After the albums A Natural Disaster (2004), We're Here Because We're Here (2010, see review) and Weather Systems (2012, see review), I have become a hugh fan of the British alternative rock band Anathema. The last two albums ended up high in my top twenty list of the year and since then I've seen them live a couple of times. Their performances were always excellent and therefore I was really looking forward to this DVD.
Universal was filmed by Lasse Hoile from the ancient Roman Theatre of Philippopolis. Anathema played that gig together with the Bulgarian Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra and although I'm normally not a fan of that sort of concerts, this one is an absolute beauty. The music of Anathema goes very well together with the sound of the orchestra and it even provides this concert an additional musical value. Normally I don't like DVDs, as I have to sit down for more than two hours and watch TV, but Universal is different; I've been addicted to this one right from the start. The sound is superb, the gig is wonderful, the images are great and the band is in great shape.
The concert starts with two amazing songs from Weather Systems, being Untouchable, part 1 and part 2 and these two tracks set the tone for the rest of the DVD. Especially the crystal clear vocals of female singer Lee Douglas and Vincent Cavanagh give me goose bumps every time I hear them. Another highlight is Dreaming Light, one of my favourite Anathema songs from We're Here Because We're Here, which is a magical song with astonishing melodies. Other 'milestones' on Universal would be A Natural Disaster and Fragile Dreams. These pieces contain lots of great hooks, riffs and guitar melodies; it's dazzling stuff actually. This DVD is a real 'must have' for people who like fantastic melodic English progressive rock music. Check out the extras without the orchestra as well. Anathema rules! What a band, what an album!
***** Martien Koolen (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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