Album Releases Album Reviews

Anathema – The Optimist Review

Released by: Kscope

Release Date: Out Now!!!

Genre: Prog Rock



Line Up:

Daniel Cavanagh – guitars, vocals, keyboards, bass
Vincent Cavanagh – vocals, guitars, keyboards, programming, bass
Jamie Cavanagh – bass
John Douglas – drums, keyboards, programming
Lee Douglas – vocals
Daniel Cardoso – drums



01. 32.63N 117.14W 
02. Leaving It Behind 
03. Endless Ways 
04. The Optimist 
05. San Francisco 
06. Springfield 
07. Ghosts 
08. Can’t Let Go 
09. Close Your Eyes 
11. Wildfires 
12. Back To The Start 


A change from a group’s musical style isn’t always accepting. However, some bands challenge their artistic endeavors including the recent Linkin park’s pop direction to even witnessing Opeth’s progressive melodic shift. Regardless of the spectrum, evolution happens, and one of these include the now progressive/experimental rockers Anathema. For those who are unfamiliar with this band, all you would have to do is put on the doomy ‘The Silent Enigma’ (1995) and compare it to their brand new eleventh studio record ‘The Optimist,’ which was released on June 9th via Kscope. It’s a continuation on their innovative transitions as it generates more of an electronic sound than what we have seen on their prior release, 2014’s ‘Distant Satellites.’

‘The Optimist’ was recorded during the winter of 2016 at Attica Audio in Donegal, Ireland and finished at Castle of Doom Studios in Glasgow with producer Tony Doogan (Mogwai). The concept is a continuation from 2001’s ‘A Fine Day To Exit,’ beginning exactly where it left off over fifteen years ago and following the character, The Optimist’s unresolved destiny. Additionally, he is connected through the band’s own fears and hopes, as each song plays as internal monologues.

The album kicks off with, “32.63N 117.14W,” which are coordinates for Silver Strand beach in San Diego, the last known location for the main character, shown on the cover of ‘A Fine Day to Exit.’ Following the coordinates, we hear the second track, “Leaving It Behind,’ as it opens with more of a positive outlook. The character does his best to forget the past and attempts to move forward as the guitar strings morph into expressive electronics.

A theme of doom transpires in the next, “Endless Ways,” especially with the soft piano introduction. However, electronics continue to build, reminding the listener of an early 90s soundtrack mixed with progressive interludes. The title track comes in next with captivating hooks as the piano induced tune takes the listener on a soothing jazz-esque voyage to the depths of creative evolution.

As we listen to the main characters’ escapades, the instrumental song, “San Francisco” chimes in next. The keys move at a faster pace, building an electronic landscape. We then move towards a distorted and slightly diluted mindset with the next, Springfield.” You hear traces of loss and confusion with words such as, “how did I get here,” and, “I don’t belong here.” Following the personal battle of a confused and conflicted mind, the album silently moves with “Ghosts.” It’s filled with a serene atmosphere as the keyboard enhancements continue to escalate.

The melody transpires towards a harmonic journey with the emotional tune, “Can’t Let Go.” The sadness moves within the harmonies and tranquil repetitions, setting the tone for what’s next to come. The next track could be argued as the best on the album with, “Close Your Eyes.” You can listen to this one on repeat, getting lost in the compiled mix between the eccentric atmosphere, poetic keys, and haunting vocals for hours on end. “Wildfires,” nearly closes the album; however, it will remind the listener of portions of Devin Townsend’s ‘Transcendence.’ Following the progressive energy, the final track “Back to the Start” comes in and lasts for roughly eleven minutes.

‘The Optimist’ shows Anathema’s evolved style with it being heavily electronic. Ultimately, it’s an acceptable change and only missing a handful of progressive guitar hooks. It carries out a unique sound that only Anathema can pull off, making it well worth the listen.


Written By,
Zenae Zukowski

Rating: 8/10


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