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Anathema Biography

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Anathema In-depth Biography

While Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride got more attention from underground doom metal fans, Liverpool natives Anathema were just as important in creating a new strain of doom (sometimes referred to as doom/death) that drew heavily from atmospheric goth metal and, in the early days, featured gruff death-style vocals. Guitar-playing brothers Vincent and Danny Cavanagh formed Anathema in 1990 with vocalist Darren White, bassist Duncan Patterson, and drummer John Douglas, and originally called themselves Pagan Angel. As Anathema, the band recorded a Black Sabbath/Paradise Lost-inspired demo titled An Iliad of Woes; another demo, 1991's All Faith Is Lost, and a Swiss single called "They Die" landed the group a deal with Peaceville Records. Anathema's first official recording, an EP titled The Crestfallen, was released in 1992, and followed the next year by the full-length Serenades, the most traditional doom-styled album in their catalog. After a tour, the group re-entered the studio in 1994 to record Pentecost III, a five-song mini-album that nonetheless ended up long enough to have qualified as a full-length. Delays prevented its release until the following year, by which time the group was already working on its next album. However, after recording had begun, Darren White left the group to form the Blood Divine, taking with him their sound's main connection to death metal. Vincent Cavanagh assumed lead vocal duties, with a cleaner, more accessible style that fit the newly atmospheric direction of the finished album. The Silent Enigma was released in late 1995, and began to establish Anathema as a unique presence on the underground doom scene. That impression was confirmed by their next release, 1996's heavily gothic Eternity, which featured contributions from Cradle of Filth keyboardist Les Smith. Stretching its songs into sorrowful, orchestrated epics, Eternity's Pink Floyd-ish spaciness alienated some fans of Anathema's older sound at first, but quickly proved to be their most original work to date. Drummer Douglas left the group in late 1997, and ex-Solstice drummer Shaun Steels joined the following year. Alternative 4 was released in the summer of 1998, taking a simpler, subtler, and more polished approach than its predecessor; shortly afterward, bassist Patterson left and was replaced by Dave Pybus. In 1999, original drummer John Douglas rejoined, and the group switched to the Music for Nations label. The well-received Judgement album was issued later that year. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi

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