As an ANATHEMA fan, I don’t really think I could have asked for a better album. I know that “A Fine Day To Exit” wasn’t as well received as some of their other albums were, but I did feel that it was another feather in their hat and remains an album I quite enjoy, despite it’s close proximity to RADIOHEAD territory. With that though, I’m much happier that they opted to ‘get back on track’ so to speak with “A Natural Disaster”.
Sonically, this album is much closer to “Judgment” than it’s follow-up and although not quite as perfect as “Judgment” was, it comes extremely close. Any hope that old fans would have had for ANTHEMA to return to the Metal fold have been long since extinguished, but hopefully they’ve stuck around to immerse themselves in their different, yet equally brilliant material. The music has, at least in part, gotten slightly heavier, perhaps more ‘Rock’ than their previous albums, however, all while managing to keep that warm, yet reflective, depressing element to it. This is used sparingly though, as there is a great deal of emphasis placed on atmosphere, meaning very quiet, almost minimalist parts, that lure you in, practically forcing you to strain to hear.
“Are You There” acts as a soothing, beautifully picturesque song that makes it nearly impossible to concentrate on anything, aside from the song itself. Although it’s a very quiet song, it’s incredibly involving. “Closer” is another quiet piece, although not as quiet as the track that follows it, but definitely on the quieter side of the album. It’s also starkly different from the other tracks on the disc, due to the unconventional, at least on ANATHEMA’s part, use of electronic distortion on the vocals. The vocals sound almost robotic, quality to them, layer over calm, relaxing music that feels like you’re soaking on the beach during low tide.
Perhaps I’m in the minority in thinking this, but as a whole I greatly prefer ANTHEMA’s newer material to their older works and this album only helps to solidify that opinion. Beautiful, simply beautiful. (Online March 12, 2004)