WPGM Recommends: Anathema – The Optimist (Album Review)

It’s crazy how this band has changed over the years from being a goth metal band to making prog music. It continues in the release of their eleventh studio album The Optimist. It was produced by Tony Doogan who is best known for producing Snow Patrol‘s “Up To Now” and “When It’s All Over We Still Have to Clear Up.”

This album follows the narrative stemming back to 2001 with the the album A Fine Day To Exit which followed the life of a character called, The Optimist, and looks into what happened to him. You’d imagine it would be hard to make an album work with a character that you created 16 years ago but it works really well here.

There is a good blend of electronic and atmospheric sounds, great builds throughout the album, some amazing piano playing and yet again the vocals are so beautiful it brings a tears to your eye.

The album starts with “32.63N 117.14W which is more of a prelude to “Leaving It Behind.” The title is a call back of the coordinates of Silver Strand Beach in San Diego, where the character The Optimist was last heard from in A Fine Day To Exit.

He gets into his car and he turns on the radio when Anathema starts playing an electronic beat leading into the next track. “Leaving It Behind” keeps the same drum beat with picked guitar coming in with Daniel Cavanagh vocals leading.

The drums kick in and the song’s pace picks up, continuing to build until the end, with a great blend of electronic sounds and rock really starts this album off with a bang.

This continues with “Endless Ways” with a beautiful sounding piano melody with Lee Douglas‘ amazing vocals over the top which are a joy. With great build up with the guitar and drums coming in really takes control. It ends in the most beautiful way with dropping out each instrument one by one with Lee’s vocal saying, “Dreams I created” until the end, it’s a stand out moment.

A similar layout is found in “The Optimist” with the piano intro, but now with Daniel’s singing, holding notes which lead into a great instrumental with another great crescendo.

In “San Francisco” is just a straight up instrumental with an amazing sounding piano with cool reverb and delay that mixes it up a bit. The addition of the palm muted guitar riff makes me want to listen to it all day. That main section drives the whole song and adding different synth’s and effects to it gives it an Alan Parson feel to the track.

Springfield is more relaxed, with a pull off guitar line that is joined by piano. But when the whole band comes in and the guitar line/solo joins as well it’s just beautiful and gives you goosebumps. “Ghost” is an atmospheric track with Lee’s vocal harmonies, piano and string section build up, every part are in the spotlight. A bit less grand than the other songs but makes you feel out of this world.

Straight to the point with “Can’t Let Go” with drums and guitar leading the way with Daniel’s vocals and same with the build up. Amazing guitar work yet again, ending with the audio of the The Optimist returning home.

Close Your Eyes” is an beautiful crafted piano piece that work amazing well with Lee voice and makes you want to just close your eyes and relax. And with “Wildfires” is more piano work with Daniel on vocals but more of the same with build but can’t get enough of when the guitar lead kicks in their amazing.

But the album ends where it began with “Back to the Start” where The Optimist is back at the beach where it all started. With a nice bend of electronic and piano and, Daniel’s vocals is really nice to hear. But what a way to end with one last epic instrumental and to an album I enjoy so much.

Overall, this is incredible album with great electronic and prog elements and works well with the vocal of Lee and Daniel made me enjoy it even more. The instrumental is out of this world and you should definitely check this album out.

The best tracks are Leaving It Behind, San Francisco and Close Your Eyes.

Anathema The Optimist is out now via KScope. Purchase it on iTunes here.

Words By Stuart Irvine

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