When I found out that Daniel Cavanagh of Anathema was releasing his first solo album not long after Anathema released their last album “The Optimist,” I found it to be a bit curious for sure. Cavanagh is Anathema’s primary songwriter and that last Anathema album was an absolute snooze for me PLUS the album before that “Distant Satellites” was incredibly annoying to me. So if these songs on his solo album “Monochrome” were not good enough for those albums, it was a cause for concern.
It turns out the material on “Monochrome,” while all DEFINITELY sounding like Anathema is FAR superior to anything on those last 2 albums and for me, it harkens back to “Weather Systems” and the 3 albums prior as far as song quality. The interesting thing is that the overall vibe is similar to “The Optimist” in that it’s mostly laid back and sounds good for listening in a dimly lit room. Honestly, “Monochrome” is the album that I wish “The Optimist” was.
I think removing the other forces within Anathema from the equation and letting Danny make all of the decisions proved to me that I am less a fan of the band and more a fan of this man’s songwriting talent. Plus, with all due respect to his brother Vincent, Danny has an awesome and powerful voice. He can do all of the mellow, introspective material AND hit the big notes when needed.
He also has Anneke Van Giersbergen guesting on vocals on three tracks. For me, she is a massive up grade on Anathema’s Lee Douglas whose bleating vibrato often drives me fucking nuts. Anneke has more power, sounds better when singing quietly and has more overall control of her vibrato. So when you listen to a track like “Soho,” it sounds like Anathema in exile or something. “This Music” sounds like it should have been on “Weather Systems.” These are all top line songs!
One track that really gripped me is “The Silent Flight Of The Raven Winged Hours” which is longer and has a mid section that Anathema hasn’t tried (very instrumental and also atmospheric) but they should! The only track that doesn’t quite hit me is the closer “Some Dreams Come True” which sounds more like 3 separate pieces for a movie soundtrack. To be clear, it’s still very good but not as good as the rest of this album.
Anathema fans need this album. It’s that simple. If you are like me (probably not!) and feel that Anathema hasn’t delivered a great album since “Weather Systems,” then you NEED to check out “Monochrome.” This is the album that should have followed that one. “Monochrome” is a showcase of Daniel Cavanagh’s song writing talent and a chance for him to be firmly in the spotlight as he should be. This is one of 2017’s best albums and makes up for “The Optimist” putting me to sleep!
1. The Exorcist
2. This Music
4. The Silent Flight Of The Raven Winged Hours
6. Oceans Of Time
7. Some Dreams Come True
Release Date: 13 October 2017