Anathema - The Silent Enigma review


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Band: Anathema
Album: The Silent Enigma
Release date: August 1995

01. Restless Oblivion
02. Shroud Of Frost
03. ...Alone
04. Sunset Of The Age
05. Nocturnal Emission
06. Cerulean Twilight
07. The Silent Enigma
08. A Dying Wish
09. Black Orchid
10. The Silent Enigma [orchestral version] [remaster bonus]
11. Sleepless 96 [remaster bonus]

[bonus DVD: A Vision Of A Dying Embrace]
01. Sweet Tears
02. Mine Is Yours
03. The Silent Enigma
04. Hope

[Live (Krakow 1.3.96)]
01. Intro
02. Restless Oblivion
03. Shroud Of Frost
04. We The Gods
05. Sunset Of Age
06. Mine Is Yours
07. Sleepless
08. The Silent Enigma
09. A Dying Wish

I'll be honest, I haven't listened to The Silent Enigma in its entirety in a while. I remember being so obsessed with this album during my first year of community college, but other Anathema albums that I thought were better were now my daily listening. Three years later, and here I am talking about yet another album from one of my favorite bands.

By 1995, Darren White had left the band to form The Blood Divine, and left in his place was Vincent Cavanagh in his debut as the lead vocalist. The band's music was also changing rapidly with every passing release. Sure, this album is still death-doom, but this is more atmospheric and has plenty more Gothic elements as in Pentecost III. Much like Serenades, after listening to this album again I liked it much more than I initially did. This isn't a perfect album, nor do I consider this their best record, but this is still a great album.

As I said before, The Silent Enigma is more atmospheric than the previous releases. It's definitely a fresh change and it still holds out in terms of established tone. Highly aggressive, yet blooming with melodic atmosphere. It's one of those Gothic death-doom albums where most of the songs have changing dynamics going from highly aggressive death-doom ("Restless Oblivion") to quiet gothic interludes ("Alone"). The guitars are a high point, ranging from delay chorus sounds, soothing acoustic elements, and straightforward death-doom influences. I simply enjoyed "Sunset of Age" and its soothing repeating guitar riffs, and the ending track of "A Dying Wish" where they utilize build up structures to make the song sound epic. This is also the first album in the band's career where keyboards are used, and they are used sparingly but beautifully, especially in "Sunset of Age' and "Black Orchid." Out of Anathema's discography, this album has the most variety where it showcases the band's past, but also doing something new.

The majority of The Silent Enigma's music is well-written; however, not all songs are consistent. I always have an issue to how the band ends a few of their songs. The biggest example comes from "Nocturnal Emission" and "Cerulean Twilight." The ends of these songs don't necessarily go anywhere, and fade out to endless noodling. I prefer "Nocturnal Emission" over "Cerulean Twilight" because of how incredibly dark and aggressive it sounds, plus the sounds they use to make it sound tense are a good way to make up the end of the song.

So how did Vincent Cavanagh do during his first release as a main vocalist? It was good, but there are still issues to be mentioned. This is indeed a shy performance and it shows in his consistency. He does do a great job with his shouting, but it can be a bit inconsistent, losing some power in a few songs. For example, in "A Dying Wish", he starts off the song with a fantastic death metal-inspired tone, but then as the song progresses he loses power, especially at the end of the song where he loses that same tone from the beginning. Some songs where he does spoken word are solid and show a level of melancholy and depression. There are definitely high points in Vincent's performance, such as "Sunset Of Age", "The Silent Enigma" and "A Dying Wish", where it shows that he does have some comprehension of how to utilize extreme vocals combined with singing and spoken word. Nevertheless, I do praise Vincent for his potential and the fact that he's expanding his vocal range and techniques; however, I have mixed feelings with Vincent's performance on this album.

The lyrics for The Silent Enigma are solid, but I do think it's one step backwards coming from Pentecost III. It's simple, but very melancholic and I still enjoyed every word uttered on this album. Not really going to spend much time on the lyrics, they pretty much get a pass.

I have my criticisms with The Silent Enigma, but I still think it is a great album. This is definitely the album where some death-doom fans consider to be a high point in Anathema's career. I often consider it as their bridge point from doing death-doom metal to Gothic metal. This would be the last album where any trace of death-doom is heard and the band's evolution would only continue for the better. It definitely has flaws that still bother me, but still a better release than Serenades and great execution.

Written by Gothic Metalhead | 13.10.2020


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.

Staff review by
After the wonderful and emotionally fortified doom/death metal debut album "Serenades", Daren White, singer of Anathema, leaves the band not the peaceful way. This is the moment when one of the two guitarists of Anathema, Vincent Cavanagh, will replace Wight on the microphone. The vocals of Vincent are, in my opinion, more intense than Wight's and they pace wonderfully with the lyrics and the music of "The Silent Enigma".

published 17.10.2004 | Comments (8)

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