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Anathema - Weather Systems CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

4.03 | 870 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Here comes the sun

While Anathema did release an album of re-recordings in 2011, 'Weather systems' contains their first collection of new material since 'We're here because we're here' in 2010. The core line up has been pared back a bit since that album, but the personnel remain effectively unchanged, with Jamie Cavanagh having a cameo role and Les Smith's keyboard duties being absorbed by Vincent and Daniel Cavanagh.

Produced by Vincent and Daniel along with Christer-Andr' Cederberg, the emphasis here is on emotion, melody and musicianship. On all three counts, it delivers in the proverbial bucket-loads.

The opening 'Untouchable' is nominally in two parts, but in reality it is an 11+ minute song which opens with acoustic guitar and builds to two wonderful crescendos. If we wish to be picky here, we can get tied up in the 'is it prog?' debate, a discussion which could be had about the album as a whole. The fact is though that regardless of genre, this is a truly magnificent opening piece, charged to the brim with emotion and supreme melody. There is hypnotic repetition at times which swings towards post rock, but the infectious hooks make the track an instant winner aimed at a much wider audience. What is noticeable, especially in part 2, is the more prominent role afforded to (female singer) Lee Douglas that pulls the band even further from the acquired taste nature of their earliest days.

The first of the 'Weather systems' is the distant thunder which introduces 'The Gathering of the Clouds', a semi-acoustic harmony piece which features Spanish style guitar (a bit like that on 'Question' by the Moody Blues). The song merges into the following 'Lightning Song', for me the only weaker section of the entire album. It is not a bad song, just a bit uninspired. Things quickly get back on track though with the fine 'Sunlight', which blends post rock with Coldplay to create a captivating piece which builds throughout.

The nine minute 'The Storm Before the Calm' written by John Douglas is the only song on the album not written by the Cavenagh brothers. Here, the influence of the band's touring partners Porcupine Tree can be detected in the use of guitar driven theatrics and distorted vocals. This is certainly the most obscure and experimental of the tracks on the album, but even here the band retain their discipline throughout the apparent chaos.

'The Beginning Of The End' returns us to the soft melodics that distinguish the album. Once again, the track builds from a quiet beginning through emotion charged vocals to a climactic conclusion. 'The Lost Child' is something of a mini-epic, the underlying piano base supporting a pained vocal and sympathetic arrangement. The album closes with the 9 minute 'Internal Landscapes', a beautiful quasi-classical number which returns us to earth with true grace. The spoken word section is slightly reminiscent of 'Voyage 34' while the vocal section takes us back to the second part of 'Untouchable'.

Overall, another superb album from this great band. While in musical terms Anathema are probably moving into more mainstream territories with each album, there is no denying the strength of the melodies, the musicianship and indeed the the songwriting.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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