Review by Adam M on July 5, 2017.
This is a nice change of pace for Anathema. They’ve started to incorporate more of the electronic elements that made Distant Satellites such a success. This album has strong undercurrents of that album, but pushes to new territories that are decidedly interesting. The music here is certainly subtle and will probably appeal to the mainstream rock audience as much as that of the metal genre.
I still believe this album is stronger than some of Radiohead’s most recent material, for example. The music has more conviction and more drive than that band’s material. It is also a little beefier despite the subtle mode attached to it. Not only are Vincent Cavanaugh and Danny Cavanaugh’s strong vocals present, but now there are more from the backup singer Lee Douglas. She does a phenomenal job on such tracks as Endless Ways. This song is strongly atmospheric and builds on the previous track Leaving it Behind nicely. The nice variety of vocal styles is certainly one of the strong points of the album. Add in some nice use of subtle instrumentation and you have a recipe for a very nice recording. This is certainly my least favourite of the recent Anathema albums, however. There is not enough of a standout characteristic that is new and fresh anymore. In fact, this album seems to be borrowing from the material of the last couple of Anathema releases to only bring the quality down a little. It still makes for a rousing listen, but I suggest listening to the prior couple albums before this one and making a purchase decision.
The material is very pretty and able to attract a nice audience on this element alone. I still think the band is going on a bit of a downward spiral now, however. The Optimist is a great work, but not as good as the last couple of records.
Rating: 7.7 out of 10