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Anathema - Weather Systems CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

4.02 | 926 ratings

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4 stars I can empathise with those in the prog rock community that struggle to connect with the music of Anathema as it is most often very slow, understated and very melancholic - different from the more obviously complex and loud music created by the classic prog bands. However, I had no problem when I listened to this beautifully arranged album and having listened to their other albums, I believe it is their best. It may lack in terms of being diverse as most of the songs communicate a similar ambience, which may be why some people are put off. Nevertheless, this band are experts in creating the most harmonically rich chord progressions which I am a massive fan of and that's why I can never get bored when listening to this album despite the consistent ambience throughout.

The best example of such rich harmony is in the song 'The Lost Child'; the piano chords are phenomenal, fitting the darkness of the song perfectly. These rich chords act as the backbone of the song, supporting it throughout with the only thing changing being the intensity, which grows from nothing to a powerful flood of emotion. These chords, in my opinion, are so interesting to listen to that they could be repeated endlessly, and I would still never get bored ? its relentlessness makes it all the more motivating to listen to. Anathema are skilled at creating stimulating music through relentlessly exhausting single musical ideas rather than just throwing in excessive separate musical ideas that don't push the songs any further. 'Untouchable, Part 1' is an example of this as it is relentless in many ways but at the same time it is so moving. The rapid movement on the acoustic guitar is unrelenting, it drives the song forward throughout and successfully allows the climactic build to be expectantly thrilling. The chordal movement never drastically changes, but that doesn't really matter because what makes this song (and the whole album) so effective is the design of the most lyrical melodies that act as motifs not just in this song but in 'Untouchable, Part 2'. I think the second part of this song is so intelligently thought out; it uses very similar chords and musical ideas used in the first part but at the same time it feels very different, almost like an acoustic version of the first part. Anathema just know how to exhaust their musical ideas, whether that be by repeating motifs in different textural scenarios or by swapping instrumentation for the same chord progressions ? this album is so clever when you think about it carefully, the band may repeat a lot of ideas, but it is done with precision and skill. My favourite song from the album is 'Internal Landscapes'; it is an unrushed piece of music, beginning sparsely with dialogue accompanied by these elegant and dreamy keyboard sounds. Again, this song is constructed similar to the other songs on the album, building to a climax before returning to the dream like atmosphere communicated at the beginning ? the song takes you on such an emotionally charged journey.

A couple of songs on the album make an attempt to break up the similarity of the album. 'The Storm Before the Calm' is slightly more varied in terms of musical ideas and the contrast in dynamics is much greater and more sudden rather than the gradual build-ups heard in most of the other songs. At 5:35, the texture becomes completely sparse as only the guitar can be heard before other instruments are then layered in; this takes place in the middle of the song rather than just happening at the beginning like in other songs from the album. Songs like these are nice to hear as it acts as a welcome break from the identical structures of the other songs on the album. Anathema's true talent on this album is their ability to create the most memorable musical ideas that can be repeated as motifs in a variety of ways ? and somehow it never becomes boring. However, this album lacks a greater variety of sounds, as most of the songs seem to follow an ambient, melancholic approach ? all of the songs are in a minor key for example. A couple of upbeat songs would add a greater variation to the sound of the album. This album could have also done with a greater exploration of dynamics; good attempts are made in 'The Storm Before the Calm' but dynamics could easily be explored further in other songs that seem to follow the same structure. Despite these small criticisms, this album showcases the bands power of being able to create the saddest of sounds using the most gorgeous vocal and chordal harmonies and repeating lyrical motifs that never seem to grow dull no matter how often they are repeated ? I truly love this emotional rollercoaster of an album.

DominicS | 4/5 |


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