Initially, the group was called Pagan Angel and was composed of Darren White (vocals), John Douglas (drums) and the three Cavanagh brothers, Vincent Cavanagh (guitar), Daniel Cavanagh (guitar) and James Cavanagh (bass). With this lineup, the band released their first work in November 1990, a demo called An Illiad Of Woes.
After this work, the band decided to change its name, changing its name to Anathema. Thus, the band’s first single was released, “They Die”, through a small Swiss record label, Witchhunt Records. Jamie Cavanagh left the band, giving way to Duncan Patterson, who would become one of the band’s main songwriters.
The label Peaceville Records became interested in the band, and with them, The Crestfallen EP was released in November 1992. This was followed by the release of their first album, Serenades, rooted in Doom/ Death Metal. They performed their first shows outside of England during this period, going to Belgium and Holland alongside the bands At the Gates and Cradle of Filth.
After delays, in 1995, the second EP, “Pentecost III,” appeared. The lineup was maintained until 1995, when, shortly before the recording of the album “The Silent Enigma”, vocalist Darren White left the band, with Vincent Cavanagh taking over the position. The change was not only in the band’s formation but also in the musical style.
At first, Anathema became famous for playing Doom Metal, a prominent style in the late 80s and early 90s. After “The Silent Enigma”, the band began to explore an increasingly less heavy and more melancholic sound. During the tour for this album, a show was recorded in Poland in March 1996, which became the band’s first video: “Visions of a Dying Embrace”. There were other line-up changes, but none as significant, from a sound point of view, as the departure of Darren White. Anathema continued exploring a less Metal and more progressive sound, as seen on their transition album, Eternity, 1996.
The band’s tenth studio album, Distant Satellites, was released on 9 June 2014. Distant Satellites was recorded at Cederberg Studios in Oslo, again with producer Cederberg. The cover was created by Korean artist Sang Jun Yoo.
The band released a statement about their new album ahead of its release:
“ Distant Satellites is the culmination of everything ANATHEMA. Worked exhaustively as far away from our musical journey as possible. It contains almost every element of Anathema’s “heartbeat” that our music is possible to have. There is beauty, intensity, drama, stillness, and the extra musical dimensions that the band had already hinted at in previous works. All built on the songwriting chemistry of Daniel, John and Vincent – and the haunting voice of Lee Douglas. ”
Distant Satellites received positive reviews from critics. Metacritic, which assigns a rating from 0 to 100 with reviews from mainstream critics, gave the album an average score of 80, based on ten reviews, indicating “universal acclaim”. The album ended 2014 in 9th position on Metal Hammer magazine’s best albums list.
During the “Distant Satellites” tour, the acoustic show held on March 7, 2015, at Liverpool Cathedral was recorded on video released in October of the same year on CD, DVD and Blu-Ray, with the title A Sort of Homecoming.
The latest album is The Optimist, released on June 9, 2017. With The Optimist, the band takes another firm step towards the electronic elements already implemented in previous albums
The Silent Enigma (1995)
Alternative 4 (1998)
A Fine Day to Exit (2001)
A Natural Disaster (2003)
We’re Here Because We’re Here (2010)
Weather Systems (2012)
Distant Satellites (2014)
The Optimist (2017)