After spending the weekend overeating and over-drinking up north, I’m still not entirely sure if capping off said weekend at a show was either the best decision or the worst. The cons of this choice was that I was fairly hungover and craving Mexican food, the pro being that I got to see Anathema!
I’d only really delved into the band’s music in the past few months despite (to my eternal shame) being on my musical radar since I started listening to metal some sixteen years ago.
Anathema as an entity is a rare gem. They have existed for almost thirty years, released eleven studio albums, and have gone through a few eras in terms of their principal stylistic expression, staying relevant and thriving as they go. The night was theirs to take us on whatever musical journey they saw fit; a sold out show at l’Astral packed with people who had bought a ticket to ride.
The night’s only opening act was L.A.’s Silver Snakes, a band that seemed to exude a powerful and dark ambiance about them, blending elements of industrial and post rock that gave off somewhat of a Tool vibe to me without actually sounding like Tool. Maybe it’s singer Alex Estrada’s voice that pushes the Tool comparison, as he has a similar timbre, but with more of a rough rock style. Silver Snakes new record Saboteur is out now through Evil Ink Records.
My first proper introduction to Anathema was less than a year ago when I listened to their album Weather Systems at work. I’ll never forget it because I spent most of that listening session trying not to sob uncontrollably at my desk, and I’ve been a fan ever since. Unfortunately for me, they started their show with “Untouchable” 1 and 2, off that very record, but thankfully I was severely dehydrated and couldn’t muster any tears. Anathema’s music is incredibly moving and powerful, sticking mostly in progressive atmospheric rock and touching on their doom and goth past. Each song ebbs and flows beautifully from one to the other in their set despite being from different albums, the bulk of their set coming from their last five records specifically.
The band’s ability to stretch a section with subtle changes is hypnotic to listen to and addicting in nature. I will say that it’s a challenging concert experience, not just because of their long eighteen-song set, but by the nature of the structure of each respective track. A good majority of their songs seem to take the listener through extremes in dynamics, from soft and soothing to the most booming emotional crescendo. It almost felt like the ending of each song was the ending of the whole show. With that being said, I never felt bored and the gigantic projector playing what I assumed were visuals from music videos and other band art, made the concert experience all the more stimulating.
Written by Paul Ablaze
Photography by Michael Kovacs
*edited by Lia Davis