Anathema’s development has been a joy to behold. While Paradise Lost were (unjustly) reviled for their forays into electronic territories and My Dying Bride have maintained a steady pace through the fields of doom, Anathema have moved so far beyond their early incarnation as to be almost completely removed from those gloomy days of yore. Yet this is no bad thing, in place of the guttural roar, last truly evidenced on ‘The Silent Enigma’, Vincent Cavanagh’s voice soars with emotion and the guitars are now tinged with the epic melancholy of Meddle-era Pink Floyd.
Released as a bridge between 2003s magnificent ‘A natural Disaster’ and the forthcoming ‘Horizons’, ‘Hindsight’ offers a semi-acoustic look back at the bands catalogue and features many of their greatest songs. Far more than just a poorly made stop-gap, this collection is perfectly recorded and sequenced to provide the ideal soundtrack for a quiet evening in. ‘Fragile Dreams’ opens proceedings with Vincent’s voice sounding worn yet powerful over a piano. ‘Leave no trace’ follows along with ‘inner silence’ before we are treated to the pained ‘One last goodbye’ which details the death of the Cavanaghs’ mother. Managing to up the ante over the original recording, the song is both beautiful and painful to listen to and is one of the few songs to truly capture the universal awfulness of loss. By contrast the prettily picked ‘Are you there’ offers some respite, ‘Angelica’ passes by swiftly and the band are joined by Lee Douglas (the drummer’s sister) for ‘A natural disaster’. Her voice, as always, works perfectly and seems stronger than ever in this melancholy acoustic setting. ‘Temporary peace’ and ‘Flying’ round off the re-recordings of old songs and the album ends on a high-note with the one new song on offer: ‘Unchained (tales of the unexpected)’. It is an all-to-brief taster of the album to come and signifies great things.
Re-recording old songs can hint at many things in a bands life: a reassessment of past glories, re-affirmation of intent or a desperate shortage of cash(!). This collection looks back upon Anathema’s not insignificant past efforts and casts them into a new light, fresh with the bands continued hunger to develop and stretch their abilities. Packaged either in a digi-book (if you’re lucky enough to track this version down) or standard super-jewel case, this is a stunning set of songs that would appeal to metal fans and Nick Drake lovers alike. Simply astonishing.