1. The formal act of consigning to damnation: a ban or curse pronounced by ecclesiastical authority; an excommunication.
Misc. biblical references: Judith 16: 23; Matthew 26: 74; Mark 14: 17; Acts 23: 12-14; Romans 9: 3; 1 Corinthians 12: 3, 16:22; Galatians 1: 8- 9.

2. Anything accursed, or consigned to damnation; anything detested or reviled. Generally used as a predicate nominitive: X is anathema to Y.
See also bête noire, leper, pariah, preterite, reprobate.

3. Any strong denunciation, curse or imprecation.

Hence anathematize or -ise:

1. (trans) to pronounce an anathema upon; to denounce, curse or execrate something.

2. (intrans) To curse strongly.

Derived forms: anathematization, anathematizer.

Etymology: C16 Church Latin anathema, sentence of excommunication or excommunicated person, from Greek, 'a thing devoted', later an accursed thing; from anatithenai, to dedicate, to set up a votive gift; ana- + tithenai, to set.

Anathema are a band from Liverpool, England. They formed in 1990 under the name Pagan Angel. Along with countrymates Paradise Lost (a decisive early influence) and My Dying Bride, they became known as one of the "big three" bands in what was called the British school of doom/death metal. Musically fusing the low-tuned guitars and deep growling vocals of death metal with the despondent atmospheres and slow pace of classic doom artists like Candlemass, these bands wove sophisticated musical tapestries that, in their extreme heaviness and haunting beauty also owed to early pioneers of avant-garde metal Celtic Frost.

For their lyrics and imagery, Anathema discarded horror and satanism in favor of the kind of poetic romanticism present in the works of Shelley and Byron. The exquisite artwork used in album covers and the mournful lyrics about love and death contribute to convey a sense of total desolation.

The band's line-up has changed over the years, with vocalist Darren White being kicked out of the band just before the recording of the second full-length album. Bassist and songwriter Duncan Patterson left the band some years later too, leaving the Cavanagh brothers as Anathema's main creative force.

With each successive album, the band have gradually lost their initial metallic edge and have evolved to a melodic rock approach. However, the band have kept their characteristic emotional intensity intact.

CD discography:

  • The Crestfallen (Peaceville 1992). The band at their slowest and heaviest. Elegant, monolithic riffs support lachrymose melodies while Darren White delivers the lyrical content in grievous, guttural cries. The third song, Everwake, is a stunning acoustic piece with ethereal female vocals that departs from the majestic doom/death style of the rest of the EP.
  • Serenades (Peaceville 1993). While essentially keeping the same style of the Crestfallen EP, new musical elements were combined with the excruciatingly slow, harmonic rhythms and sorrowful melody. This album incorporates some orchestral arrangements and its more upbeat songs like Sleepless add overall diversity. Guest female vocalist Ruth displays once again her angelic voice in J'ai Fait Une Promesse. More varied that its predecessor, Serenades keeps the doomy, melancholic heaviness while announcing further progression.
  • Pentecost III (Peaceville 1995). This is a mid-length release featuring five songs. More progressive and ambitious than the last album, the music here has an epic, flowing quality. Opener Kingdom starts quietly and slowly builds up to an utterly colossal ending. The band's sound is still very heavy, but a bit different and not as harsh as before.
  • The Silent Enigma (Peaceville 1995). Originally entitled Rise Pantheon Dreams, but as vocalist Darren was kicked out of the band just before the recording sessions, all the lyrics had to be rewritten in the studio. Vincent Cavanagh had never sung before, and his vocals were impressive despite their immaturity (or perhaps because of it), ranging from haunting throaty screams to a semi-spoken wail reminiscent of Tom G. Warrior (Celtic Frost). These darkly melodic songs are probably the most dynamic material the band has ever written, combining quiet atmospheric orchestrations with moments of blistering metallic intensity. This album stands as a monumental conclusion of the band's doom metal phase, blending monstrous heaviness with fragile beauty like few others have been able to do.
  • Eternity (Peaceville 1996). Many fans of the band were shocked to hear Anathema's new musical direction. Influenced by the likes of Pink Floyd (of whom they include a cover version), the album featured lots of acoustic guitar work, dreamy keyboards and clear vocals all the way. Although the new sound was softer than anything they had ever done before, there were some intense moments to be found.
  • Alternative 4 (Peaceville 1998). The band continues moving towards mainstream music with this album. The songs are shorter and have a more contemporary feel than the out of time, reverie-like soundscapes of the past. One song goes as fas as using electronic drum loops.
  • Judgement (Music For Nations 1999). In their first album after moving to a bigger record label, the band consolidated their style in a musically heavier and more consistent recording than the preceding one. Vincent's voice sounds more confident than ever before and the music is very melodic, honest and emotional. Critics acclaimed the album both in the metal scene and outside of it.
  • A Fine Day to Exit (Music For Nations 2001). In this album the band tried more electronic experimentation, and a strong Radiohead influence became evident. Reviews were mixed this time, the album was more upbeat than the preceding ones. Long time fans missed the doomy melancholy (still present, but to in lesser extent) of the band's earlier output.

A*nath"e*ma (#), n.; pl. Anathemas (#). [L. anathma, fr. Gr. anything devoted, esp. to evil, a curse; also L. anathma, fr. Gr. a votive offering; all fr. to set up as a votive gift, dedicate; up + to set. See Thesis.]


A ban or curse pronounced with religious solemnity by ecclesiastical authority, and accompanied by excommunication. Hence: Denunciation of anything as accursed.

[They] denounce anathemas against unbelievers. Priestley.


An imprecation; a curse; a malediction.

Finally she fled to London followed by the anathemas of both [families]. Thackeray.


Any person or thing anathematized, or cursed by ecclesiastical authority.

The Jewish nation were an anathema destined to destruction. St. Paul . . . says he could wish, to save them from it, to become an anathema, and be destroyed himself. Locke.

Anathema Maranatha (#) (see 1 Cor. xvi. 22), an expression commonly considered as a highly intensified form of anathema. Maran atha is now considered as a separate sentence, meaning, "Our Lord cometh."

© Webster 1913.

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