Anathema - Alternative 4 review
|Release date:||August 1998|
01. Shroud Of False
02. Fragile Dreams
04. Lost Control
06. Inner Silence
07. Alternative 4
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
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