Anathema
Resonance 2

The second installment of Anathema’s Resonance retrospective albums is a strange trip when you look at who and what the band currently are.

Really, when you reflect on Anathema’s career, the evolution from The Crestfallen EP to the band’s recent album, A Fine Day to Exit, is fairly obvious. For proponents of everything pre-The Silent Enigma, Anathema were bound to explore everything they could. You knew it. Sure, you cry sellout. But what about ‘Sleepless” Or Anathema’s daring 20-minute ambient piece on Serenade?.  Surely, these are signs of an ambitious band, not merely content with reworking the highlights of their British brethren in Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride.

So, if you’re new to Anathema and wonder where their bitterness and downtrodden atmosphere originate, Resonance 2 offers a pleasantly grim glimpse of Anathema at their heaviest and most outspoken. Certainly, it’s feasible the early material is the product of teen angst, but few bands have been able to convey a fraction of raw emotion present in nearly every single one of the band’s tracks. Take, for example, ‘Sweet Tears’ (heavy) or ‘Nailed to the Cross/666′ (outspoken). Both cuts stem from nearly the same period yet they’re remarkably different in expression. Same for ‘A Dying Wish’ (explosive) and ‘Fragile Dreams’ (revealing). Here are two examples of Anathema post-Darren White, and while they may bear remarkable differences musically, what these two share with the other two is an ability to communicate to the listener.

Much of Anathema’s music is similar ‘ it hits you deep down where you least expect it ‘ and unlike heavy music at large it isn’t instantly gratifying. The Liverpudlian’s music is a bittersweet pill that’s engineered to help you out of an emotional well or throw you headfirst into it, and for longtime fans it’s that trait that compels us to come back and have another go with the band album after album. Resonance 2 may not be as inclusive of bonus material as its black-covered counterpart, but for some strange reason, it seems as if the second volley is more indicative of the Anathema I first identified with. Sure, you get a 1996’s version of ‘Sleepless’ (what’s with the awful female vocals?) or the rather professional video for ‘Mine Is Yours,’ but Resonance 2 is all about Anathema in transition ‘ growing pains, band quarrels, member shifts and, more importantly, progression.

The collection chronicles Anathema’s beautiful plight, so if you thought the first version felt a little empty, number two unrelentingly dishes it out and then some. As with most compilations of this nature, completists will already have the bulk of the Resonance series, but if you were slow to find Anathema, they offer a snapshot of a band whose talent and tenacity is still charging forward at full steam. Thanks for the memories, Anathema. There are many more to come.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Chris Dick
February 25th, 2002

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