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Anathema - Universal

by Emily Coulter at 14 October 2013, 5:02 PM

ANATHEMA have peaked their career in music with the release of “Universal”, a live album recorded at the ancient theatre of Philippopolis in Plovdiv, Bulgaria with the accompaniment of the PLOVDIV PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA. Live albums either sound terrible or amazing and “Universal” tops the greater end, you actually feel like you're in the audience watching the band.

The album begins with “Untouchable Part 1”, from the moment it begins you can already feel the atmosphere of the concert created by the orchestra. Vincent Cavanagh's voice is gentle but powerful, enhanced by Lee Douglas's backing vocals. You can feel the raw power as Vincent sings the lyrics “I had to let you go and find a way back home, I had to let you go to the setting sun”. In addition, the violin's attributed the song with a romantic but dramatic feel.

”Untouchable Part 2” begins with a simple but effective piano composition. This track is a calm reply to ”Untouchable Part 1”, it feels fragile to listen too and much less dramatic. Though Vincent sing's on the track first it is Lee Douglas's vocals that give the track it's edge, her vocal range is what makes this track special and shouldn't be performed any other way. There are any three things what really stand out in 'Thin Air': The keyboards, the guitars and drums. The vocals take a back seat here, though still amazing they are not as strong as the previous two tracks. The drums sound blunt but still loud, the guitar's riffs are melodic but the keyboards are the star in the song. The keyboard segment at 3.07 makes you feel like it's the middle of winter and the first snowflakes are falling on your head. The keyboards give it the special touch it needed.

”Dreaming Light” is the weakest track on the album, though good it just lacks the lustre the other tracks had. The only thing that makes it good is the piano accompaniment, which makes it sound like it's from a Disney Soundtrack. Vincent's vocal range are at its peak here, just a shame how it could have been used on a better track. ”The Storm Before The Calm” title speaks for itself, the track is a storm and it's very haunting. The vocals are dramatic and hit with a hard punch at the best points, John Douglas's drums is in top shape, the bass playing of Jamie Cavanagh gives an underlying Jazz vibe. But that only describes half the track, halfway through the 9 minute song we are charmed with astonishing guitar solos and Vincent's vocals are put to the test.

”Everything” shows how well Lee and Vincent can work together, both harmonising with the piano accompaniment. The fast but structured drumming gives a spark to one of the weakest songs of the album. The guitar playing is great but if it was in a lower tuning it would have sounded a lot better as it sounds too conflicting at times with the vocals.

3 Star Rating

1. Untouchable Part.1
2. Untouchable Part. 2
3. Thin Air
4. Dreaming Light
5. The Storm Before The Calm
6. Everything
7. A Simple Mistake
8. The Beginning
9. Universal
10. Closer
11. A Natural Disaster
12. Flying
Vincent Cavanagh -Vocals, Guitar, Vocoder
Danny Cavanagh – Guitars, Keyboards, Vocals
John Douglas – Drums, Keyboards
Jamie Cavanagh– Bass
Lee Douglas – Backing Vocals
Record Label: Kscope Music


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