Anathema formed more than 25 years ago as a death-doom band, and have slowly morphed into the alt/post/prog rock outfit they are today. Perhaps they thought their creative energies were better suited to a more endearing, melodic approach. Perhaps they acquiesced and fell into the age-old path of heavy bands eventually softening their sound. Or maybe they just realised not a great deal of students want to hear a fusion of death metal and doom metal on a night out. Whatever their reasons, the decision was the right one to have taken – eleven albums later, the band’s music sounds more clarified and elegant than ever before. Anathema are a band whose discography and average song length is probably double that of the average touring band. Is their music twice as good? That’s not for me to say – but they’re undoubtedly a spectacle to behold live. Accompanying Anathema to Phoenix at the end of the month are French blackgaze pioneers Alcest. They may not be able to boast eleven studio albums or a frontman who sings in English, but Alcest’s music is truly sublime, especially in a live setting. Last year’s Kodama was one of the most acclaimed records of the year, and it’s not hard to see why. If ever you feel the inclination to allow yourself to believe that black metal can be beautiful, Alcest are a wonderful way to go. Get yourself to Phoenix on the 29th of September for some of the most spellbinding rock and metal music Exeter is likely to see all year.
Anathema sound more clarified and elegant than ever before, says Finn Dickinson.