Anathema can never be defined by one album, or even a selection of albums, but what this box set does is to mark out the true start of their ongoing journey through progressive rock.
The three albums included here (Judgement, A Fine Day To Exit and A Natural Disaster) are each different to one another, yet together they represent a remarkable period in the story of a band who have never been predisposed to stand still. In 1999, Judgement was a massive leap forward from the previous four releases. Here was a collective embracing the atmospheric nuances they had only hinted at previously. Listening back, the swirling emotions of songs such as One Last Goodbye still leave a lump in the throat. Two years later, A Fine Day To Exit took their sound and style even further. You could hear echoes of Pink Floyd and Radiohead, but this was Anathema expressing an individual spirit for the era. In 2003, they released A Natural Disaster, taking the experimental feel to fresh new levels, combining a tuneful eloquence with a darkly progressive hub. Songs such as Childhood Dream and Electricity were at once both enticing yet also brooding symphonies, telling of their imaginative depth and creative turmoil. Also included in the box is the 2004 live DVD Were You There?, filmed in Poland. This does a brilliant job of capturing the essence of the band’s onstage persona. All these were released by Music For Nations, a label renowned for pushing the boundaries of rock and metal; the perfect fit for Anathema at this juncture in their career. Now, unless you offered a box set collating everything Anathema have released, you could never call any collection of theirs ‘definitive’. But Fine Days represent a crucial era in their growth, and with new sleevenotes from those involved it’s essential for all fans, especially recent converts.