Download 2014: Anathema

Fighting Zombies from the safety of a big tent

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As Rob Zombie's voice drifts across the East Midlands countryside and into the altogether more genteel surroundings of the Pepsi Max stage, it's clear that this probably isn't Anathema's natural habitat.

The crowd that strained to get a long-distance view of Royal Blood an hour or so ago are free to wander quite casually to the front of the stage, and it all feels a little bit incidental.

The hardcore down the front do their best to dispel the gloom, but it’s in testing conditions like these that Anathema’s sweeping, grand songs are at their least effective. Just when you need someone to come along and pick the audience up and shake them around a little, you get a band who make you pine for a comfy sofa, a warm thermos and a decent pair of headphones. In the band’s favour, founder Daniel Cavanagh is currently sporting a terrific, Sideshow Bob-esque barnet.

Of course, they try. Thin Air is a rousing affair and Closer, which follows, starts with mournful vocoder, sweeps all before it and turns into a swirling, towering, ecstatic beast, before finally returning to the position for whence it started. Quite lovely. And it all finishes on an absolute high, as scattering, syncopated rhythms swoop and swell on the rather beautiful The Lost Song (Part 3). It’s not quite the rousing victory you might hope for, but they’ve fought well.

At least they weren’t competing against Avenged Seven’s pyrotecnics. (6) (FL)

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.