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Anathema - "We're Here Because We're Here" (CD)

Anathema - "We're Here Because We're Here" CD cover image

"We're Here Because We're Here" track listing:

1. Thin Air (5:59)
2. Summernight Horizon (4:12)
3. Dreaming Light (5:19)
4. Everything (5:06)
5. Angels Walk Among Us (5:17)
6. Presence (2:58)
7. A Simple Mistake (8:14)
8. Get Off, Get Out (5:01)
9. Universal (7:19)
10. Hindsight (8:10)

Reviewed by on July 16, 2011

"Although many metal fans clearly won’t fall in love with the pop and rock elements, Anathema’s latest is both musically intriguing and sonically beautiful, and successfully bridges the divide between underground and mainstream."

Eschewing any remaining vestiges of death or doom metal, Anathema’s “We’re Here Because We’re Here” is a much more positive and uplifting album than would be expected, showing that music doesn’t necessarily have to be dark to be interesting. Although many metal fans clearly won’t fall in love with the pop and rock elements, Anathema’s latest is both musically intriguing and sonically beautiful, and successfully bridges the divide between underground and mainstream.

It should probably be noted that comparisons have been (rightfully) made between the album and popular rock bands such as Muse, Radiohead, Kings of Leon, and even Coldplay. Those sorts of names might normally prompt metal fans to take up pitch forks and form an angry mob, but Anathema has translated that type of sound into something more worthwhile for music lovers who despise the top 40. While the core of the music is essentially atmospheric or progressive rock, the songs on “We’re Here Because We’re Here” still retain an obvious influence from metal, and the guitars occasionally go off on heavier tangents.

The tracks on the disc tend to have slightly longer song lengths than similar types of music, allowing more ideas to be explored. The long, but not too-long, nature of each song makes the album more of a journey of sound, rather than individual tracks lumped together. Shifting from male to female vocals, changing from piano-driven pieces to guitar-heavy segments, and always staying just at the fringes of anything that could be considered “heavy,” the album has a strong flow that makes it easy to forget there aren’t growls or blast beats. Atmosphere is given a strong precedence over showy instrumentation, and it actually works out surprisingly well.

In many ways “We’re Here Because We’re Here” comes off as an upbeat and slightly poppy version of Katatonia. The standard gloomy lyrics are reversed and replaced with new-age affirmations of everything’s interconnectedness and declarations of healing. In songs like “Everything,” the combination of ideas with atmosphere can actually be amazingly inspiring, even to the most jaded and extreme of metal heads, although in tracks like “Dreaming Light” it almost crosses the line and becomes too soft for its own good.

Ignoring anything that’s expected of a band that started firmly rooted in the metal scene, Anathema’s most recent full-length is a study in how music doesn’t have to be heavy to be worth hearing. Anyone who isn’t interested in piano-driven or rock music may not enjoy it, but metal fans who dig a progressive attitude and a strong emphasis on atmosphere have nothing to lose in trying to find out if “We’re Here Because We’re Here.”

Highs: Some incredibly beautiful and inspiring sounds can be found on the album.

Lows: The music does occasionally dip too far into pop and mainstream rock.

Bottom line: This is beautifully composed atmospheric music, but metal fans who can't stand mainstream rock may not find it worthwhile.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)