Anathema
Weather Systems

Anathema has been doing their own thing for a while now  the group’s metallic origins a distant memory  touring and serving fans with their own progressive-oriented rock music. Last year the band returned to their formative albums on the Falling Deeper full-length, re-imagining classics to fit their current, softer expression  just as they did on Hindsight four years ago. Both of those albums left me tad cold and I managed to somehow completely miss We’re Here Because We’re Here too, but luckily, after a short wait, there’s brand new material again on display. This alone makes Weather Systems hard to ignore.

Even though Anathema doesn’t deviate from their soft exploratory rock on Weather Systems, it feels as if they’ve finally found the sound and balance they’ve perhaps been unable to fully locate and apply consistently previously. They make good use of the newfound confidencenot saying they’ve ever been astrayas the band seems refreshed with the new material. While it would not be impossible to draw all sorts of shady thin lines to acts like Coldplay, 30 Seconds to Mars and various smaller acts operating in less stadium filling seas, Anathema weaves its musical history and varied influences into an entity that the band can exclusively call its own. The more you listen to Weather Systems, the more you see the distance the group has walked throughout the years but still, there’s a very strong, nuanced connection on display to the past as well.

Thus, it’s easy to say that Anathema has provided yet another solid release that resonates through a wide variety of emotions and at times sounds a lot bigger than you’d expect. While the group never seems to lose hope, tracks like the storming “The Gathering of Clouds” and perhaps the album’s most traditional piece “The Lost Child” easily prove they could churn the listener back into a much more darker corner if they so wanted. On the other hand, the group explores relatively new avenues with the 9-minute progressively growing epic “The Storm Before the Calm”, where machines reign inside a maelstrom of Katatonia-influences. The second half of the journey calms things down a bit, before throwing a very powerful moment echoing some of the past’s anguish, but instead of embracing the dark matter as they once did, the track concludes on a rather positive note instead. The follow-up “The Beginning and the End” too is another solid, emotional track that starts out softly before an ultimate resolution. Then there’s “Internal Landscape” that gives the album a cathartic conclusion, clearly recollecting the 55-minute album and finally letting go.

Weather Systems is another proof of Vincent Cavanaugh’s undeniable charisma as he wades through the drama masterfully but without suffocating the rest of the talented group  as expected. On the other hand, it’s also becoming more and more clear that Anathema acts according to what’s best for the material. There are various layers of vocals from everybody and especially Lee Douglas seems to have gained a much more prominent role on the album this time around. It doesn’t stop there either as the other Douglas, longtime drummer John, also provides a surprisingl-y thundering and hard hitting backbone. A welcomed development.

The album took me quite a while to fully sink in. For example, I’m still having a bit of a hard time with “Lightning Song” that seems a bit of a whatever-track to me and then there’s the huge issue with the first two songs. You see, Weather Systems has the catchiest opening to any album in Anathema’s history (Judgement is on par but in a different way): “Untouchable, Part 1” and “Part 2” create such a captivating whirlwind from the start that it’s next to impossible for the rest of the tracks, aside from perhaps “The Gathering of Clouds” and “The Beginning and the End” to truly live up to them. In fact, I’d go as far as claim those two tracksas oneto be the best new song I’ve heard all year. I’ve listened to the two far more many times than the whole album and I’m yet to feel any wear in them. Both tracks share a lot of traits but where “Part 1” is more rocking, “Part 2” gives gives a more serene perspective. Yet, that too explodes at the end in the best post-rock manner; an element that’s also underlying in the first. While the band is known to have quite a few catchy tunes (see “Panic”, “Empty” and “Pulled under…”) this really took me by surprise. I’m not completely confident in rationalizing the experience, but to me, the songs provided another one of those moments where you remember just how powerful music can be at its best. Consider me moved.

In the end, while Weather Systems features some of the most memorableand some of the bestmoments from Anathema in a good long time, I wouldn’t say that it is the band’s greatest achievement. I’d be lying if I did. Then again, what is and how could that even be possible? Each of the band’s releases serves a completely different purpose (for me) and each has all sorts of personal history engraved into them  just as one day the new one will. What I’ll state as a fact however, is that the new one is definitely a good addition to the group’s  discography and I’d imagine that’s all it needs to be: Weather Systems is again a strong reminder that even if the band is far from a pure metal band these days, Anathema hasn’t lost its impact or relevance one bit.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Mikko K.
May 8th, 2012

Comments

  1. Commented by: bast

    Waiting for this one to arrive!


  2. Commented by: DK777

    Amen, brother! Excellent writeup (and I’m jealous–i was going to ask about writing on this one!) that captures the magic of a band that really has shed those metal roots but still, perhaps by nature of their 180-degree turn, is in some way “extreme.”

    And if there’s no room for the sort of beautiful stuff that they do here, then something is wrong with people!

    You’re spot on with your assessment of those first two tracks. Breathtaking stuff! Cheers…


  3. Commented by: Clauricaune

    Favorite album of the year for me, so far.


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