Anathema – The Optimist

album by:

Reviewed by:
On 16 May 2017
Last modified:16 May 2017


Another masterpiece, flawless from start to finish





Anathema return with ‘The Optimist’ but how does it stand up to its most recent and perhaps most comparable predecessors , 2012’s highly influential ‘Weather Systems’ and 2014’s incredible ‘Distant Satellites’

I believe it was a certain Winston Churchill that once said “To improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often”. Anathema are just one of those rare and incredibly gifted bands that thrive and indeed almost insist on change, and with the ‘The Optimist’ they have certainly fulfilled the brief, albeit with more than a backward glance to 2001’s album ‘A Fine Day To Exit’, with its Reggie Perrin style interwoven tale of a man wanting to exit the modern world, although the listener is never quite sure as to the final outcome. So story wise, I guess you could call it ‘part 2’, however stylistically the albums are pretty far apart

The album begins with ‘32.63N 117.14W’, which are the exact coordinates for the beach in San Diego where the character from ‘A Fine Day To Exit’ leaves his car to face his fate. Essentially a sound effects track rather than a tune, the piece ends with the constant flicking of channels on the car radio before tuning in to the emerging electronic beat which leads into one of the faster paced tracks on the album, and indeed one of my favourites ‘Leaving It Behind’, with its perfect balance of guitar and dark synth. In total contrast ‘Endless Ways’ brings the hauntingly beautiful vocals of Lee Douglas to the fore and demonstrates how much more versatile and expressive the song writing has become since the permanent inclusion of the male/female vocal format

The overall sound of the album has a perhaps darker feel to it that may appeal to the old school Anathema fans more than some of the most recent releases but that doesn’t mean to imply that there is a lack of variance and originality, far from it. The album visits many different levels along the way, the wonderful piano led escapism of the title track, which just builds into a crescendo of hope , the ambient strains of the instrumental ’San Francisco’, or the soul searching ’Springfield’ which is such an immensely powerful track that it can not help but move you.

The final segment of the album begins with ’Close Your Eyes’, almost Jazz like in places with a twist of ’Ninth Wave’ by Kate Bush thrown in, before the quite dramatic ’Wildfires’ asks more questions as to the ultimate fate of the character against a steadily increasing backdrop of pounding tribal drums and soaring guitar. Of course, the stories end is left up to the listener to decide, another masterstroke, as ultimately the album is and can be whatever you want it to be

Anathema have yet again created a masterpiece, unmistakably Anathema but arguably sounding so different to anything else they have done before. Few, if any bands could create such a complex and emotional album but Anathema demonstrate once again how totally on top of their game they are

Recommended track – ’Springfield’

Track Listing ;

32.63N 117.14W
Leaving It Behind
Endless Ways
The Optimist
San Francisco
Can’t Let Go
Close Your Eyes
Back To The Start

Anathema Line Up ;

Vincent Cavanagh – Vocals, Guitar, Keys
Daniel Cavanagh – Guitar, Keys, Vocals
John Douglas – Acoustic/Electronic Percussion
Lee Douglas – Vocals
Jamie Cavanagh – Bass
Daniel Cardoso – Drums/Keyboards

The Optimist is released via Kscope Records on June the 9th


Another masterpiece, flawless from start to finish

About Simon Bower

Rock/Metal junkie living in beautiful Anglesey.Love live music and have a musical taste which can go from Cannibal Corpse to Kate Bush in the blink of an eye.