Anathema was formed in 1990 as a doom metal band, but through the years they changed their style of music. Nowadays, they're associated with alternative, progressive and post rock. Falling Deeper contains orchestral interpretations from a number of their atmospheric rock pieces. This means they rearranged old favourites in an almost completely different style. The new album can be seen as the successor of Hindsight (2008) that also contained different versions of former recorded songs.
Falling Deeper was produced by singer-guitarist Vincent Cavanagh and by his brother Daniel Cavanagh, the guitarist and main composer of the band who defines the record as: 'a nod to our past and a look to our future all at the same time, with a sound designed to transport you to the heart of the present moment.' The mixing was done by Andrea Wright at the legendary Parr Street Studios in Liverpool, where bands like Elbow, Coldplay and Echo And The Bunnymen have recorded albums as well. The orchestral arrangements were done by the band in collaboration with Dave Stewart, who worked successfully with Anathema on their latest release We're Here Because We're Here (see review). The producer of this album was Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree), who described it as 'definitely among the best albums I've ever had the pleasure to work on.'
Alongside Daniel Cavanagh (lead guitar, vocals, keyboards) and brother Vincent (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar) the band consist of Jamie Cavanagh (bass), John Douglas (drums), Les Smith (keyboards), Lee Douglas (lead and backing vocals) and the Dutch guest vocalist Anneke van Giersbergen (The Gathering, Agua De Annique). Listening to all the songs on Falling Deeper made me realize that Anathema have released a very special album that will not only appeal to prog rock devotees. Every now and then the brand-new arrangements and the use of a 26-piece string section shifts the music towards classical music and accordingly enjoyable for lovers of this genre. However, the haunting melodies from the band's earliest days as pioneers of heavy doom metal will also appeal to people who enjoy the music of acts as Dead Can Dance and Karda Estra. They created the same kind of atmospheric music. The atmospheric sounds, due to the use of instruments like the e-bow, grand piano and acoustic guitar, seem to be indispensable in the whole picture. Together with the orchestra and the beautiful vocals mainly of Lee Douglas, Anathema created fantastic music that has nothing to do with the doom metal they once played. The reworked songs contain hardly any traces of the original versions.
A special mention goes to the way Anneke van Giersbergen sings on Everwake, a song originally released on the EP The Crestfallen (1992). It's one of the highlights of Falling Deeper, there's no question about that. Her voice lifts the song to an even higher level than it already had. Another highlight is the final piece Sunset Of Age, especially the guitar playing is breathtaking taking the song to an outstanding musical climax: a perfect ending of a perfect album! I'm sure that Falling Deeper will end high on many year lists. Just like the band's last effort We're Here Because We're Here, this record will appeal to prog heads with a soft spot for atmospheric music with a classical touch.
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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