Sound: In 2008, early doom pioneers Anathema released "Hindsight", a collection of reworked and re-imagined versions of songs from the band's past, from 1996's "Eternity" to 2003's "A Natural Disaster". While the resulting product was a resounding success, both in theory and in execution, it notably didn't include tracks from either of the band's first two full lengths, effectively ignoring the days Anathema reined (alongside fellow Brits Paradise Lost & Swedish stalwarts Katatonia) as the modern bearers for the doom/death sub-genre.
Fast forward to 2011, and it appears Anathema have attempted to rectify this with "Falling Deeper", featuring exclusively reworked versions of songs from the band's early output. While this could have been a success on the same level as "Hindsight", one can't help but wonder how much effort was ultimately put into crafting the reworked material for the album, as it appears (rather remarkably) to be the first instance Anathema could be described as being lazy.
The orchestral arrangements present on each of the reworked tracks are, while stunning and meticulously crafted, at time a bit too reminiscent of the band's previous full length, 2010's "We're Here Because We're Here". While this is but a small quibble, the main problem with "Falling Deeper" isn't that it's too same sounding, though it does tend to get that way towards the end, it's that the mostly instrumental "reworked" arrangements often feature no more than one melody or harmonic progression from the original song, leaving a lot to be desired when compared to the stunning arrangements on "Hindsight".
Considered on it's own merits, however, "Falling Deeper" reveals some of the band's most gorgeous piano and orchestral based music, continuing on in the trend started with "We're Here Because We're Here". "Sleep In Sanity" and "Sunset Of Age", in particular, benefit from the lush string arrangements and the layered vocals that have become Anathema's trademark. // 7
Lyrics: Guest vocalist Anneke Van Giersbergen (perhaps best known for her work with Ayreon and Devin Townshend, among others) handles lead vocal work on two tracks, the reworked arrangements of "Everwake" and "...Alone", while vocalists Daniel Cavanagh and Lee Douglas share duties on the remainder of the tracks, each displaying their remarkable talents as vocalists. The lyrics themselves remain unchanged from that of the originals, the bleak outlook on life that was Anathema's early trademark ("I cry a tear of hope but it is lost in helplessness/The darkness eats away at the very embers of my soul") present on all of the album's tracks, only perhaps for the first time backed by such lush arrangements. // 7
Overall Impression: Following the high expectations set by their previous release of reworked material, the brilliant "Hindsight", "Falling Deeper" admittedly doesn't live up to the standard achieved on that album. Taken for what it is, though, fans of the band's unique sound will find a lot to enjoy in the new arrangements, provided they listen with an open mind. // 6