Anathema – Universal Blu Ray Review

Posted: September 24, 2013 by kingcrimsonprog in Metal, Metal - Live, Music Reviews, Prog, Prog Live, Rock, Rock Blu Ray, Rock Live

Anathema – Universal Blu Ray

Universal is a concert recording by the British band Anathema, released in 2013 on K Scope records. The concert was shot in support of the band’s Weather Systems album at the Ancient Theatre of Phillipopolis, Bulgaria on the 22nd of September featuring the Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra. The concert was shot while the band were in support of their Weather Systems album from 2012 and their setlist draws heavily from both it, and the previous two full-length studio albums We’re Here Because We’re Here and A Natural Disaster.

The performance is of a very high quality, delivering equally well on the energetic sections of songs, and the shimmering, beautiful quiet sections. The astounding vocal trio of Vincent Cavanagh, Daniel Cavanagh and Lee Douglas, both blend and then contrast their vocal styles to great effect, the rest of the musicians deliver everything with both precision and passion and the Orchestra provide colour and texture, really filling out the sound.

The mixing job is pretty much perfect and all the instruments are arguably balanced as well as they would be on a studio album, with only the added humanity felt in the vocal and drumming performances giving away that it’s a live affair.

The visuals are great, with a tasteful stage show in the beautiful ancient theatre, a subtle light show and the Orchestra to draw your eye when the band aren’t moving much. The camera work and editing is slow and musician-friendly, letting you get a good look at what people are playing rather than zooming frantically from one shot to another every second.

The track listing for the main show is as follows: ‘Untouchable Parts 1&2,’ ‘Thin Air,’ ‘Dreaming Light,’ ‘Lightning Song,’ ‘The Storm Before The Calm,’ ‘Everything,’ ‘A Simple Mistake,’ ‘The Beginning And The End,’ ‘Universal,’ ‘Closer,’ ‘A Natural Disaster,’ ‘Deep,’ ‘One Last Goodbye,’ ‘Flying,’ ‘Fragile Dreams,’ ‘Panic,’ ‘Emotional Winter/Wings Of God,’ ‘Internal Landscapes’ ‘Fragile Dreams (Reprise)’

The bonus feature included is a set of five tracks taken from the stripped down, A Night At The Union Chapel concert, the track listing for which is as follows: ‘Kingdom’ ‘Thin Air’ ‘Angels Walk Among Us’ ‘A Natural Disaster’ ‘Fragile Dreams.’ This feature is similarly well recorded, mixed and edited and no simple throw-away. There are some tracks repeated from the main feature, but their alternative, more unplugged (not completely, but close) style makes it worth having both versions.

The Blu-Ray comes in a slim case with a booklet full of photos and the credits. The visuals are NTSC. The main menu only features play and track selection options, and there are no alternative audio (or subtitle) options which may upset some viewers, however I personally was incredibly happy with the audio provided as standard. There are other editions available, for example on Burning Shed with more extensive features, such as a CD of the audio, but as a cheap and simple version of the main concert, this edition certainly delivers it.

Overall, I’m very satisfied with this well made and well performed, good looking and good sounding Blu-Ray Anathema concert, and as long as you like the band and don’t have an issue with the lack of audio options, or the setlist, then I highly recommend picking up a copy.

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