Being the most underrated band of the 1990's can be hard to take. For a start, nobody knows you're underrated because you're underrated. This, sometimes, is the affliction of the talented. Without sounding unbelievably egotistical, this is the burden of ANATHEMA. Born, bred, raised and emblazoned with true Liverpudlian style, these four friends (two brothers) and like-minded individuals are proud of their legendary beginnings, although it can be unfairly judgmental coming from the home town of The Beatles, Cilla Black, the Cavern Club, Melanie Chisolm and current trendsetters Shack. However, in June 1999 ANATHEMA released their fifth full length studio album 'Judgement', an album which, for many, was the genre defining rock album of the decade! Recorded at Damage Inc. Studios in Ventimiglia, Italy in February 1999 with Kit Woolven (Thin Lizzy, Cradle Of Filth) as producer, ANATHEMA took 3 months to record their masterpiece. News that this album was going to be something very special escaped before the album was even finished. Concerts in Italy, during the recording process, only hinted at what was to come.
'Judgement' finally emerged on 21st June 1999 to critical and fan acclaim, many calling it spiritual and inspiring, with the band making 'Album Of The Month' in over 20 magazines worldwide. Anyone who calls themselves a fan of rock music now cites ANATHEMA as a band at the forefront of the genre.
When the trio, Vinnie, Danny and Jamie Cavanagh, were larking about with an old, and no doubt broken, acoustic guitar or two, few would have imagined that it could amount to anything. But just a year later their first demo was complete. 'An Iliad Of Woes' started to circulate around the underground in 1990. Even at that early stage people spoke of them as being good and promising, but who could predict how much they would achieve.
A second demo - 'All Faith Is Lost' - was produced the following year, a year which also saw their first official release, a 7" single on Witchhunt records entitled 'They Die'. On the strength of these recordings, Peaceville records signed them and immediately released 'The Crestfallen', an E.P. that had been eagerly awaited. It didn't disappoint, and fans now give it the accolade of the ultimate cult release. By now, ANATHEMA had perfected a unique style, demonstrated on their debut album 'Serenades'. This was quickly followed by the release of a mini-album entitled 'Pentecost III'. Similar in style to the first album, and hinting at their prolific productivity.
The recording process for their second full length album, 'The Silent Enigma', had already started when long time vocalist Darren White left. With an album to record, ANATHEMA did what they could with guitarist Vincent Cavanagh taking over vocal duties. The result was a fine piece of work. A natural progression had taken place. Gone was the obscure time patterns and song structures. In its place were more simplified rock/metal anthems, but without losing their poetic uniqueness. The album included the breathtaking song which they end their concerts with, 'A Dying Wish'. People now began to realise that the young band from Liverpool were to one day become giants.
The band's next recording was their biggest departure from their roots yet. 'Eternity' was epic to say the least. Clocking in at just under an hour (that's not including the digi pack extra tracks), it was full of near harrowing songs about love and death. More Pink Floyd than Metallica, the songs included a cover of a Harper/Gilmour track (Dave Gilmour vocalist with Pink Floyd) 'Hope'. Vincent still held vocal duties, and instead of the near growls of the previous release he approached the mike in a more mature fashion. It certainly paid off. His solemn tones are a high point on an album which for many was ANATHEMA's lowest emotionally. Messy production gave the album a classic underground sound. This was the last time it was to happen.
On the next two albums ANATHEMA took on a totally different perspective, greater leaps forward were taken and the band haven't looked back. 'Alternative 4' was the band's fourth album, but it was as fresh as their debut. Moving on again from their previous release, critics hailed it as a phenomenal CD, full of rock gems. But there was still the dark side to the album, as there was with all its predecessors. 'Alternative 4' was their most polished recording yet, it boasts a clean production and Vincent's best vocal performance. This was also the last recording, with ANATHEMA, for bassist Duncan Patterson.
1999 saw much change. A move to Music For Nations and with new bassist Dave Pybus and original drummer John Douglas behind the kit, the band went to Italy to record 'Judgement'. The previous discs had all been good, but fans knew that the classic, definitive album was yet to come. But on the dawn of a new millennium and a year before their 10th anniversary the wait was over.
Keyboardist Les Smith (who was already helping the band on "Eternity" tour) joined the band in early 2001. Les took part in writing process of the new songs and his input can be clearly heard on the album on which he also worked as an assistant engineer . The band's sixth album "A Fine Day to Exit" was released on October 1st. Produced by Nick Griffith's (Cast,Mansun,Pink Floyd) it was recorded during the summer 2001 in Chapel, Windings Studios (U.K.). "A Fine Day to Exit" shows that the band has again managed to conquer some new territories musically without loosing magical atmosphere and emotional level. The album has got rave reviews and has been considered as ANATAHEMA's best work up to date. Soon after the recordings in July, Dave Pybus decided to leave the band because of personal reasons and musical differencies. George Roberts is the new temporary bassist on tours but the band is looking for a permanent bass player.
ANATHEMA have reached some of their goals by doing what every musician should be able to achieve, to write good music. It's only a matter of time before ANATHEMA start the world stadium tour they so rightly deserve to do.