and hope is embodied in everything about the record, even on the more sublime songs. Just look at the cover artwork. Despite the fact that ANATHEMA has made a career of depressing and melancholic music, We’re Here Because We’re Here somehow fits perfectly into their catalogue. Even a song titled “Angels Walk Among Us” works. In the same manner in which their melancholic songs lifted one’s spirit, these songs do the same.

Stylistically, this is the further evolution of their unique style of atmospheric, emotional prog. The music is lush and rich without sounding overpowering or overdone. The song arrangements are dynamic and nearly flawless. Every member of the band can clearly be heard and lend their collective voices to create the synergy that can be heard. Subtle traces of their doom metal roots can be heard here and there.

No disrespect to ANATHEMA‘s previous two albums, A Natural Disaster and A Fine Day to Exit, but We’re Here Because We’re Here is the band’s strongest effort since Judgment. The latter is just so complete, full, and solid.

The bottom line is one of the best bands in the scene is back and the world is a better place for it. Welcome back, ANATHEMA. We missed you. (The End Records)

Anathema – Everything by TomosBlack

ANTIMATTER – Alternative Matter

Music is such a powerful form of expression, one that can blow your mind and speak to the soul. ANTIMATTER is one such band that operates at the deepest levels. It’s a given that the band’s releases have all been winners and this anniversary compilation is no different. Band mastermind Mick Moss combed through the archives to include demos, alternative versions, live versions, and remixes of the band’s music pre-Leaving Eden, many of which include the work of former bandmate, Duncan Patterson. Even their excellent cover of DEAD CAN DANCE‘s “Black Sun” made it and is the compilation’s opening track. Alternative Matter traverses the sonic palette of the band, which includes acoustic guitar/bass, female vocals, male vocals, synthesizers/programming, and violins. The songs are just as sublime, melancholic, and atmospheric as they always were.

Though ANTIMATTER fans have heard most of these songs in their original or live forms, they somehow stay fresh and vibrant in their alternate forms here. When it comes down to it, that is really a compliment to the quality of the songwriting. There are no stand out tracks as they are all fantastic. Fans will each have their favorites. With 22 tracks on the digipack double CD version, there is more than enough content to enjoy for quite some time. The premium artbook version has more than 100 pages, three CDs and one DVD. Wow.

Due to Alternative Matter‘s career spanning content, it is a great representation of ANTIMATTER‘s earlier years. Thus, a fine compilation for old and new fans of the band that will leave a lasting impression. It is also celebration of one of the underground’s best and criminally underrated bands. (Prophecy Productions)

ANATHEMA’s We’re Here Because We’re Here to Finally Receive North American Release

Legendary doom/prog band ANATHEMA are set to release the highly anticipated We’re Here Because We’re Here on June 7th on The End Records. The album’s release coincides with the band’s first ever North American tour. Dates in support of BLACKFIELD kick off on May 18th in Washington, DC.

We’re Here Because We’re Here perfectly blends alternative, rock, and prog, and marks the 8th studio album from a band with such a natural sense of melody, seething power and lyrics that they enlighten and inspire.

A special, limited edition deluxe edition will include three bonus tracks, 7 inch with two unreleased tracks, and a DVD 5.1 surround version of the album, along with the stereo version, both mixed by Steven Wilson of PORCUPINE TREE.

Tour dates can be found here.

AGUA DE ANNIQUE – Air

Anneke van Giersbergen‘s departure from THE GATHERING was certainly a surprising announcement. But with a rapid turnaround not remotely metallic, it appeared to be a necessary move for van Giersbergen to foster creative explorations. On the surface however, AGUA DE ANNIQUE treads the same waters of latter-day THE GATHERING. Though that’s every bit satisfying, it leaves a bit to be desired without much true differentiation. Regardless, Air is a relaxed album of enjoyable post-metal, gothic-tinged, indie rock, driven by Anneke‘s familiar voice. “Day After Yesterday,” “My Girl,” and “Sunken Soldiers Ball” are soft yet pleasant songs in a happier key not far from COLDPLAY-level adult contemporary, whatever-rock. On the more haunting end are tracks like “Ice Water” and “Trail of Grief,” which are dressed with darker melodies and parallel works of ANATHEMA and/or IN THE WOODS… The album’s best track is clearly “Yalin,” a song who’s vocal melodies change up beautifully between verse, pre-chorus, and chorus. Despite the too familiar sounds (songwriting, vocals, instrumentation), AGUA DE ANNIQUE‘s debut album is thoroughly positive and enjoyable. Let’s just hope that the band continues to grow and develop away from the familiar territory of its singer’s former band. (The End Records)

ANATHEMA Plan to Release Two New Albums in 2008

The UK’s ANATHEMA have announced plans to release two new albums this year including a semi-acoustic album of older songs. The band issued the following update:

“We have taken all of our recording equipment to a house in England where we have built a studio and begun the first of two records to be released this year. The recording has been going very well.

“This first record is a semi-acoustic recording of many of our most loved older tracks. This will be released on Peaceville Records. The working title is Temporary Peace.

“The songs to be included on Temporary Peace are:

“‘Angelica‘, ‘Leave No Trace‘, ‘Inner Silence‘, ‘One Last Goodbye‘, ‘Are You There?‘, ‘Fragile Dreams‘, ‘A Natural Disaster‘, ‘Temporary Peace‘ and ‘Flying‘.

“The record will be a substantial work, arranged by Danny [Cavanagh] and performed and produced by the band, recorded and engineered by our own Les Smith, who was responsible for the recordings of ‘Everything‘ and the other new songs released online last year.

“This will also feature the cello of Dave Wesling, who previously toured with Vincent [Cavanagh] and Danny in 2004 and is featured on the DVD A Moment in Time.

“It may also include a reworking of one or two classic tracks from the very early days of anathema.

“In late winter/early spring, immediately following the recording of this semi-acoustic album, we will enter a studio to record the next full length anathema album, which be produced by ANATHEMA and mixed by Steven Wilson, independently from a record company.

“Upon completion, the new album will be licensed around the world, giving us artistic and creative control and keeping the rights to the music in our own hands.

“All being well, you will see the release of two records from anathema this year. A semi acoustic classic tracks album, and a full length new album.

“Then touring…”

Anneke Van Giersbergen, Danny Cavanagh Schedule One-Off Show

Anneke Van Giersbergen (AGUA DE ANNIQUE, ex-THE GATHERING) and Danny Cavanagh (ANATHEMA) have announced a special one-off show where each musician will perform a solo set, followed by a special set with both musicians. Each musicians plan to feature classic songs from their long careers in THE GATHERING and ANATHEMA, respectively, as well as some new and obscure songs. The performance will take place at Little Devil in Tilburg, The Netherlands on January 2, 2008.

ANTIMATTER – Leaving Eden

Time marches on as Mick Moss (vocals/guitar) powers ANTIMATTER‘s first album without its other founding member in Duncan Patterson. And Moss admirably and impressively creates the band’s best album to date. Leaving Eden is a collection of sweeping tides of emotional atmospheres. The soulful yet melancholic feel is undeniably potent and leaves quite an impression. Much of the songs take on a more rock-ish feel this time around with a healthy dosage of electric guitars, and less minimalist elements of the past. However, ANTIMATTER‘s trademark acoustic guitars are ever present. Moss has also employed a full band, which most notably includes ANATHEMA‘s Danny Cavanagh on guitars, piano, and vocals. Cavanagh‘s contributions play an integral part on the album’s success as his piano and lead guitar work help to take the songs to new levels. Songs such as “Redemption,” “Another Face in the Window,” and “Freakshow” are some of the heaviest songs that the band have ever written. ANTIMATTER aim to achieve PINK FLOYD-level heights of emotion and atmosphere and they certainly come as close as one can get. There are also plenty of acoustic guitar-based songs that are perfectly complemented by violins, bass, and drums. At the end of the day, Mick Moss is the star of Leaving Eden as his warm, soulful vocals are as good as it gets. Without a doubt, Leaving Eden is ANTIMATTER‘s most accomplished and profound work to date. Definitely a candidate for one of the year’s top releases. (Prophecy Productions)

ANATHEMA: European Tour & New Album Plans

ANATHEMA‘s Danny Cavanagh has issued a lengthy update on the band’s upcoming plans, which include a European tour with PORCUPINE TREE and tentative plans to release a double-album entitled Paradigm Shift. The update reads as follows:

ANATHEMA is planning to play a lot of new material on tour with PORCUPINE TREE throughout Europe in the autumn…

PORCUPINE TREE have kindly asked ANATHEMA to support them on their full European tour in the autumn…this tour is still in the planning stage and will cover a lot of territories.

ANATHEMA have decided that – rather than rushing into the studio to finish the album in time for the tour, (and not being able to work with the producer we would like) – it will actually benefit the new songs to play them live BEFORE recording them.

“So you can expect to hear songs like ‘Angels Walk Among Us‘, ‘Paradigm Shift‘, ‘Hindsight‘, ‘Get Off, Get Out‘, ‘Lightning Song‘, ‘One Day‘, ‘Summernight Horizon‘, ‘Further‘, ‘A Simple Mistake‘ and others on the tour with PT

“Our new American manager is helping to put everything in place for us to record and release this ambitious music. He is negotiating deals in the USA and advising us on our best way to go. the response from record companies has been very positive.

“We intend to record over 80 minutes of music [and] at least 14 songs. The idea AT THE MOMENT is to release a double album called simply…Paradigm Shift.

“Again this not not confirmed, PLANS CAN CHANGE.

“A double album WILL NOT mean it will be a very long album…it may only be two groups of seven songs…split over two CD’s in order to be easily digested by the listener. It definitely will not be a self indulgent album. It definitely is not a concept album.

“Themes of life, healing and unity will run through some of the songs…

“The recent shows we have played this year have been great. We had some great nights, some great audiences and great laughs. Thanks for everyone who helped make it happen. Special thanks must go out to Derek and Alex at the agency, Mick Reed, Milly Evans, Raymond, Ian, Loz and Hans for making it all work.

“We have loved playing. We look forward very much to introducing this intense, passionate new music to the public on tour with PORCUPINE TREE. we then look forward to recording what i personally think will be a wonderful record after the tour. It is the first album we have made that will be truly complete. It will change lives. Hopefully beginning with ours.”