Now that fellow labelmates and countrymen My Dying Bride have two excellent retrospectives in the proverbial bag, Anathema get their turn to compile and assemble a collection or two of their own.

While Bride’s dual slabs of melancholy were voted by the fans on the group’s website, Anathema here seems particularly adamant over what tracks made it on the first Resonance. Whether that’s in Anathema’s favor depends on when you discovered their sublime output. In any case, one quick run through the track listing reveals that material with former singer Darren ‘Daz’ White is suspiciously missing. What? No ‘Sweet Tears,’ ‘Kingdom’ or even ‘Eternal Rise of the Sun?’ Nope. Well, ‘Scars of the Old Stream’ appears, but can hardly be counted as a bona fide Anathema track of yore. But before the diehard fan in me discards the vestal Resonance as a mindless assortment of Liverpudlian table scraps, the quality and overall fluidity of the album is something which marks nearly every Anathema album. It’s almost indescribable ‘ The Silent Enigma, Eternity and Judgement all possessed this celestial fingerprint. Not to say Resonance matches any of the above in terms of sheer emotional weight, but the spark is there.

The compilation lures the listener into relaxed state of concentration with slower, more reflective tracks like ‘Everwake’ and ‘J’ai Fait Une Promesse,’ both home to the hauntingly beautiful Ruth, and never quite turns heavier. Musically, that is. The acoustic rendition of ‘Far Away’ is just as impassioned as the original, with vocalist/guitarist Vincent Cavanagh’s soul-wrenching outcries hitting home as powerfully as they did when first unleashed on The Silent Enigma. The track blends effortlessly with two of the three Eternity pieces, the third part being an unplugged affair displayed with Anathema’s warm rage. ‘Better Off Dead,’ a Bad Religion cover that appeared on Peaceville’s X compilation, however is a bit of a stretch. With an unnamed female vocalist at the mic, ‘Better Off Dead’ ends up sounding like a Lilith Fair B-Side, forgoing Bad Religion’s penchant for fast-paced, tell-it-like-you-don’t-want-to-hear-it punk for piano/vocal melodrama. Yuck!

Anathema’s reverence for Pink Floyd isn’t a secret, which is certainly why ‘One of the Few’ (off Pink Floyd’s The Final Cut) and ‘Goodbye Cruel World’ (off The Wall) are rendered with utmost caution. The tracks aren’t the most adventurous to tackle from Floyd’s wide array of emotionally charged work. They do fit the scope of Resonance and lyrically are prime fare for the Cavanagh brothers to soak up and reverberate it back to the world.

‘Inner Silence,’ ‘Destiny’ and the orchestrated version of ‘The Silent Enigma’ are all culled from Eternity, an album that seems sorely regarded as a low point Anathema’s post-Darren White discography. Not sure if they’re present to resurrect an old album or to help continue the otherwise (rattled only by the rough live cut of ‘Angelica’) smooth transition from track to track. Not surprisingly, such heavy petting of Eternity works well in the absence of material from Judgement. With regard to said album, ‘Forgotten Hopes,’ ‘One Last Goodbye’ or ‘Emotional Winter’ would have worked perfectly here. My bet their omission is down to licensing issues between Peaceville and MFN. Oh well, hopefully a few cuts from Judgement will prevail on the second part of ‘Resonance’ as should ‘Lovelorn Rhapsody’ (Peaceville Vol. 4 version, thank you), ‘Mine is Yours to Drown in,’ ‘Sunset of the Age,’ ‘Cerulean Twilight’ and maybe a smashing cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Comfortably Numb.’

 The catalog holes notwithstanding, Anathema more than make up for it them with the most consistent collection out of the bunch (At The Gates, My Dying Bride, Autopsy), showing companies like Nuclear Blast and others too numerous to mention that with a little care and vision collections don’t have to sit dejectedly in cut-out bins or sold to local used stores for pocket change. Anathema has always been a unique entity in a world of mediocrity and Resonance continues to be a testament to that. Here’s to concourse number two.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Chris Dick
November 17th, 2001


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