“How did I get here? I don’t belong here…”
I have recently been listening to Anathema’s new track “Springfield” off their upcoming album “The Optimist”. When I was hearing the new song it once again reminded me of how important and relevant Anathema has been to me and my personal life. Every one of their songs found some way to affect me emotionally. The honesty and relatability found in their lyrics and music helped me through many difficult moments in my life. Anathema are one of those bands that just gets the human condition and the trials and tribulations we all go through emotionally, physically and spiritually. I can guarantee if you have no notion of Anathema that when you hear one of their songs it will immediately make you feel like they understand you. If you have ever dealt with family deaths, nasty divorces, broken relationships, spiritual conflicts and personal moments of redemption/catharsis that Anathema probably touched upon it in their extensive discography.
This band has been in my life since I was 18 years old the first album I ever bought from them is called “Judgment” when I first heard this incredibly personal album that I honestly felt that whatever feelings and thoughts I had difficulty conveying Anathema were able to make me better understand these feelings. The sincerity, sadness and honesty in this album was nothing I ever heard before. For the better part of three years “Judgment” was the soundtrack to my life at that time. I was dealing with countless bouts of despondency and had a hard time trying to understand love and relationships because I was always failing in this regard. I was confused and angry at people who didn’t get me and I was sad that my friends were in relationships and I was still left out in the cold. It was a difficult time and I couldn’t find my identity. After countless spins of “Judgment” I started getting a better understanding of these feelings and how to cope with them. Then I went further back in Anathema’s catalog and bought “Alternative 4” there was more anger and disillusionment in this album and endless questions of “why me” in my head and then as I listened I better understood why. This album fits so many moments of guilt and trying to cope with it. When things go wrong, there is always a scapegoat or someone to blame for everything. “Alternative 4” was a difficult album to get through because it helped me better understand that it was me to blame as well with my own faults and failings. I know I am not perfect and I know I have screwed things up “Alternative 4” makes you understand that regret helps you grow and that with those failings you try to become something better.
“An answer won’t come from me
Confront your own worst enemy
What does your mirror see
Is it time to face up to me?”
Anathema also touches upon the difficulties of death and the grief that follows. This could be the death of a long relationship with your lover or the death of someone dear to your life like a parent, sibling or close friend. I personally dealt with the death of my Dad, I was 21 when it happened. It was one of the hardest times in my life and made me reevaluate everything there is to evaluate about mortality. Every album of Anathema’s has songs about this incredibly sad and transformative part of life. The parallels were uncanny with my family and the Cavanagh family. Anathema is made up of 3 brothers who all lost their mother right around the same age as me and my two younger brothers. Then later on in life they lost their father, to understand these circumstances Anathema’s music has become an extension of my heart and soul. Their music has now become a super important catalyst to how I still deal with life now and the grief that comes with it when sad things happen. It goes back to the point of how relatable and honest Anathema is both lyrically and musically. And how without them I do not think I would be alive today, they made me understand that I am not alone that it will get better in time. If I was lost in my head with no outlet to vent or to have catharsis I would not get out of my head, I would just fall deeper, and deeper until there is nothing left to love in the world. Anathema’s music gave me hope, and brought light back from the dark.
“Cos no matter what I say
No matter what I do
I cant change what happened
No matter what I say
No matter what I do
I cant change what happened
No no I can’t change”
Love and the destruction of it is the final element of Anathema’s music that many can relate to. All their albums touch upon the anger, depression and frustration that occurs when a once loving relationship fails. The album that really touches upon this aspect is “A Natural Disaster” which is once again an album that eerily parallels with my own personal experience in relationships. While the album covers Danny Cavanagh’s divorce, it still is an album of the reflection, and disappointment I found in my own relationships. The lies, madness, pain and abuse I went through over the years stuck with me like a demon latching onto a helpless host. At one point I didn’t know how to break this cycle. I always felt cursed in regards to love and relationships. I gave up and still have given up today. One thing I did know is that I could rely on the music of Anathema to help me gain clarity and closure in these past hurts. After hours of driving both in the night and in the day listening to “A Natural Disaster” I better understood why relationships are good and bad, and why the pain in the bad is really bad. And why once again I wasn’t alone in these feelings. Knowing this allowed me to find peace in myself as well as well as closure. I no longer was haunted by these demons and ghosts of the past, I was able to build upon the past and look at life in a hopeful way.
Some of these moments in my life were remedied by the brilliance of Anathema’s music (and plenty of other music as well). I needed to know I wasn’t alone in these thoughts and feelings. I finally understood more about myself as well as my wants and needs. I have looked at people who touched my life in the past profoundly and found ways to keep those memories in tact because it was important to my personal growth as well as perception of the world. My life was a tired and exhausting journey and I continued to keep my headphones on and keep the volume up to help me find some semblance of salvation. I know I will go through bouts of anger, sadness and loneliness but these are all parts of what makes us human and in the end if we can keep our bearings righted that life will hopefully get easier as it goes on. Let Anathema take you on this journey as well…
“It makes me wanna cry, caught you as I floated by.
It makes me wanna cry, just another distant satellite…”
Official Page: http://www.anathema.ws/
2 thoughts on “My Journey with Anathema”
Wow man. It’s like I am reading something I would’ve written. God bless. Anathema is indeed very personal.
I was just talking to my brother about how strange it is that Alternative 4 and Judgement remain two records I still listen to regularly and get a lot of active pleasure from. Then I realized that I first purchased Alternative 4 over 20 years ago! It’s a real testament to their songcraft (even in the early days) that the emotional weight of their work hasn’t faded one bit after two decades. I can’t imagine any band replacing Anathema’s place of importance in my life.