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Anathema - Weather Systems CD (album) cover

WEATHER SYSTEMS

Anathema

 

Experimental/Post Metal

4.01 | 897 ratings

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TCat
5 stars 'Weather Systems' from Anathema is the ninth full-length album in their discography. The line-up is the same as the last album except for the absence of the keyboardist Les Smith. Keyboard duties are shared by other band members through this album. Where the previous album 'We're Here Because We're Here' (WHBWH) was produced by Steven Wilson and had a more symphonic feel to it. This one is produced by members of the band and, even though it has symphonic aspects to it, it seems to be less noticeable. However, it is an album that is a lot more moving and emotional than WHBWH and "Falling Away". Also, Lee Douglas has more lead vocals than she did in WHBWH, where she did more support and harmony singing.

Immediately, this album starts off sounding a lot different from the last one, with an upbeat track, the first part of 'Untouchables' being driven by an acoustic guitar playing a quick arppegiated chord pattern. Vocals start up quickly and this song gets more and more exciting and intense as volume builds to a somewhat heavy and driving song. The 2nd part starts off much slower with a piano riff and a more emotional vocal. After the first verse, it gets a little more symphonic as Lee Douglas takes over vocals on the 2nd verse. Her voice is a welcome change as a regular in the band since the previous album. Harmonies as both singers join together. This has a nice build in intensity even if it stays at a slower rhythm.

'The Gathering of Clouds' starts with the sounds of thunder and strings. It has a dramatic feel to it with a rumbling guitar and some interesting, contrasting vocals singing different lyrics. It flows into the next track 'The Lightening Song', which is headed by Douglas' voice. This one continues the same feeling until about the 3 minute mark where it explodes into a crashing and emotional climax.

Up to this point, the male lead vocals have been from Vincent Cavanaugh, but the next track 'Sunlight' is sung by Daniel Cavanaugh. His vocals are softer than his brother's, but that fits the mellow feeling of the song. This one, however, has a build somewhat similar to a Post Rock song, especially when it comes to chiming and repeating guitar chords in the heavy climax.

'The Storm Before the Calm' is the longest track on this album at over 9 minutes. This is the only track not written by Vincent as it is actually written by the band's drummer John Douglas. This one has a darker feel with a great intensity that builds in the verses and releases in the dramatic choruses. The feeling is more metallic and harsh, especially during the instrumental sections. There is a sudden release around 5 minutes and things get calm, as noted in the title. There is a build and vocals start again once again building in intensity. This track is very cinematic and emotional, and also an amazing progressive song.

'The Beginning and the End' is more driven by lyrics and piano. It is a mid tempo song that would work great as a single. Great, emotional vocals with another great build up in intensity and an impressive guitar solo before the ending. 'The Lost Child' has the Cavanaugh brothers sharing vocal leads. It starts out ambient with an echoing wordless vocal later joined by strings. A nice piano interlude begins and vocals eventually start. The harmonies evoke a dark feeling using minor 4th key counterpoint (known as the evil interval). As it builds in volume and intensity, the harmonies break out of this interval and become very emotional. Another beautiful piano-led interlude finishes the track off.

The last track is another one that approaches the 9 minute mark. 'Internal Landscapes' starts off with a spoken word section done by a guest artist speaking of a near-death experience. When the singing starts, it's Lee and Vincent sharing lead vocals, singing softly with a pensive feel. It gets more intense about 4 minutes in.

One thing apparent about this album is the amount of emotion but into the vocals where on the previous album, the feeling was more morose. This one is a brighter feel throughout, though most of the tracks are slow at first with a building intensity. This album has some very beautiful tracks, well done and well produced. The album has all the great traits of the last album, but with a more heartfelt attitude. Even after hearing it several times, I put it up there with the bands best, and it easily earns a place among the best progressive albums.

TCat | 5/5 |

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