Anathema's The Optimist: "beautiful and absorbing"

Universal prog with a heart as big as Liverpool

Cover art for Anathema - The Optimist album

You can trust Louder Our experienced team has worked for some of the biggest brands in music. From testing headphones to reviewing albums, our experts aim to create reviews you can trust. Find out more about how we review.

A thematic sequel to 2001’s A Fine Day To Exit, Anathema’s 11th studio album is every bit as beautiful and absorbing as fans have become accustomed to.

Less experimental than 2014’s fractious and melancholy Distant Satellites, The Optimist showcases the blissful chemistry that now exists within this particular line-up. There are still plenty of looped electronics and skittering beats lurking amid the sumptuous wash of multitracked guitars on the likes of Endless Ways and San Francisco, but there’s also an urgency that highlights what a great, straightforward rock band Anathema have become over the last 27 years.

Songs like opener Leaving It Behind and the fragile, forlorn Springfield are simply the latest examples of the Liverpudlians’ unerring ability to make grown men cry, those now trademark vast crescendos and moments of spectral calm still hitting the target with masterful precision.

As with most of Anathema’s records, this is one that fans of Elbow and Radiohead would love every bit as much as fans of Opeth or Marillion. The trick now is to get people to listen to the fucking thing.

Dom Lawson

Dom Lawson has been writing for Metal Hammer and Prog for over 14 years and is extremely fond of heavy metal, progressive rock, coffee and snooker. He also contributes to The Guardian, Classic Rock, Bravewords and Blabbermouth and has previously written for Kerrang! magazine in the mid-2000s.