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Anathema - Universal (Album Review)

Friday, 11 October 2013 Written by Heather McDaid

As this DVD's opening credits twinkle into life, it’s clear that their star-spangled surroundings typify the band's boundaries - there are none, and they shoot for the sky. Over two decades into their career, Anathema don't just make music for themselves, but put on a show that fans won’t forget in a hurry.

Recorded on September 23, 2012 by the acclaimed Lasse Hoile, ‘Universal’ documents the band's performance at the ancient Roman theatre of Philippopolis, alongside the Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra.

​The recording itself is beautiful, cutting between a number of angles of the band and audience that flow cohesively. Play it on the biggest HD TV you can find, and you'll be blown away by the quality.

The band’s latest album, 'Weather Systems', was a creative peak that they had been heading towards for years, and what better way to celebrate it than with a philharmonic orchestra? Their backing really enhances Anathema’s work, with The Storm Before The Calm proving a stand out. Dreaming Light, A Simple Mistake, Deep and Flying also make notable impacts.

The main issue, though, is that it’s so professional at times that the relationship between band and audience is lost in translation. There are some moments that really show a palpable atmosphere - and when those spark, the show really surpasses all expectations - but too often it's polished and pristine. For fans, this is a must have. For those yet to be convinced, it’s unlikely to provide any moments of clarity.

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