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Anathema - Weather Systems CD (album) cover



Experimental/Post Metal

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5 stars I really thought Anathema's last album "We're Here Because We're Here" was their best to date. Pretty impressive for a band that's been around for over 20 years and I usually think that once a band has reached that height, for me, they don't get any better. Well well, I think this may be BETTER!

It's early days, but the lushness of the last album is there in bucket loads and so are the melodies and they're sounding more impassioned thank ever with songs that really build to a climax, just listen to the opening track - one of their best.

After all these years, the song writing component of Anathema is firing strong! They still retain the darkness of their roots, but now it's married with a beautiful orchestral melancholy. A masterpiece, again.

Report this review (#727064)
Posted Saturday, April 14, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars A Weak Autumn (5/10)

Ok, so this album have 102 ratings and only one review? For those not familiar with anathema they passed through a "silent" period from 2004 with " A natural desaster" until 2010 with the dubious "We're here because we're here". The transition on this "silent" period is drastic. Gone is the touching hopelesness, the depressive mood. The new (WHBWH) anathema was in a happy world, there was a sense of reconstruction after the storm, an overly positive message. Their previous album were like "ok, your're happy now, your're free now but you really have to be so cheesy to express that?"Yes! In my humble opinion Anathema crossed a thin line wich they walked above even in the metal epoch: the cheesy feelings. Someone who always complains about don't last to much before gets boring but Anathema crossed the cheesy bord just a few times, but un the last album it was inevitable, with a somewhat AA speech (saved, light, new horizons). So this is Wather systems, a perfect follow up album, filled with cheerful moments. The fist song repeats "And my love will never die/and my feelings will always shine"! Really guys? But it gets better, on "the storm before the calm" they cry "Never, never, never, never ever, never leave you I will, I will, always, always be here for you". Only one word: cheesy. This album is filled with empty love words and promisses, as if they revisited their metal albuns and shout "we're not like that anymore". Ok, it's good to grow up but they had quite mature albuns like "A natural desaster" and a fine day to exit", both lyrically and musically. Here we got a bunch of teenager love mixed with a quite generic post rock, at last a lttle bit more diversificated from "WHBWH" (wich rested upon a positive "wall of sound" with many melodies alogether and no coherence), but nothing more than dozens of other post-rock bands has'nt done better. The songs are very similar and previsible, except for "Internal Landscapes", wich put all the elements on the album (acoustic guitars, wall of sounds, vocal constrasts, build ups) in a perfect flow. Other good moments of the album are "Untouchable, Part 1", that introduces us to every single element that we'll hear though the whole album and "The beggining and the end". If "WHBWH" was the summer (a bright sun in the cover, all the metaphores of light), this is autumn, still cheerful but slower, mellower, a little bit more cohesive (Steven Wilson done a 5 stars work here), but still missing consistence, that incredible soundwriting that always flew from the Cavanagh-Dougas brothers. I hope winter brings something really powerful from them. 2,5 stars rounding 3.

Report this review (#742661)
Posted Monday, April 23, 2012 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
5 stars 'Weather Systems' - Anathema (9/10)

Going back around this time two years ago, I remember first listening to ANATHEMA's 'We're Here Because We're Here' and finding myself surprised. It wasn't that it was some great leap of quality that startled me- in fact, I had loved their previous album 'A Natural Disaster'. Where ANATHEMA caught me off guard was the tone, or 'mood' of the music. In the several year cooldown period between their seventh and eighth records, Anathema had inverted their trademark dreariness for something that sounded much more fresh than it admittedly should have; a sense of optimism. This more harmonious, hope-filled approach is continued on 'Weather Systems'. Like all great sequels, this one builds upon the previous work's strengths in every way, solving many of the last record's problems as a result. In the end, 'Weather Systems' does not stand only as a successful maturation of the style cultivated on 'We're Here Because We're Here', but one of the brightest moments this band has ever experienced.

Like 'We're Here Because We're Here', the resurrected ANATHEMA's sound is accessible, but in more of an ambient, rather than a 'pop' sense. To elaborate on this, the music enjoys rich orchestrations and ambitious structure, yet ultimately demands little from the listener, save for an openness to emotional suggestion. In truth, by progressive rock standards, the compositions are straightforward, but complexity has never been an aim for ANATHEMA. 'Weather Systems' is an album that would be nothing without its melody and vast atmosphere, and both are supplied in overwhelming quality.

Christer-André Cederberg gives ANATHEMA their greatest production job yet, correcting the somewhat treble-centric Steven Wilson mix of the last. The instrumentation benefits the most from the production quality, with many subtleties in the mix that won't get noticed by the average earphone or computer speaker set. Although ANATHEMA have all but absolved themselves of their metal leanings at this point, the music is far from mellow, often with many things going on at once. Somehow though, ANATHEMA never demand anything of the listener, and no matter how lush the string section or vocal harmonies get, 'Weather Systems' remains an album that instantly lets the listener fly.

It takes barely a minute into the gorgeous first segment of 'Untouchable' to know what 'Weather Systems' is all about. The album takes no time to get going, quickly pulling in a listener with a slick acoustic fingerpicking idea, courtesy of guitarist Danny Cavanagh. Vincent Cavanagh's vocals are soft at first, but as the rest of the band comes into play, a cinematic intensity is built until the point where it's damned near impossible to resist the emotional power of it. Although the orchestration is at times mindboggling, the true highlight of ANATHEMA remains the beautiful vocal work and accompanying melodies. In a nearly hyperbolic contrast from the doom-n-gloom 'Alternative 4' and earlier, there is nary a dreary word sung by any of the band's three vocalists. More than ever before, ANATHEMA focus in on harmonies in the vocals, and it works perfectly with the equally vast instrumentation. On a less positive note, the lyrics are not particularly engaging, generally falling upon credos of optimistic imagery and the recurring motif of nature, as reflected by the album's title. For what it's worth, the lyrics do work for the soaring sound of the band, and when they don't, it's not enough to detract from the rich atmosphere the rest of the music has created.

'The Gathering of the Clouds' continues where 'Untouchable' left off, without much of a noticeable gap between the two. Comparing natural imagery to a state of mind, ANATHEMA veer the album down a more melancholic route, all the while putting an even greater emphasis on vocal harmony and counterpoint. Within three minutes, ANATHEMA have worked enough orchestrations into the song that they could have fed a song twice its length. 'Lightening Song' plays on the momentum, but reins the intensity in a little, leaving it to Lee Douglas' gorgeous voice to reclaim the feeling of serenity. Lodged in the middle of the album, 'Sunlight' is arguably the least memorable track on the album, keeping the mood and orchestrations consistent and enjoyable, yet failing to add any new surprises to the already-magnificent string of songs so far.

Besides the five minute, 'single-worthy' tune 'The Beginning And The End', the second half of 'Weather Systems' is left up to longer-form compositions. Having found myself pretty damned disappointed by the so-called 'epics' on 'We're Here Because We're Here', I had my apprehensions when I got to this point in the album the first time around, and while 'The Storm Before The Calm' does not enjoy the same stirring melodies as those that came before, the atmosphere and sonic beauty are just as strong and beautiful. 'The Storm Before The Calm' does feel as if it could use a minute's shortening, but in fairness, the piece may have been best cut in two, with the first track comprising the trance-like rhythm built up over the course of five minutes, and the second devoted to the refreshing return-to- form ANATHEMA use to wrap up the piece.

'The Beginning and the End' sees 'Weather Systems' following an increasingly dark path, with one of the band's most memorable guitar ideas driving the song along. Although the song is surprisingly based around a single idea, it never feels tired, constantly building up in intensity until its climax. Finally, 'Weather Systems' arrives at my absolute favourite track off the album. Although at least one person I have talked to about the album has cited it as one of their least favourite tracks, 'The Lost Child' holds some of the most beautiful melodies I have ever heard. The piano plays softly and simply, and the introspective melancholy is reminiscent of the same dreary atmosphere Radiohead often evokes. The string section that has been so far lodged in the background is thrust to the forefront, and by the piece's devastating zenith around the five minute mark, there's little to do but sit in emotional shock and awe. Admittedly, the climax's dramatic beauty is offset a bit by the vocals milking the repetition of the words 'save me' towards the end (when you listen, you'll understand), but it's an easy flaw to look past in light of the rest of 'The Lost Child's quivering beauty.

'Internal Landscapes' ends what I consider to be the album of the year thus far on a somewhat mixed note. Although the pleasant ambiance ultimately builds up into a song, it feels as if 'Weather Systems' may have been better with the same concise melodic brilliance that defined the early half of the album. Instead, the first few minutes plod softly along, with some spoken word sample concerning life-after-death and redemption playing overtop. Although the rock-centric meat of 'Internal Landscapes' offers 'Weather Systems' a just and powerful ending, the sparse moments of 'Internal Landscapes' where so little is happening is the only time I would daresay I feel bored when listening to the album. Normally, this less-than-climactic finale would rob an album of being called a masterpiece, and while 'Weather Systems' doesn't see ANATHEMA quite reaching an inhuman perfection with their music, the significant proportion where the music does become inhumanly perfect is reason enough to give it the highest recommendation. Although ANATHEMA do not challenge the listener with this music, they excel at doing what music is most meant to do; evoke emotion. It's easy to say that music is emotional, but when listening to an album can change someone's mood so profoundly, it's reason enough to call it something special.

Report this review (#743570)
Posted Tuesday, April 24, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars I'm not sure why this album has so few reviews at this point. It's rare for me to obtain an album and listen to it over and over; it maybe happens two or three times per year, and "Weather Systems" is definitely one of those.

Anathema has been among my favorite bands for about 10 years. It was "Judgement" which first attracted me to the band along with "Sleepless" off their first album. I must admit I'm not as much a fan of their albums "A Natural Disaster" and "A Fine Day to Exit", but I'll still listen to them now and then and there's some good stuff to be found on them.

"We're Here Because We're Here" in 2010 was a step up, and I'm especially a fan of "A Simple Mistake", but it never caught on for me like this album. "Untouchable, Part 1" in a great opener with a little bit more energy than they have been displaying on their previous three efforts. "Untouchable, Part 2" is its counterpart, providing the ambient sound Anathema is so good at.

"Lightning Song" is also a highlight for me with a calm first half building into a somewhat hard- rocking 2nd half with great female vocals. I suppose I like the heavier stuff they produce, but I appreciate it more when it's done in moderation.

My favorite track on the album is "Storm Before the Calm". The first half is a ridiculously catchy bass-driven groove that could be the soundtrack for a Tom Cruise movie, but it's much better than that. The 2nd half ties it all together and the line, "this is [%*!#]ing insane" is perhaps the highlight of the whole listening experience.

The final three songs have a hard time living up to "storm" but are all equally melodic and beautiful in their own right. The album closer, "Internal Landscapes" features a monologue by a man with a near death experience followed by an appropriately peaceful closer where if I close my eyes I feel like I'm flying over the Himalayas. Anathema's music has that effect at its peak and this whole album reaches it over and over. I can't rate it anything less than a masterpiece.

Report this review (#743906)
Posted Tuesday, April 24, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars It's somewhat hard to give this album the full five stars, but the fact that almost every second of this album is sonic beauty, lush and gorgeous, makes it difficult to consider it anything less. And even those seconds that are not beautiful serve as bridges, sound bridges if you will, that unite the listenter and the beauty. The only thing bringing this album down is that it is perhaps too repetitive, lyrically and musically; however, if you are anything like me, that's not a problem. It's the type of repetition that works, that puts you in a trance, but in this case a state of, well not necessarily enlightenment, but a state of enlightenment with a fair dose of mind- blownage. The music really helps you soar, it'd be scary to close your eyes and open them--you'd think you are in the sky. And that is due to the repetition. One little part is not going to draw you in as well as repetition, and at least they are repeating something worth listening to. So for that, 5 stars.

The first song begins with an absolutely delicious fingerpicking guitar bit that it builds off of all the way through. Maybe Anathema are not extremely progressive in terms of composition (like dream theater) but rather in terms of structure. The way they take a few notes and build so much off of that is perhaps the trademark of this band. On top of that, you can tell the musicians are very talented and have no problem painting this beauty with some brushes of complexity.

Almost every song works like this, but some gorgeous sections of the orchestra are blended in beautifully here and there, or a unique instrumental surprise comes along, as the guitar does towards the end of Lightning Song (a truly beautiful surprise, you can feel the surge of energy.)

Lastly, the utilization of lush, beautiful female vocals (Lee Douglas) make the lyrics even more resonant. On paper, the lyrics look repetitive and perhaps not to the usual Anathema standard--too lovey dovey at times actually. But the way they are sung makes you feel them rather than just interpret them, giving them a fresh new meaning. And it's not like they are bad, they're actually very beautiful. And I must say, sometimes you look at life and realize it is f***ing insane, as is it's so uncomprehendable it's beautiful, and when that particular lyric comes up here on this album, you get that overwhelming feeling of beauty.

Overall this album is tranquil with some "stormy" moments, but beautiful stormy moments. It embeds itself into your thoughts and feelings and creates a halcyon atmosphere for you to relax and appreciate life in.

The Mind-Blowingly Beautiful: there are SO SO SO many, but a personal favorite is the guitar wailing during the solo of The Beginning of the End. The Mind-Blowingly Insane: "This is f***ing insane" seems to fit the bill here! The Mind-Blowingly Unexpected: the guitar busting in towards the end of Lightning Song.

Report this review (#744311)
Posted Wednesday, April 25, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is like a French XO! The sonic experience is extraordinary and combined with the musicality of these guys and the excellent songwriting, the album is a unique combination of immediate attraction and a grower. The vocals are probably the best in prog today and I cannot see any weak points expect for maybe missing some madness but then again, the album is not meant for madness. It's pure silky and medicine for the soul and heart. Have we now seen the best of them? Most likely not but until next time take a seat and enjoy the musical journey.2012 looks to be a great year!
Report this review (#745319)
Posted Friday, April 27, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars A great follow up to WHBWH, very easy to listen to with mostly simple compositions (except for storm before the cloud). Most of the songs start slowly and build up to a cresecendo, dropping back at the end of the song. The lyrics and themes are still a little dark and emotional but cheerier than previous works and the music is similar (but evolved) to previous Anathema albums, with good production values, so if you liked their previous recent works you will like this album.

Untouchable part 1 has male vocals, with part 2 switching to female and essentially a continuation of part 1. The Gathering of Clouds is a strong song, more uptemp that Untouchable and it draws you along with the tempo, probably the best track on the album. Lightning goes back to a slower pace, building as the song progresses, similar to Untouchable. Sunlight is a middle of the road track and not as catchy as first tracks.The storm before the calm is a little different to the other tracks, in that it is a more complex peice and in the middle breaks out like a cross between Pendulum and Pure Reason Revolution, and the last part of the track is reminiscent of earlier Anathema works. The Beginning and the End is structured as a single and a little more mainstream accessible, with a nice guitar solo towards the end as the song slowly winds down. The lost child is a quieter track and a bit melancholy. Internal landscapes is also quiet & ambient with a voiceover of a near death experience (which goes on a little too long) at the start & finish, a little like Sunlight and not as catchy as other songs on this album.

So far the best album I have for 2012 (albeit Anathema are one of my favourite prog bands) and should be a contender for the 2012 top list.

Report this review (#749408)
Posted Saturday, May 5, 2012 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
2 stars Only 2 years since its predecessor, 'Weather Systems' finds Anathema again in the light-atmospheric pop mode of 'We're Here Becaus We're Here'. Only this time they fell off the wrong side of that delicate balance between gentle melodic calmness and syrupy dullness.

The album is neatly divided in two halves, a first half containing some of the most mellow cheese that you are likely to find in my music collection, with each song an identical twin of the previous one, consisting of lame melodies that are endlessly repeated were it not for the formulaic swelling of 'intensity' (volume) near the end of each song. Pathetic, this is third rate Coldplay plagiarism dressed up with all post-rock cliches that have been in vogue over the last decade. Cavanagh's whiny vocals are a challenging listen already, but a big portion of the vocal duties have been granted to female vocalist Lee Douglas, who's been with the band since forever but who had never been allowed to contribute such poor and so much vocals yet. Of course; having to work with such cheap melodies can serve as an excuse for her performance somewhat.

Then, 25 minutes into the album the band finally produces something that calls for more attentive listening. The first half of 'The Storm Before The Calm' surprises with some upbeat electro-rock that reminds me of Pure Reason Revolution. The second half of the song has little to do with the first part and returns to the cringe pop of the first half hour. Some more relief follows with 'The Beginning at the End', which is an acceptable pop ballad. Halfway in we get the expected rise of volume and pathos. 'The Lost Child' is my favorite bit of the album, very minimal and with a nice warm mellow vibe. At least for the first 4 minutes after which the song should have ended, but they deemed it necessary to insert another ridiculous crescendos to spoil the momentum. Anyway, after being overexposed to the mediocrity of most of the material anything is a relief. The album ends with the 9 minutes 'Internal Landscapes', a stunning example of the total lack of creativity that has befallen on this band. Can it get more formulaic then this?

I didn't expect much and I'm still disappointed. With an almost surgical precision, Anathema have stripped their style of everything that made them so authentic and unique in their first decade. What's left is sterile emo pop, packed in a sterile post-rock guise. Even the boring new-age artwork is better then the most of music. Luckily there's 'The Lost Child' that saves this album from total disaster. Still, this is the kind of fake-emotic muzak that depresses me.

Report this review (#750208)
Posted Monday, May 7, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars 9.5/10

Anathema's proposal and terms of musicianship remains a delightful and impressive blend of post-alternative rock / atmospheric / progressive. However it is a terrible mistake to categorize Anathema as a pop-rock, band because their music goes way beyond that. Ok, there is not much complexity in terms of composition, and all the songs follow the same struture, but it is necessary to recognize its undeniable ability to engage the listener in the atmosphere created by his music.

The structure in question is that all the songs start quietly and grow larger until it reaches explosive climaxes before returning to the final moments of peace (some songs make it more subtle, in others it is more evident). It is practically the same as his predecessor had done, but would be another mistake to say that the albums are too similar. Where WHBWH album was a bright, positive and somewhat happy Weather Systems is a much more melancholy and experimental. There is little emphasis on some elements used previously in the bands that are actually very welcome: the acoustic guitar and the distinctive and beautiful voice of Lee Douglas.

We started in Untouchable, pts. I and II. I think they are my favorite moments of the album. I really can not forget what is being done here! These two songs, although such opposite moods, complement each other brilliantly. Then we have another junction: the short but amazing The Gathering of Clouds (God, I really love those vocal harmonies!) And simple Lightning Song, sung by Lee Douglas. Then comes Sunlight, where the characteristic of "accumulation" is most evident, and so the first part of the album ends.

First part? Yes Like the previous album Weather Systems is divided into two distinct sections, and this one is more experimental. This is evident from the epic The Storm Before the Calm, my other favorite here. The first half clashes of the sound that the band has done in recent years: is a section Electronic / Gothic (do not know why but this reminds me Phideaux) and scary! However from the four-minute music changes the environment completely, to reveal a true song Anthema, epic as they never were. The next song is The Beginning and the End, the single from album, but I must say that what is here does not impress me, it's not a song neither good nor bad, nothing outstanding. The Lost Child and Internal Landscapes form the climax of the album, like Universal/Hindsight of WHBWH, but are more subtle in their intent, closing the album perfectly majestic.

Therefore, I can only give you a 5 star rating. Anathema is evolving more and more in his new sound, and I am a declared fan of what they are doing. With Weather Systems they only solidify its position as one of the best names in progressive rock / experimental in recent times.

Report this review (#750437)
Posted Monday, May 7, 2012 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Prog Specialist
2 stars Not remotely what I expected from a Prog album with such favorable reviews

Before I start writing, I must say that I'm not a fan of Experimental Post Metal and even when I have some weakness for two related bands like FANTOMAS and MR BUNGLE, would had never dreamed on buying an ANATHEMA, but a friend recommended Weather Systems in the forum as a very good melodic/experimental Prog album, so I took the risk and bought the MP3 version.

When the nice guitar intro of Untouchable Part 1 started, I believed this album promised a lot, but as the song advanced, the music turned more watered and oriented towards Pop/Alternative. If I buy a Post Metal related album I expect some experimental and innovative sounds, but this song is melodical adult oriented Pop. I can't deny that Vincent Cavanagh has an excellent voice and that the female vocalist (Lee Douglas) is also good, but together sound like a festival ballad duo. Except for a few guitar moments, the song was disappointing.

When I believed that things couldn't go worst, came Untouchable Part 2, which is an even more syrupy and watered version of the previous track, the 5:33 minutes of the song seemed endless and absolutely boring despite the nice piano...To be sincere, I don't have a clue how can anybody call this Experimental, when it's the most boring example of alternative poppy ballad that you can expect from COLDPLAY in a bad day, but never from ANATHEMA.

At least this was the end of two tracks with the same name, maybe a Pop/Alternative experiment, so i believed that The Gathering of the Clouds and Lightning Song would be stronger and more interesting, but I was wrong, both songs are more of the same, not even the good orchestration and vocal work can totally save this tracks from oblivion, simply nice but some of the most un-transcendental musical pieces I heard since More Fool Me.

When Sunlight started I was falling asleep, at least until the mark of the 2:30 minutes when it starts to increase in power and interest, at last they give signs of life, sadly when the song keeps going "in crescendo" I expected a climatic explosion that never occurred, despite this problems, is the best song I heard in the album at this point.

When I read The Storm Before the Calm, sounded as the name of a powerful song, but except for a couple interesting an explosive passages, the basic atmosphere and mood doesn't change, I find absolutely no experimentation at all , but must admit it's slightly better than Sunlight so it's an advance.

But when things were starting to get interesting The Beginning and the End returns the album to the boring "balladesque" Pop mood in which started, maybe a bit louder but not better. But when all my expectations are lost again, listened The Lost Child, by far the best song from the whole album, simple but deep and mysterious, a last some interesting material that saves the album from a lonely star. Specially because the closer Internal Landscapes is another disappointing alternative/Indie song that brings no interest.

Before I rate Weather Systems, must say that it's not a bad album, the music is nice and the musicians are pretty good, but it's not remotely what I expected from an Experimental /Post Metal band,I found no experimentation nor any Post Metal, just many cute ballads with some good moments.

Now, the big question is...which is the most appropriate rating for ANATHEMA'S latest release?

I believe we are talking about a cute album with a few outstanding moments, but not unique or even remotely transcendental, so an average rating of 2.5 would be perfect, but as we know, Prog Archives system doesn't admit half stars so I have to go with 2 or 3.

Being that I gave 3 stars to albums like ELP's debut, Seconds Out and GLASS HAMMER's On to Evermore, which are superior and much more representative of Prog, I have no other option than rating Weather Systems with 2 stars.

Report this review (#751194)
Posted Wednesday, May 9, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars 7/10

"Weather Systems" is a well organized collection of (occasionally) gorgeously stunning pieces of music.

'"We're Here Because We're Here" was an almost drastic change in direction for former Doom Metal band Anathema; this band had released for over a decade music that incorporated progressively smaller amounts of Metal influences, and had gone towards a cleaner, more Alternative Rock/Progressive rock type of path. But the 2010 release was the most peaceful and softest album yet by the band; it contained beautifully enlightening songs, had a wonderful flow, and was simply a delight to listen to all the way through. "Weather Systems", two years later, attempts to do the same thing, and, while it is successful in many ways, it doesn't quite live up to the sheer bliss of "We're Here Because We're Here".

I personally doubt Anathema would get any quieter than this: this album is in many ways a sort of WHBWH 2.0: the production is the same, the atmospheres barely change, the melodies are still haunting, melodramatic, and emotional. They are some undeniable changes that can be heard, like the massive presence of the acoustic guitar, and a heavier use of electronics in some spots. But, other than that, the album doesn't bring anything new up to the table.

This would usually annoy me, when an album is simply a photocopy of another release by the same band (or different band), but the songs themselves are for me a huge saving grace: even though the two parts of "Untouchable" that open the album are a little generic, the best moments can be found in the dead center of the album; "The Gathering Of The Clouds", "Lightning Song" and "Sunlight" to me are the most precious achievements the album accomplished; there are heavy Alternative Rock influences in all of these tracks, especially in the hauntingly memorable melodies, but their surrounding aura is undeniably Progressive. "The Storm and the Calm" though is a disappointment, especially the first part of it, where the main hooks don't appeal to me at all. The song runs for nine minutes, and is admittedly very well structured, something you realize when the second part of the song kicks in, but those first couple of minutes are hard to forgive. Even though "The Lost Child" has some nice and delicate tones, it is at times a little too melodramatic, but that is compensated by the final track, "Internal Landscapes", a very strong ending to the album that brings up and seals some reoccurring concepts in an even more explicit way, thanks to the presence of a sample of a man who narrates how he faced a near-death experience,e and found the light consequently; but the song itself also has a very bright, illuminated feel, more than a few of some tracks here.

"Weather Systems" fails only in one thing, which is attempting to distance itself from it's predecessor. Despite a few weaker songs, this Anathema album contains some really pleasurable songs (which is to be expected from this band) and overall, manages to keep the attention of the listener always in sync, a talent that isn't natural for many musicians. But because of the overall accessible nature of these mellow, emotional tracks, Anathema accomplish the task seemingly without much effort.

Report this review (#760003)
Posted Monday, May 28, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars For the past 8 to 10 years...Anathema has been making music that has really been a unique statement of art and pure emotion. Now there past 2 albums (A Natural Disaster & We're Only Here Because We're Here) have been 2 very different albums, but still are 2 of my favourite albums, probably ever because they tap into 2 different psyches withing my musical and emotional palette. So in order to make me as interested again...this new album had to do something different in order to make me interested...and let me say...this is something different...and I am very interested.

In fact it's a bit more than that. I LOVE THIS ALBUM. Never before has an album grabbed my attention more and affect me in such a way, especially with the fist listen.

This band just seems to grow and grow, and with every album, they blow me away. When looking at this band's past, it's hard to imagine that they would end up here (mainly due to their Doom Metal starting). This album prooves that music is still an important art form.

The album has similar moments as We're Only Here Because We're Here, especially with the beautiful moments, but it seems that the emotional side of the previous album has been blown up to a proportional size in order to be marvelled and understood.

Now the album is a concpet album based on a relationship and the different emotional aspects within one. Now I mean it...this is perfect emotion for this album. The lyrics are very basic, but they don't seem cliche'd because they are so simple, yet they perfectly describe every bit of emotion that they are trying to convey.

The line up has changed slightly, where Les Smith has left. Now the band has always confused me a bit, because of Lee Douglas, who performs vocals on every album and tours with the band, but never really seems to be seen as a member. Well let me tell you...she definitly seems like a full time member after this. Performance wise, the band are at there peaks here, with the guys doing really impressive stuff. Now Anathema aren't a virtuostic band...but in styles of songwriting...they beat most people to the ground...and this album proves it!

1. Untouchable Part 1 ? For some odd reason, this reminds me of a sequel to Dreaming Light. Similar lyrics and emotions found, and just as beautiful. The guitar work and musicianship is flawless and the arrangement is just beautiful. 10/10

2. Untouchable Part 2 ? Now I was pondering the idea of why this song needed to be split into 2 parts, but it makes sense now. A very Marillion sounding piano accompaniment, and a beautiful vocal performance from Vince & Lee. The perfect ending to a masterpiece of a song in my opinion. 10/10

3. The Gathering Of The Clouds ? An almost counterpart based interlude. Still a very breathtaking arrangement and some amazing vocal parts. 9/10

4. Lightning Song ? A very beautiful song with some great vocals from Lee. The arrangement is amazing too. 9/10

5. Sunlight ? A nice song sung by Daniel. A beautiful relaxing almost interlude feeling moment. 9/10

6. The Storm Before The Calm ? This song had me perplexed at moments. I did like the electronic arrangement on the song, but it felt a bit odd on this album. I was a bit touch and go on this song...then the ending came, and yes... it's pretty epic. A very emotional ending, but the 1st part is still a pretty interesting moment on the album. 9/10

7. The Beginning Of The End ? A perfect song for a single. Quite catchy, yet very beautiful nonetheless. 10/10

8. The Lost Child ? This song is very unique, in that it almost sounds like a piece of classical music. It's so smartly arranged that you really can't see any flaws in it. This song also probably has Vince's best vocal performance in it. 10/10

9. Internal Landscapes ? When this song started to kick off I did think that it was a very simple and quite uninteresting song...but the I realised that that was it's's

CONCLUSION: It's not perfect...but nothing is...and it's pure human like form which really makes this album work. This album is so beautiful, natural and true that everyone who listens to it can't help to be moved. Anathema aren't a band to fake anything, so you can't help but take there word for everything they say and do on this album. This is definitely their strongest album.


Report this review (#763470)
Posted Monday, June 4, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A fine Anathema production with their usual spiritual-curious orientation. The music, however, as does nearly all Anathema music for me, continues to drag on and change little, sometimes using multiple themes to try to make the songs more interesting but, in my ear, only making things busier and distracting. Still, the Cavanaugh brothers pick great chords to lock into and create very emotional and melodic vocals. Plus, the band's production acumen has only grown with time; since about 2009, Anathema albums have certainly become some of the most lush and beautiful-sounding albums out there.

Best songs: 3. The Gathering of Clouds (3:27) (10/10); 6. "The Storm Before the Calm" (9:24) (10/10); 8. "The Lost Child" (7:03) (9/10); 1. "Untouchable, Pt. 1" (6:14) (9/10); 7. "The Beginning and the End" (4:53) (9/10), and; the spiritually messaged 8. "Internal Landscapes" (8:52) (9/10).

A solid four star album nudged up a little for the subject matter and mature production value.

Report this review (#768328)
Posted Saturday, June 9, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Anathema is a band that I have dabbled with over the years, but only since the release of "We're Here Because We're Here" have I properly listened to and explored this band.

So now we have the follow up "Weather Systems" this is an album that very much picks up where WHBWH left off. A post rock album that is full of sumptuous orchestration, depth of emotion, and some very nice production.

Anathema are very much part of the modern prog revival that's happening at the moment, but this is not prog in the traditional sense. There's not much in the way of odd time signatures, virtuoso performances or stark contrasts in mood and feel. In fact quite the opposite, this album takes it right back to just one idea, that's nurtured, grown, and given space to breathe. This is Anathema's strength as a band, they are brave enough to take that one idea and run with it. The result is engaging, uplifting and full of emotion; something I feel can be lost when (prog bands in particular) focus on the technicality side of things.

The two major highlights of this album for me are "Untouchable Pt 1 "and "The Beginning and the End". "Untouchable Pt 1" is very much in the same vein as "Thin Air" from WHBWH, a single phrase repeated and built up, until bam! In comes the distorted guitars and you're swimming in a sea of glorious post rock. In my opinion this is the perfect way to open this album.

"The Beginning and the End" is a melancholic piano driven track; it could be classed as the single from the album. It's short, It's catchy, and features a fine solo from guitarist Danny Cavanagh.

My least favourite track is "Sunlight", while still completely fitting with the rest of the album; to me it just lacks that special buzz the other tracks have. I found I got a bit bored towards the end of it.

In summary, Anathema serves up a fine slice of modern day post rock prog in "Weather Systems". If emotion, soaring guitars, and massively long build ups are your thing, you won't find a better album than this to quench your thirst.

Report this review (#782301)
Posted Thursday, July 5, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars First off, I'd like to rhetorically ask: how many accessible, symphonic, crossover prog albums does a band needs to make before we move them out of experimental/post-metal section of this website? My guess would be four or five...

On "Weather Systems", we find Anathema moving even further away from their former gloomy, heavy style and into more lighthearted, life-affirming territory. This is definitely a crossover album, and would be the first thing to come to mind if anyone ever asked me if progressive pop existed. The music seems to be a logical progression of the ideas present on "We're Here Because We're Here", and again we find the same mix of gorgeous pop melodies, post-rock textures, driving rhythms, and Anathema's trademark lyrical style. However, this album seems, if anything, a more mature realization of that style of music (whereas "We're Here Because We're Here" seemed to be merely a joyous, contrasting companion to the melancholy "A Natural Disaster"). The band is in great form on this one, with every musician giving 100%, particularly John Douglas, who drives the beat perfectly, and Lee Douglas, whose beautiful voice is more present on this album than any of the band's previous efforts. While the comparisons and contrasts to Anathema's earlier efforts practically jump out at any listener who has followed the band at all, it seems to this reviewer that the best way to judge this album is on its own, as with any other Anathema release. So here's my verdict:

A completely essential, five-star pop album, or perhaps a solid, three-star prog album, with an average of four stars. The splendid magic of crossover prog!

Report this review (#793837)
Posted Monday, July 23, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars After the first couple listens of this album, it appears to be a positive, mainstream, ambient, alternative rock album that lacks progressive elements.

Don't be deceived.

Although this doesn't sound like the kind of album that has dense material that takes many listen-throughs to hear, it really does grow on the listener. For a while I felt like only giving it three stars. But after re-listening to it a few more times I came to find that it doesn't have a dominant positive sound, and a whole lot of the lyrics and instrumentation are artistic and sometimes melancholy. For example, "Untouchable, Part 1" and "The Gathering of the Clouds" have unique acoustic guitar harmonies. "The Gathering of the Clouds" also has creative voice overlapping as different singers sing different lines at the same time. Many of the songs have powerful dynamics and crescendo to powerful heights.

I can really see myself returning to this album in the future.

Report this review (#794778)
Posted Wednesday, July 25, 2012 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars It's been a long time since i've seen people so passionate in their opinions (negative and positive) for an album as they are for this one. It's like long time fans who aren't into the new style have had enough and this album becomes the whipping boy or you hear stories from those who can hardly get through this because of the emotion that they feel. When ANATHEMA got rid of the darkness and melancholy with "We're Here Because We're Here" I was one of the ones cheering on the sidelines at what they had created. It was the darkness and melancholy that I loved about ANATHEMA on albums like "Judgment" and so on, but man when they let in the light I can hardly even express the emotion that came with it. It's a story that is intriguing to say the least, and this change in style has made them very popular.

For me this is a step down from the previous two and it is a grower. So those who are against the original change have used this opening as it were to spit their venom. Their right to do so and we all have our own opinions and tastes. Dave Stewart is back arranging strings.

"Untouchable Part 1" has strummed guitar to start as reserved vocals join in. Backing vocals here too. Drums before 1 1/2 minutes and then it turns heavier 3 minutes in with more passionate vocals. It settles late to end it. "Untouchable Part 2" opens with piano as reserved vocals join in. Female vocals before 2 minutes then strings. It builds including drums and guitar. Nice. It settles back late. "The Gathering Of Clouds" opens with atmosphere then an urgent melody kicks in with male vocals. Female vocals join in too. It blends into "Lightning Song" where it lets up right away. Female vocals before a minute. It kicks in before 3 1/2 minutes. "Sunlight" has these beautiful acoustic guitar melodies with male vocals joining in. Backing female vocals too. It's picking up after 2 minutes then kicks ass a minute later.

"The Storm Before The Calm" is led by guitar and a beat as the vocals come in. It kicks in after a minute as contrasts continue. A calm after 5 minutes. Drums come in and build. Female vocal melodies too. Male vocals before 7 minutes. "The Beginning And The End" opens with piano as the drums join in. Reserved male vocals before a minute. It's fuller after 1 1/2 minutes and it's building. Great sound after 2 1/2 minutes and the guitar lights it up a minute later. "The Lost Child" is orchestral with piano. Vocals after 1 1/2 minutes as the orchestral sounds stop. Piano and a beat help out. It's building before 5 minutes to an intense soundscape with passionate vocals. It settles back a minute later to end it. "Internal Landscapes" has these spoken words from someone who had a near death experience. very cool and emotional. The music takes over 2 1/2 minutes in including vocals. A fuller sound after 4 minutes. So much emotion 6 minutes in. A calm follows as those spoken words return. It ends with a beautiful atmosphere.

I do prefer "We're Here Because We're here" and "Falling Deeper" but I can't give this anything but a solid 4 stars.

Report this review (#801569)
Posted Tuesday, August 7, 2012 | Review Permalink
Second Life Syndrome
5 stars I wanted to find something wrong with this album. I really did. There is something about Anathema that has always revolted me, but I'm not sure what that is. Perhaps it is the fact that I've heard them described as a cross between Tool and Porcupine Tree---I'm not a fan of Tool, and I haven't heard much from Porcupine Tree. Whatever the reason, I really did not want to like this album. I bought it because it was on sale, and I wanted to disprove the notion that this album, "Weather Systems", could be one of the best of 2012. Color me surprised.

This album blew my expectations away more than I could ever have anticipated. I tend to like prog metal/ heavy prog more than symphonic prog, but I have been dabbling in the softer stuff lately. With this album, Anathema has blown the door wide open for me---I want to dabble in symphonic prog ever further!

Yet, what is it about "Weather Systems" that completely floored me? This album is beautiful. That is it. I couldn't get past the sheer beauty of the complex melodies, the tragic beauty of the theme, or the raw beauty of the vocals. Everything is so vulnerable, emotional, and epic. By "epic", I don't want to bring to mind clashing armies or anything. By "epic", I want to paint a picture of reaching new heights---heavenly ones, even---and tragic lows. This album has them both, and they struck a chord in my very soul. When I hear this album, I can't help but close my eyes and soak in the glory.

Track List:

1. "Unbreakable, Pt. 1" - I am a sucker for multi-part songs, and this song delivers with a strong, inherent melody throughout the track. The simple love portrayed here is quite breath-taking.

2. "Unbreakable, Pt. 2" - I think this song is the reason I bought the album. The amazing vocals at the beginning on this track really sold me.

3. "The Gathering of the Clouds" - At this point, the ominous feelings begin. There is something on the horizon, and this track presents this with an almost strained vocal technique. The vocalists spar with fantastic heights to their music, and also with a sense of sadness.

4. "Lightning Song" - This is a strangely named track, but a gorgeous one at that. The female vocalist does a great job holding many notes while being backed by some amazing orchestration. Yet, the end is the best past---simply grand.

5. "Sunlight" - This song took several listens for me to appreciate. It is not weak by any standard, but the structure is a little strange.

6. "The Storm Before the Calm" - This song was my favorite from my first listen. It is more of an instrumental piece, though the vocalists are present throughout the track. The ominous feelings go to new heights here---something is coming.

7. "The Beginning and the End" - This is an incredibly beautiful song. The piano and the tender vocals gain more and more energy until the last half of the song. They then explode in a beautiful confusion, and then they recede.

8. "The Lost Child" - This is quickly becoming my new favorite after about 8 or so listens to the album. This song is the definition of tender. The piano is very slight, the vocals are raw, and theme is heart-breaking.

9. "Internal Landscapes" - There is much that can be said about this track. The interview of a man that had a near-death experience is very touching and thought-provoking, while a sense of heaven and peace pervades every second.

So, after listening to the album, I immediately thought that I had accomplished my mission-- -I didn't like it. It was too slow, repetitive, and artsy. But I had to hear it again. And again. Soon, those complaints vanished, and I came to an understanding of the genius in the album. Now, even the title of album, "Weather Systems", seems like a work of art. Every single track on this album is strong, and they all play off of each other. This album is essential in every way. This might not end as album of the year for me, but it may end up being the most memorable new album experience in 2012.

Report this review (#829188)
Posted Wednesday, September 26, 2012 | Review Permalink
Errors & Omissions Team
2 stars Once again I can honestly say: Don't believe the hype!

Anathema is indeed an interesting band and I don't have anything against them at all, but Weather Systems (2012) fails in make me feel interested.

The album, in general, is a follow up (musically speaking) of We're Here Because We're Here (2010) album and once again, doesn't go anywhere. Anathema's music is dreamy, but with no guts, is spacial but without any challenge.

In the end what we have is a pretty album with nothing for me to hang on to. Because for me, pretty and space melodies that are fabricated to be like that but has no soul... doesn't mean anything.

Report this review (#837963)
Posted Sunday, October 14, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Weather Systems" is the 11th full-length studio album by UK progressive/alternative rock/metal act Anathema. The album was released through Kscope Music in April 2012.

The music on the album is atmospheric and semi-progressive rock with very few nods toward metal. The tracks are generally slow building, going from mellow beautiful sections into louder grand climaxes. A release effect that the band master to perfection. The atmosphere is melancholic but not in a dark depressive fashion. There is a rare uplifting spirit in the music despite it´s generally melancholic nature. Male and female vocals compliment each other throughout the album and as a consequence the vocal part of the music is nicely varied.

Add to that a warm and organic sound production and tracks that have emotional impact and "Weather Systems" comes off as a well written, consistent and entertaining release. Tracks like the opening duo of "Untouchable Part 1" and "Untouchable Part 2", the darker edged "The Storm Before The Calm" and "The Lost Child" are simply breath takingly beautiful.

To be honest I wasn´t too impressed by "Weather Systems" upon my initial listen. I felt the music was a bit too sugar coated and lacked bite. After a couple of spins I´ve changed my perspective on the music though. I´ve been captivated by the emotional depth of the delivery, the simple yet intriguing compositions and the beautiful melodies. This is a matter of getting much out of little. You don´t always need to compose music with a million riffs and sections to entertain, and "Weather Systems" is a perfect example of that. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

Report this review (#846113)
Posted Sunday, October 28, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I bought this before I went to Budapest in October 2012 and seeing Anathema live on the A38 ship, moored on the Danube (prog concert on a boat, hmmmm!), knowing that the shipment (pun!) would arrive in my hands only upon my return. The concert was a serious mind blast, even my 72 year old mom attended and she loved it (bad seating though!), the band was spot on and the Hungarian crowd loved them!

"Weather Systems" shows the ongoing evolution of a once pessimistic band of doom metallists who slowly open up to the sunlight and the power of hope, above all. They are influenced now by the colossal power of nature, the enduring strength of the universe where beauty and compromise rule supreme, among the raindrops, the gales, the warm rays and thunderbolts married to lightning.

The epic "The Untouchable "Part1 and 2" are some of the most achingly gorgeous songs that one is likely to hear in a lifetime. Pleasantly accessible yet absolutely not at all pop, the whopping beauty of the symphonic delivery, the exalted and inspired vocals both male (Vince Cavanagh) and female (Lee Douglas) and the breathlessness of the dense arrangement are beyond any attempt at description, a transcendent piece of music, period, combining to extirpate a perverse plethora of emotions. One could listen to THIS all day!

"The Gathering of Clouds" is another typical arrangement of the new style Anathema, dense atmospherics of a mostly choir and vocal definition, hypnotic and pervasive. The orchestral strings add an immeasurable depth to the arrangement, intensely emotional and yet utterly brittle and divine.

"The Lightning Song" sets the spotlight on Lee's soaring voice, transcending all the usual progressive parameters and entering a new zone of influence, combining classical, folk, hard, alternative and progressive into a blissful exaltation of life's unending compromises! Imagine Joni Mitchell with a barrage of synths, a full orchestra and heavy rhythm section, guitar up front and center and sudden gentle expanses! Bloody wow!

"Sunlight" offers a reflection on the other side of the night, the unending glow of renewal and refreshment, the blood that pervades our daily routine. Bulldozing vocals and guitars combine to hammer through the pale.

"The Storm Before The Calm" is progressively experimental, far-reaching, a smidgen grimy (in a good sense) and an extraordinarily impenetrable barrage of sound effects with the clear intent to disturb. Its starts off rampant as the title would want it and after the initial paroxysm, the tranquil enters the fray, showing off a pastoral/ambient that rivals any Floydian opus out there, an immense vocal rainbow draws you into the quasi-operatic scenery, blindingly solid and yet emotionally supercharged. John Douglas does damage to his drum kit as if inspired by the ghost of the late (and great) John Bonham! A tremendous success and a total keeper.

"The Beginning and the End" keeps the accent on the sublime, a desperate piano-fueled melody anchored in obvious reality ("Inside this cold heart is a dream"), clanging guitars infusing profundity and elevation, Vince Cavanagh showing why he may be the top vocalist in prog today, emotionally charged and technically glorious.

"The Lost Child" has a gentle fragility that transcends any kind of obviousness, deeply honest and pure, no tedious bull[&*!#] formula on display. Only an artistic vision that complements their musical craft, offering to submission to expected norms or pre- conceived notions. The music is grandiose, celestial and impressionable.

"Internal Landscapes" stretches out even fuller the new musical direction, merging folk ? rock with symphonic power, all within an original veneer of tempestuous experimentation, vocally they are extremely confident in their more measured approach, creating intensely profound music that stirs the soul .

Anathema is perhaps just a few steps away from claiming the Prog mantle, especially as Steve Wilson has the Porcupine away from the Tree on some vocational sabbatical. The concert was a complete surprise and their recent albums (the sublime "We Are Here Because we Are Here" remains a true classic) ) prove beyond any doubt, the true merits of this remarkable clan.

5 climate schemes

Report this review (#881781)
Posted Tuesday, December 25, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars So yeah, I spent four hours on a plane the other day, most of the time writing reviews of albums that I bought in 2012 as I wrestled with my top ten.

Untouchable, Part 1 is one of my favorite songs of the year and the reason that I bought the release from iTunes (that and I won an iTunes gift card at work). It's a fantastic mix of acoustic over heavy guitar with a driving energetic feel, featuring a nice turn around in the chorus. Guest vocalist Lee Douglas adds a special element to the song with her plaintive warbling. Part two is a nice enough ballad, not my typical cup of tea but it is well done.

'Gathering of the Clouds' features some wonderful Spanish guitar for the first two minutes only to kill the anticipation of a driving groove by dropping back into the mellow 'Lightning Song'. The album spends the next few songs in a state of perpetual build up without ever making it anywhere. By the time the energy finally kicks back up in 'The Storm Before the Calm', I'm already aggravated. Luckily, the electronica influenced groove, brought me down off the ledge . . . for a minute or two before it descended into a few minutes of irritation over drums. Oh, and then we get back into the melancholy of the previous three songs which pretty much dominates the remainder of the album.

There are a lot of good things on this album; unfortunately many of them go on for way too long. I got real tired of the lull from Untouchable, Part 2 through the first minutes of 'The Storm Before the Calm' then when we finally got there, it never ended, it just decayed. After 'Untouchable, Part 1' I kept waiting for it to recapture the magic and sadly, it never did for me. I'd give it a two and a half star rating with the opening track being good enough to bump the whole package up to a three star rating.

Report this review (#902781)
Posted Wednesday, January 30, 2013 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Crossover Prog Team
3 stars If you visit the Top 2012 albums in you will find that currently this album sits inside the Top 20 and if you visit the Top 2012 albums in you will find that this is number one! So, a very highly rated album by lots of people, and one that I enjoyed playing a great deal. But, and you of course realized that there was going to be a "but", this isn't prog music people?There is some wonderfully delicate piano and gorgeous acoustic guitar, with outstanding vocals, but this has more in common with Coldplay than anything else. True, there is the odd hint of Muse, but is this really a progressive album at all? Well that's an easy one to answer, as this is more pop and cheese than prog but in many ways it is a very special album indeed.

Play a song, virtually any song on the whole album, and you will be taken aback by the sheer majesty of what is happening in front of your ears. But, it is like a rather rich cheesecake, the odd slice can be savoured and thoroughly enjoyed but if you eat the whole thing then you will be rather unwell. If I dip in and out of the album then I get a great deal out of it, but when I play it from start to finish I find that I am always fed up by the end and am looking for something a great deal heavier to reset my ears. But, love it or hate it, this is definitely worth investigating.

Report this review (#921557)
Posted Saturday, March 2, 2013 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
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.

Report this review (#958500)
Posted Sunday, May 12, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Such a well done album. I don't argue the fact that some give this five stars. The album contains a "suite" of songs depicting weather as a metaphor for the events in life. Quite Yeslike to me and that's a good thing. Instead of conventional songwriting, Anathema chooses to let the feel of the material itself dictate the pace and structure of the song. Thus the songs tend to ebb, flow and swell. Very emotional. The fact that there is a female voice that is used more frequently really adds to the delicateness and the expressiveness to the music. Lots of acoustic guitars, piano and especially, orchestration really fleshes out the rich tapestry of the music. Perhaps, most importantly, is the production. This might be the best sounding album I have ever heard. Crisp highs, huge lows without sacrificing warmth. Usually something has to give but not here. With this producer, i am anxious to here what they come up with next.
Report this review (#978060)
Posted Friday, June 14, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4.1 Stars. Mostly 1 Weather System

Weather Systems is the 10th studio album by Anathema and it picks up where WHBWH left off. In other words, this album is packed with high energy, upbeat and emotional songs. Looking at the other reviews on PA it is clear to see that this album has split opinions into clear lovers and haters. This is not surprising at all as tracks 1,2,4,5, half of 6 and 9 are effectively the same song. What I mean is that they all start fairly quiet, build up in noise and drama and then explode with energy and raw-emotion before settling down. If you love track 1 then you will love most of this album, if you don't then there is little else to enjoy.

"Untouchable Part 1" starts with a catchy guitar tune and positive and upbeat vocals. More layers of instruments are added and the emotional lyrics are sung with added emphasis. The song then switches to upbeat post-rock which builds and builds until you are swamped with noise. When I first heard this song I was blown away by the raw emotion and power. An absolutely wonderful start!

"Untouchable Part 2" starts as a piano driven ballad with Vincent Cavanagh and Lee Douglas performing a duet. Its very pleasant, although a bit like Coldplay. The song gains energy (but not as much as before) and it finishes with a reprise of part 1. Again its a really nice song, but it doesn't contain as much Prog as the last song.

"The Gathering Of The Clouds " begins with the sound of rain and thunderstorms. This song moves at a reasonably fast pace, but unlike the other 2 it is more downbeat and depressive in tone making it similar to the old Anathema. Its a well written and compact song, but easy to forget.

"Lightning Song" follows the exact template of Untouchable part 1 (slow and pretty, followed by a build up and noisy + emotional finish) except Lee is singing this time. Personally I prefer this song compared to tracks 1,2,4,5 etc. but to be honest its just another variation of the same song.

"Sunlight" is IMO the weakest of the happy post-rock songs and at this point I'm getting bored. To be fair its a bit harder and rougher then the other copy-cat songs and the vocal arrangement at the start is different (in a good way), but the its all just too similar.

"The Storm Before The Calm" is a well needed change of pace. Its a dark and tense song with icy vocals (unlike the warmth of before). The tension builds and is unleashed in a blast of noise. This is easily the most original part of the album and is hard to describe. There is a repetitive tune with grating steel and a snowstorm going on in the background, its very cool. The song calms down and then turns into yet another emotional epic! All well, at least it is not happy this time...

"The Beginning And The End" is the best rock song on the album. Its mainly moody Alternative Rock, but there is a awesome instrumental at the end that pack a huge punch. Good stuff!

"The Lost Child" is by far the best song on the album and also the most depressing. It tells the story of a lost child in the winter wilderness who falls through the ice and drowns. For the most part the song is slow and full of melancholy, but as the child begins to drown and panic the song builds and a climax is reached with Lee and Vincent screaming "save me!" over and over. Its absolutely heart-breaking and nothing short of a masterpiece.

"Internal Landscapes" is the perfect follow-up and closer as its all about the afterlife and eternal joy. It begins with a 2 minute talk from a man who has had a near death experience. The song itself follows the same structure as those I've already mentioned, although it does perfectly fit the lyrics. The end continues the talk from the same man followed by gentle ambience.

It has to be said that I am a fan of the song that they keep on repeating. If I was not then only The Lost Child would maintain my interest and this would be a 2.5 star album. With this in mind there is no way I could give this 5 stars so 4 will have to do. Try one of those repetitive songs before you buy!

Report this review (#1047420)
Posted Sunday, September 29, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Some bands one discovers by purpose, going through listings of great albums, looking and asking for recommendations. Others one discovers by accident, a strange set of circumstances, the stars turning right, something like that. Anathema's Weather Systems was such an album for me. And unlike many other accidental "discoveries", this one is no less than a masterpiece.

A few years earlier, it turns out, Anathema were a Prog-Metal band, and then they decided that they wanna change their style. Weather Systems came after the change and finds them stronger than ever (or at least, that's what they say. I don't know their earlier stuff too much, mainly because I'm not that much into the Metal-realm).

Their music is based on repetitive riffs. We are presented with a riff in the beginning of the song, and then they build upon it and/or detract from it. Some will say that it's too monotonous, but for me it is just beautiful. One thing that can't be taken from them, though, is their ability to write melodies. Weather Systems is a Master Class in melody-writing, utilizing their talent but with no need to show off. They know what they're doing.

Their lyric writing, on the other hand, is far less impressive. Their lyrics are simple and very emotional, but they're a bit too naïve for my taste sometimes. The great voices of the singers keep those words alive and touching.

The album opens with a great fingerstyle-guitar riff, joined by a nice walking bass. Vocals join not much later, and the song starts to get a life of its own. Layers are slowly added, building the feel and atmosphere of the album, an album one has to listen to from start to finish, in a single sitting. The song builds itself, climaxing near the 3 minutes' mark. Some nice heavy rock influences during those moments. "Untouchable, Part 1" concludes on a very high emotional level, starting our spiral towards the distance, foreshadowing the storm that begins to show and come.

"Untouchable, Part 2" starts with a great piano riff, in a much slower pace. The hubris is a bit broken, feelings start to abound. Near the 1:40 the song starts to change a little, and layers are again starting to be added, creating the song as it is being played. Slide guitar joins and not much later the drums and bass show their presence. Very melancholic, very winter- y. the second part references it's earlier part quite a lot during the next moments, before concluding, leaving us with a heavy dose of emptiness.

The Gathering of the Clouds starts with storm, both literally and figuratively. Fingerstyle guitar for the riff, a very quick pace throughout. The singers harmonize each other, showcasing their great singing abilities. And it all leads to? A lightning. Which is much slower quite surprisingly, even though no less atmospheric. The contrast between this song and the earlier one creates a small dissonance in the mind, making us think, making us feel the coldness and coolness of the situation. Around the 3:13 mark the suspense pays off, with a great guitar solo accompanied by a great drums work. The bass line in here is no less than amazing. So many layers in this song, and yet it feels so elegant and right. 4:30 and we're back in the beginning of the song, the lightning is behind us.

And then a sunlight comes out, and we feel a little bit better. A slow pace, with much Hammond work and a nice little fingerstyle guitar accompanies a lone voice, joined sometimes by another. Suspense is starting to be created, though, and a steady drum bit grows louder and louder as the time and the song move onward. Electric guitars show presence around 2:40, only to accelerate the building, to culminate around 3:11 to the song twists and turns, and then stops almost abruptly, continuing almost whispery for a second or so more.

Then a storm comes, a storm that comes before the calm. A bass line that is just pure genius accompanies a great bass- drum line, before all hell breaks loose and it just gets colder and colder. Melancholic, emotional and a maybe even depressing. In most albums, this song will feel a bit out of place, but here it feels so right somehow. A completely different style of a song, and yet so fits. Some nice electronics around the 2:45 mark, heard over a storm made of a drum and a bass. A wind blows around the 4 minutes mark, and then we're slowing towards the 5 minutes mark, only to see the damages, to understand what we have lost. A completely different song emerges, so different yet the same one. A new world, maybe?

The Beginning and the End is my favorite track in this wonderful album. A great keyboards riff on which the song slowly builds itself, layer after layer joining the mix. A little bit before the 2 minutes mark the electrics join in, and the singer asks for help because "the silence is raging" inside him and all around him and everywhere in between. A nice guitar solo comes afterwards, and the drums and bass almost but not quite attack our ears, doing it just in the right level. Another, yet different, guitar solo, and then a beautiful keyboards riff joins, softly and gently guiding us away and onwards towards our next stop, towards our future.

Then comes The Lost Child. A slow, moving song, starting in the low volumes and slowly grows fuller and richer, even though not louder in the common sense. A great keyboards line takes us next, before the vocals join in. it starts to slowly accelerate around the 1:30 mark, before slowing again around the 3:10. Then the pace starts to build again, leading to an explosion on the 5 minutes mark. And yet the basic riff is still there, keeping us somewhat still in control, holding the song back a little. Around 5:55 we slow again, going softer and lighter, even though not happier.

Then we go within, into the Internal Landscapes. A few spoken words guide us next, leading us towards our last station on our journey. Guitars join the Hammond around the 1:40 mark, and then: "I was peace, I was love". We've completed a circle, we were born again. We feel again, we love again. Now it is said clearly- this is a spiritual album, this is a search for identity. Drums and guitars join forces, 4:10 and electrics are back. Guitar and singer harmonize around the 6 minutes mark, and then, around 6:30- silence. The spoken words come again, and again we hear those words: "I was peace, I was love". And then- a lone Hammond takes us to the end, leaving us to think?

And then it ends.

2012 was a busy year for prog-heads and yet, for me, this album is the real treat of that year. Maybe it is because I read into it a bit too much, and maybe it is because my taste changes as the years go by, but? I can't grant this album any less than five stars. Even though it doesn't bring anything new to the table, it is, for me, an essential album, and almost no-less important: another great rebuttal to the statement that "Prog is dead". Well, it's not, it's only a little bit harder to find?

Report this review (#1323388)
Posted Friday, December 12, 2014 | Review Permalink
2 stars I belong to the minority here that can't dig all of that hype about Anathema. And we are minority indeed, if you take into consideration that it was voted Band of the Year by UK's Classic Rock's Prog Magazine a few years ago. My experience with prog tells me that if you don't like it after first listening, it doesn't mean it's not good. So I swear I tried hard to figure out what's behind the hype. I listened a few times WE'RE HERE BECAUSE WE'RE HERE, Weather System, Distant Satellites, and Falling Deeper. But alas I failed to hear what other fellow prog fans hear in those Anathema's most hyped opuses. In my humble opinion, Anathema is not a prog band at all. They are very good, but rather shallow pop band, both musically and lyrically. The band members have good voices and capable of writing very simple (usually consisting no more than 3-4 simple cords or even notes) but nice melodies. The vast majority of their songs are slow to mid-tempo, and they are lushly, although simply, arranged with strings played by session musicians. The majority of their songs are built according to the following simple but showy formula. Most songs begin quietly with male or female voice along with piano or acoustic guitar. It introduces the song's theme that, as mentioned above, quite simple and straightforward. Then drums start, slowly and simply: no tricky time signatures, etc. . Then another instrument (guitar or piano) and probably an extra vocalist pick up the theme, and they started playing and singing it in unison for a while. Then strings stars. The volume goes up gradually until the song reaches its very loud climax, stays there for a couple of minutes, and then the song either starts gradually goes down in volume and drops, then goes quietly and then ends. During that sound roller-coaster, the main simple theme remains the same, it's just played louder or quieter, it may stop unexpectedly and starts again. But you won't find other changes: no improvisations, no time signature shifts, etc. Solos are simple and straightforward. That's why the majority of songs are pretty monotonous. What I like: 1) The album is professionally arranged and produced, sound quality is really good. Big plus to me. 2) Performers have good voices and pop-song composing skills, and they use both very well: most songs are nice and melodic. What I don't like: 1) The music is quite boring, and usually you need to listen to it just ones to get full impression. Unlike most good prog albums, you may listen to it 100 times, but you wouldn't find anything new, because their music and arrangement are very simple, although often effective. 2) The almost obligatory "Climaxes" of their songs are quite loud and annoying. They often simply ruin potentially good song. 3) Sound and structure of their last few albums are very similar, so if you hear one of them, you shouldn't bother too much obtaining the others. It's similar to Ozric Tentacles phenomena :), although in my opinion Ozric albums have much more variety, energy and life and less predictable than Anathema's. So, why so many prog fans like them? I guess because even prog fans like moody but showy melodic pop music with nice boy/girl voices. And if you add to the mix "epic" ( 3 cords) songs with "part 1" and "part 2", the prog fans are sold! :) Well, most of them....
Report this review (#1500174)
Posted Wednesday, December 16, 2015 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
5 stars Weather Systems is one of the most rousing, beautiful, bitter-sweet, and powerfully emotional musical experiences I have ever encountered. The first suite of songs will build you up, shatter you to pieces, leave you at your most vulnerable and introspective, and then restore you to something stronger than you thought possible. Is this hyperbole? No. I purchased this album shortly before ending a very long-term relationship very tragically, and Weather Systems articulated the circumstances almost too apropos... and so wonderfully musically, that it literally sent me to the floor through cathartic metamorphosis. To. The. Floor.

The first 20 minutes, an extended suite of four tracks, are basically a break-up song, but holy cow is it perfect. Anathema has slowly transitioned from their bleak dark metal roots to masterful romantics, creating lush and sweeping songs that combine thoughtful compositions, a rising swells of dynamics, outstanding musicianship, artistic sensibilities, and pure class; class that puts them in a class their own. For me, these 20 minutes are the pinnacle of the band's output (to date). The songs roar with acoustic and electric guitar sounds, interwoven piano and percussion textures, and deeply resonant bass work. And the vocals... Cavanagh is masterful: pitch-perfect sustains, emotive phrasing, and genuine inflection. Feminine guest vocals by Lee Douglas and orchestra strings just tip things over the edge. Even years later, and after dozens of listens, it still effects me. If you enjoy rock music and life, you'll fall in love with Anathema by the time that "Lightning Song" comes around. If you don't, then I don't think we can be friends anymore.

The second half of the album is just as good, covering more ground conceptually and dynamically. Anathema shows us tracks that are some of their heaviest, yet also most fragile, which is saying something. The band is on an outstanding winning streak, but with Weather Systems they manage to create a release that may be their definitive combination of sounds and styles.

Among my highest recommendations. The perfect place to be introduced to a wonderful band, and perhaps to cross- over into the world of more progressive music.

Songwriting: 5 - Instrumental Performances: 5 - Lyrics/Vocals: 5 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 5

Report this review (#1581281)
Posted Tuesday, June 21, 2016 | Review Permalink
The Crow
4 stars After their very welcomed comeback two years before, Anathema released an album just as good as We're Here Because We're Here. If not even better!

Steve Wilson was not involved in the mixing of the album this time, but the production is also splendid, with a bigger predominance of strings and an even more variaty of moods and ambiences. The direction in this album is a bit more melancholic of in the previous effort, especially in the second half of the album, but not so dramatic like in preterits times.

Untouchable, Pt. 1 opens the album brilliantly, with an obvious continuation in style and mood. I think that Weather Systems was composed through the years along with We're Here Because We're Here, because the two albums are rather similar and they share too many points in common. Great guitars, beautiful melodies and intimate lyrics.

Untouchable Pt. 2 is follows the same musical theme, but in a slower and very melodic way. Lee's voice is introduced in the second verse and in the second chorus Vincent and Lee offer a marvellous duet. Just marvellous! The Gathering of the Clouds opens in a very dramatic way, with fast guitars and ominous piano chords and overlapping vocals in the style of Savatage.

This song is some kind of introduction to Lightning Song, the best Anathema's song in my opinion and a moment of pure magic. Lee's voice is just disarming in this one, and so are the touching lyrics. I chose this song for the end of my wedding... And the guests were really surprised!

Sunlight comes with the voice of Daniel Cavanagh, and his warmth help to create another great song for this album. The Storm Before the Calm is just life Get Off Get Out, the experimental moment of the album. But luckily much better this time! The cold robotic voices are perfect for the lyrics, and the second half of the song is a return to the style of A Natural Disaster.

The Beginning And the End is in my opinion another highlight of this album, with its marvellous piano keyboard, strong bass and the best Vincent's singing. Period. Just an almost perfect song! Sadly The Lost Child is a bit boring and repetitive, despite its classicism and fine orchestral arrangement. And Daniel's singing is also not so good in this one.

Internal Landscapes follow the path is like a mix between Presence and Hindsight from the previous album, but better than both and with an outstanding central section in the purest Anathema's style. Intense and strong guitars, alongside a bit of prog and charming melodies.

Conclusion: Weather System was not a big surprised compared to We're Here Because We're Here. Is like a second part of this album, but a bit better in my opinion. The 2010 released had an outstanding first half, but a weaker second one. Weather System is regular and therefore more enjoyable as a whole, making it the third better Anathema album after Alternative 4 and Judgement.

Sadly the band would not be able to achieve this great level on later releases... But that's another story.

Best tracks: all of the, except the weaker The Lost Child.

My rating: ****1/2, rounded down to four stars.

Report this review (#1766243)
Posted Wednesday, July 26, 2017 | Review Permalink

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