Anathema - Eternity review


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Band: Anathema
Album: Eternity
Release date: November 1996

01. Sentient
02. Angelica
03. The Beloved
04. Eternity Part I
05. Eternity Part II
06. Hope [Roy Harper cover]
07. Suicide Veil
08. Radiance
09. Far Away
10. Eternity Part III
11. Cries On The Wind
12. Ascension

Digipack bonus tracks:
13. Far Away [acoustic version]
14. Eternity Part III [acoustic version]
15. Angelica [live]

Re-release bonus tracks:
16. Intro [live]
17. Restless Oblivion [live]
18. Shroud Of Frost [live]
19. We, The Gods [live]

This is the part I've anticipated the most, the time where I look into Anathema's Gothic metal era (although some would still say they are not there yet).

Eternity has a special place in my heart for being not only my favorite Anathema record, but what I consider to be one of the most underrated Gothic metal albums of all time. Seriously, everyone cites this and Alternative 4 as doom metal or even not metal at all, from here to Metal Archives, with it even being snubbed by certain critics and music media as to whether this album is important during the development of Gothic metal. For someone who has listened to this style of music for eight years now, this is definitely Gothic metal at its finest, rivalling some of Type O Negative's definitive albums. Hear me out on this one, because there is definitely a lot to explain.

Eternity marks yet another major shift in Anathema's career. This time no ounce of death-doom left, but still attaining the metal elements (even though Duncan Patterson himself would dismiss such a label). The influence is all over the music where it's very melodic, but incredibly atmospheric. The guitars are beautiful, and they increased their usage of chorus effect guitar. The guitar work is phenomenal from beginning to end; it's heavy, yet soothing at the same time. This is also Duncan Patterson's best performance with Anathema yet. He created some really catchy bass lines that sound like they were inspired by Gothic rock music (think Siouxie And The Banshees and Dead Can Dance) and of course that chorus effect he used was amazing. In fact, this album is the reason why I got obsessed with chorus effect bass guitar and had me interested in discovering more Gothic-inspired bass work from Gothic rock bands. The music is also incredibly depressing, where the keyboards really transcend to despair and in hypnotizing landscapes such as "Radiance" and "Far Away." The elegance in the use of piano during the intro song "Sentient" truly establishes the tone of the album, while the piano during the last minute of "Ascension" gives a heartfelt end to the album. If the intro organ to "Far Away" isn't Gothic to you then I don't know what else is. While they hold a few notes during most of their songs, but at least they changed up the structure unlike their song "Dreaming: The Romance", which goes on for so long. The way they use the keyboards was incredible and it definitely made Eternity Anathema's most atmospheric album.

Dynamics are a big characteristic in Eternity as it helps to bring a level of depression, relaxation and build to the album. "Suicide Veil" in particular is a great example of dynamic changes. I say that this song would make a great depressive Gothic metal (not a real genre) song. It starts off quiet with a defeated Vincent singing throughout only to then be accompanied by the piano, guitar, and bass. Then the climax reaches its loud moment, where everything felt worthless in the most beautiful way and then reduces its volume again to the sweet soothing acoustic guitars. This is Eternity in a nutshell.

Vincent Cavanagh's vocal performance has improved in Eternity. He may still strain on high notes (such as "Hope"), but it definitely has some of his most powerful moments in his career. His voice is incredibly melancholic and instead of sounding like that with spoken word, he sings it like he is defeated. This reaches its peak on "Suicide Veil", where he shouts like he wants to die and it sounds empowering. Theres a level of sensitivity in Vincent's voice and even points of reaching tenor to baritone range where it sounds dark and depressing. It ranges from not only high notes, but dirty singing. Although it may not be Vincent's overall best performance, the level of improvement, dynamic, tone, and volume is something that deserves recognition.

Eternity is also lyrically dark and depressing and has some of the most Gothic lines I've heard. This is yet another high point for Duncan Patterson, where he wrote most of the album's lyrics with the exception of "The Beloved" and "Radiance." The way he crafted the lyrics is something that also moved me and shows another improvement in songwriting.

"I dance with the shadows
In Tranquil Chaos I lay naked in the rain"

"Wild Flower and Starlit Heaven"

"At the end of the universe, there are a million angels"

The lyrics not only create another layer of atmosphere, but gives Vincent's vocal performance more passion, and depth.

I use to think that this album was perfect, but I do see a few flaws (Vincent's high note singing, and production) as I grow older and discover more music. In the end, however, this is one of the greatest underrated Gothic metal albums of all time. If by this point you're not convinced that this is Gothic metal, then I can accept that, not everybody can think the same as me. While it may not be Anathema's best album according to most fans, this is one of the two albums that really touched me the most (more so this album) and has inspired me with the way it was structured and musically crafted. A personal favorite of mine and an album where I can listen from beginning to end without skipping.

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 doom/death releases of "Serenades" and "The Silent Enigma" Anathema reach 1996 with their third full-length release, "Eternity", with Vincent remaining in the position of the singer offering to the band various ways of expression. With this release this unique UK band evokes a bitter taste of "eternity", the beauty of forever yet the bitterness of reality and simple questions/thoughts like "do you think we are forever?" reminding of how limited is our time on earth. Anathema drink from the wine of despair, sorrow, painful beauty, bitterness and cherish with us deep emotions through poetic and utterly esoteric lyrics, through melodies of their souls cutting deep in your heart with rose-leafs leaving behind bleeding wounds and aching scars.

published 17.10.2004 | Comments (9)


Comments: 2   Visited by: 14 users
15.10.2020 - 22:47
I am happy to read a so elaborate review on one of my most beloved albums of all time.
Second best Anathema, after Silent Enigma, if you ask me.
I did love this album much more at the time of its release than I do nowadays.
Yet, it will always have a special place in my heart.
Dont ask me about genre here though .... who cares anyway?
15.10.2020 - 23:28
Definitely quite overlooked compared to the rest of the albums from the same era. I guess I'm up for an early Anathena binge soon.
Father: How can a picture of a field be sad without a sad person looking sad in the field?
Young Woman: That's an interesting problem. Yeah, I struggle with that.

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