ANATHEMA @Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton 25/9/14

The world’s best doom metal turn prog band bring their Distant Satellites tour to Wolverhampton

Last time MV saw Anathema it was as a two (occasionally three) piece as the Cavanagh brothers celebrated the release of their new record in typically contrary fashion, by playing acoustic shows just for the hell of it. But then Anathema have always been a band to do whatever they pleased and hope that an audience followed, rather than the other way round.

Fast forward a few months and they are all plugged in and ready to go on a proper tour. It’s almost like a conventional rock band, that will never do!

Back in the spring we hadn’t had long to digest that new release, “Distant Satellites,” in all it’s lush, multi-faceted glory, now we have, it is another triumph from the 90’s doom/death metal band turned 2010’s prog behemoth.

There is no thought either of easing the new tracks in gently tonight, though, and the set begins with Parts one and two of “The Lost Song” – the latter of which features a brilliant crescendo (and part three comes later). Another two part epic follows in the shape of “Untouchable,” before a pulsing “Thin Air” positively broods it’s way through.

One of the key things that Anathema have done so superbly in their prog years has been to integrate Lee Douglas (who made the trio in the acoustic gigs) into the band. Her superb vocals are to the forefront throughout, particularly on the gorgeous “Ariel,” although that and pretty much everything else tonight is second best to “Anathema” (the song not the band) which forms the centrepiece of the new record and does so again here.

They end with a revved up “Closer” before a lengthy encore that includes the title track of the new record and ends with “Fragile Dreams”, their one nod to their metal past.

Styles don’t matter though, tonight’s sold out concert – one of many on this tour – proves that there will always be an audience out there for real music made from the heart. Whatever sort of music Anathema play, no one can accuse them of not meaning every single word they sing, which is exactly why for over two decades across distinctly different output they remain so important and so very, very good.