Anathema - Alternative 4 review


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Band: Anathema
Album: Alternative 4
Release date: August 1998

01. Shroud Of False
02. Fragile Dreams
03. Empty
04. Lost Control
05. Re-connect
06. Inner Silence
07. Alternative 4
08. Regret
09. Feel
10. Destiny
11. The Silent Enigma [bonus]
12. Your Possible Pasts [Pink Floyd cover] [2004 re-release bonus]
13. One Of The Few [Pink Floyd cover] [2004 re-release bonus]
14. Better Off Dead [Bad Religion cover] [2004 re-release bonus]
15. Goodbye Cruel World [Pink Floyd cover] [2004 re-release bonus]

After the release of 1996's Eternity, Alternative 4 is clearly its logical successor. Far from the doom-death metal of their first albums [The Crestfallen, Serenades, Pentecost III and The Silent Enigma], these talented English musicians reinforce their already high position in the doom metal sphere.

The first track - called 'Shroud of False' - is a wonderful piano intro with one of the clearest sound I've ever heard. Simply a great overture for the rest of the album. Then, 'Fragile Dreams' is an amazing doom song. This track is one of my all time Anathema's favorites. With any doubt, one of the best doom songs ever written. 'Empty' brings a supernatural melancholy to the album but incredible as it may seem, it's also one of the fastest [or at least less slow] song on Alternative 4. 'Lost Control' has a weird effect on me: I'm starting to calm down. And then, I'm thinking about life and death. This song has an incredible doom-power. Terrible sadness... Let's have a look at my favorite lyrics of the whole album:

"Yes I am falling, how much longer 'til I hit the ground
I can't tell you why I'm breaking down
Do you wonder why I prefer to be alone
How I really lost control..."

Now, you can understand the pain that this album is carrying. I have to talk about the importance of acoustic guitars in Anathema's music: they are the strong basis on which piano and other depressive instruments can express gloominess. Back to the tracklist, 'Re-connect' sounds almost violent compared to 'Lost Control' but then, 'Inner Silence' seriously calms the tempo. 'Alternative 4' is even slower and very very... strange. The kind of song you're not happy to listen to at midnight, alone in your small apartment. Obviously, Liverpool is not a good place to be [these guys are from that city]. 'Regret' is another of my favorites. Maybe their most complete song, technically speaking. I love the way Vincent Cavanagh is singing on the whole album [he sounds like he doesn't have fun every day...], but on that song, he is even better. In my mind, 'Feel' is the closest composition to 'Regret' even if the end of that song is not as good as the end of the previous one. Finally, 'Destiny' is a short epilogue for Alternative 4 and - you guess right once again - it's not time for Anathema to make a Slayer's cover! A weird lullaby, almost insane, a special ending track a la Anathema... As a bonus track, you get an orchestral version of 'The Silent Enigma': piano, violins,... A true orchestral track, indeed. That's brilliant.

This album was a total discovery for me, as I wasn't at all a doom listener. The title of the album fits perfectly as Alternative 4 is an alternative for all other "pure metal" styles. All the songs are worth listening and the album is a perfect doom masterpiece. One of these albums that come with a rope [if you know what I mean!]. The only reason I don't rate it 10 over 10 is because, in my opinion, the album Judgement is better. Alternative 4 remains a must-have along with 1999's Judgement.


Written on 26.08.2003 by Bringing you reviews of quality music and interesting questions such as:

"A picture is worth a thousand words. How many words is a song worth?"

I have only got so much patience and skills, you do the math.


Comments: 9   Visited by: 233 users
25.12.2006 - 23:51
I wouldn't have been able to say it better, and that's because the same words that I've got in my mind are already posted in this review.
Alternative 4 is really deep, and the deepest feelings are well expressed in every lyrics, although I would have rated the album with a 10 because there is a transition between both albums (Alternative 4 and Judgement), equally better, in their own way.
And sometimes I despair
At who I've become
I have to come to terms
With what I've done
25.01.2007 - 13:43
Account deleted
My favourite Anathema album. Brilliant song writing, amazing vocals, great musicianship, awesome riffs amd atmospheres, very good lyrics. IMHO - a masterpiece.
02.02.2007 - 14:40
This is a very depressing and depressive album (in a good sense!). The melodies couldnt be any better to fit the mood. If there is a musical expression for grief its in this album. This album and this band mean a lot to me.
Written by BloodTears on 19.08.2011 at 18:29

Like you could kiss my ass.
04.03.2007 - 22:56
lost control
27.07.2007 - 06:56
Account deleted
16.10.2007 - 18:24
the song "Lost Control" is so sinister isnt it? It almost pulls to that edge. Seriously, that songs frightens me.
Written by BloodTears on 19.08.2011 at 18:29

Like you could kiss my ass.
25.02.2009 - 22:13
Written by BloodTears on 16.10.2007 at 18:24

the song "Lost Control" is so sinister isnt it? It almost pulls to that edge. Seriously, that songs frightens me.

Yeah, that song is one of my favorites, i love it, is the perfect music when i feel down, is like they know your feeling. Amazing song, Amazing Album
20.11.2009 - 19:37
Liver Failure
Pretty anguising, that song ''Regret'' is perfect!

member of the true crusade against old school heavy metal, early 80s thrash, NWOBHM, traditional doom, first and second wave black metal, old school death metal, US power metal, 70s prog rock and atmospheric doomsludgestoner. o/
06.01.2010 - 07:41
I love 'Inner Silence' the best. Wonderfull!
"Hope is the greatest of all evils, for it prolongs the torment of man." - Friedrich Nietzsche

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