** Decibel’s Top 100 Doom Metal Album of All Time issue is available now (HERE). So inspired by England’s place on the map (OK, list) and equally inspired by Anathema’s early catalog inclusion, I wanted to Top 5 songs that aren’t on Last.fm lists, have been spurned by Anathema (no remake of “Suicide Veil”?), or have been ignored by doom metallers old and young for whatever reason. Enjoy the sorrow. And don’t forget to tell us which Anathema songs are your favorites. Anathema were, as you know, the bible…
5. “Suicide Veil”
“Suicide Veil” doesn’t really start until 2:30 mark. While the synths could’ve been lifted off of Ian Haugland, the rest of the song is as miserable as a rainy Monday in deep autumn. Vincent’s vocals border on rage and despair and the final minutes of the song are classic Anathema. They group loved to draw out songs—some may argue in unnecessarily—using repetition to drive home simple yet emotionally complex themes. “Suicide Veil” is no exception, except the songwriters use the prolog and epilog to communicate Anathema’s minimalisms. Eternity is a rare gem in doom metal’s slow motion landscape.
4. “Sunset of Age”
This is a classic early ‘90s era Anathema track. The drawn out main riff pairs rhythmically with drummer John Douglas and Duncan Patterson, tumultuous and undulating, while the keyboard swells (in parts) almost unheard in the background. The song is largely different from other Anathema tracks. The beginning and end action sections, while the middle fans out in pure ambience. What really sets “Sunset of Age” apart from other Anathema tracks is its very Anathema like complementary guitar line to the main riff. Listen and be amazed.
3. “Eternal Rise of the Sun”
Recorded during the Pentecost III sessions, “Eternal Rise of the Sun” is proof positive the path Anathema were heading down in ’94 wasn’t getting any happier. More hopeful, yes. “Eternal Rise of the Sun” is secured in awesome by its Near Eastern rhythm and jam-like coda. Darren White’s lyrics are different from his other vociferation of loss and despair. When he opines “Believe in angels, they believe in you / Oh, spread your wings, there is more than this darkness”, it’s clear his influences were starting to come from different places (possibly India). For years, the only place to find this song (pre-YouTube) was on the We Are the Bible 7”, but resurfaced in 2002 on the Resonance 2 compilation.
2. “Mine is Yours to Drown in (Ours is the New Tribe)”
Doom metal has always been about big, monolithic riffs and imposing song structures. OK, not always, but sometimes. “Mine is Yours to Drown in (Ours is the New Tribe)” was the second track on the Pentecost III EP and it doesn’t really feel like Anathema. Sound like, yes. Feel like, the rhythmic plod is more rooted in Godflesh. Throw in a rougher production, a more clinical drum production and “Mine is Yours to Drown in (Ours is the New Tribe)” could’ve been a Godflesh song (circa Pure). The middle of the song is different, however. And this changes everything. When White goes into his unpublished lyrics about Atlantean and druid stuff, the musical movement is right out of Serenades. The heaviness of the Cavanagh riffs can never be understated. They crush. But they also have a delicate side in Danny’s sustain and note choices. The song’s end is bliss.
1. “Cerulean Twilight”
On The Silent Enigma, Anathema axed singer Darren White. Guitarist Vincent Cavanagh took over for White last minute and, to be fair, killed it. There isn’t a single piece of Anathema music before and after The Silent Enigma that’s as pissed, tension-filled, and emotionally crushing as the album’s mid-point trio of “Nocturnal Emission”, “Cerulean Twilight”, and “The Silent Enigma”. “Cerulean Twilight”, in particular, is the most harrowing of the terrible troika. True, the chick scream, Cavanagh’s scathing lyrics, and the brilliant end motif to “Nocturnal Emission” rules dark corners, but “Cerulean Twilight” is a perpetual wave of sorrow, hate, and desolation. Danny Cavanagh’s nightmare strums and note torture is off-the-charts incredible and the 30 seconds of screams under Vincent’s agony vocals level most black metal vocals in the last decade. Hyperbole? Listen to real close to Vincent. There’s no light or hope in his voice. The emotion behind it is so raw and unhinged, it’s a wonder he wasn’t asked to enlist in short-lived UK black metal wonder Megiddo.