ANATHEMA – ‘The Optimist’ (2017)

23 June 2017
ANATHEMA – ‘The Optimist’ (2017)
  • Лейбъл: Kscope
  • Издаден: 2017
  • Aвтор: Никола Шахпазов
  • Оценка:

We should have seen it coming.


Thanks to their splendid (and we do mean splendid) 'We’re Here Because We’re Here' ANATHEMA gained quite a momentum. And for a while that was enough – they continued with the release of the tasteful 'Weather Systems' and the good but not nearly as great 'Distant Satellites'
 
And it's only logical that things would get to here. ANATHEMA are well aware they can't just stick to the formula that defined their last three albums- that is to say, to that lush, proggy, heavy on synthesizers sound. It's quite obvious the direction they're taking – the tracks are stripped of the more pompous elements, more classically rock yet infused with just about the right dose of electronics, piano chords and lots and lots of Lee Douglas' fabulous vocals.
 
ANATHEMA are taking a look back at 'A Fine Day to Exit'.

Their 2001 release was one of the most important in their carreer as it was not only a fitting successor to the classic 'Judgement' but a true farewell to the metal days of ANATHEMA and a leap forward into their own brand of melancholic British rock, infused with all the doubt, depression and disillusionment that we welcomed the new millennium with.
 
In a way, 'The Optimist' serves as a continuation of 'A Fine Day to Exit'. But rather, it is its opposition – a much more uplifting affair that bares little resemblance to the pessimistic, borderline suicidal nature of 'AFTE'. And this is not something we could easily swallow even with the knowledge of ANATHEMA's new and truly sunny and positive attitude towards music and life altogether.
 
Thus 'The Optimist' comes off way too lighthearted and sunny to be a true continuation of the layered and filled with so much internal melancholy and frustration 'A Fine Day to Exit'. In 2017 ANATHEMA are too light and preditable so we deduct it's moire of a two steps back and not really a step forard for the band.
 
And even the tracks that are most akin to 'WHBWH' and 'Weather Systems' (take for instance 'Ghosts', 'Close Your Eyes' and 'Endless Ways') are not enough to transform 'The Optimist' into more than a nice listen on a June afternoon. And being nice isn't quite flattering for a truly great act like ANATHEMA.

Conceptually, 'The Optimist' is skillfully constructed with a good integral progression through an atmospheric (almost cinematic) beginningand a fitting end but never do the electronic beats, acoustic passages and rocking riffs equate to what the same band delivered with 2001 tracks like 'Pressure' and 'Looking Outside Inside'.

Still ANATHEMA strife to achieve the right balance between grand (post) rock slabs and the more ethereal piano ambience but generally fail in 'Can’t Let Go', 'Leaving It Behind' and 'Wildfires'. Even the more tolerable Lee Douglas dominated 'Ghosts', 'Close Your Eyes' and 'Endless Ways' are miles away from the ANATHEMA we have come to like a revere.
 
The final two-parter 'Back to the Start' is once again a clear reference to 'A Fine Day To Exit' and its glorious closing tracks ('Temporary Peace' and 'In the Dog's House'). And yet, all resemblance both in style and quality ends there. Only the sound of the sea waves is pretty much the same.