Anathema's Distant Satellites: an intense, painstakingly wrought work

Neo-gothic prog atmospheres demand attention.

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If people often compare you to Radiohead, it’s perhaps unwise to let the refrain ‘I don’t belong here’ creep into the third track on your tenth album. Still, Liverpool’s Anathema, now in their 25th year, are nothing if not earnest, and forge past that into an intense, painstakingly wrought work.

Following 2012’s acclaimed Weather Systems, this offers further murky clouds and stormy skies from the band of (two sets of) brothers. Recorded in Oslo, with two tracks mixed by Steven Wilson, Distant Satellites is modern prog only in the same sense that Mogwai or God Is An Astronaut are.

Poised plateaux lead to crashing crescendos as agonised vocals moan about the cruelties of the universe and the ex-girlfriend. Its morose sincerity merits plaudits, but the muted-Muse tone is a tad wearing. The Lost Song comes in three parts, and attempts to recreate, from different angles, a track accidentally wiped from the computer. You’re Not Alone offers a skittish rhythm, while the title track detours divertingly into crisp electronica. Plenty here to admire – if you’re in your most po-faced mood.

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.