Anathema

Weather Systems

01. Untouchable Part 1
02. Untouchable Part 2
03. The Gathering Of The Clouds
04. Lightning Song
05. Sunlight
06. The Storm Before The Calm
07. The Beginning And The End
08. The Lost Child
09. Internal Landscapes

[04/16/12]
[Kscope Music]

It’s strange to imagine that a band like Anathema, who currently pride themselves with grand post/progressive compositions and uplifting melodies and climaxes, took roots in the form of an almost disparate fashion as a brooding death/doom band. Perhaps their evolution over the years is due to personal growth and the need to be emotive without being so bleak; you can only stay angry for so long, and while death metal and doom can capture quite a range of emotional music, the genre is actually fairly limiting on what you can ultimately achieve. Anathema must have felt that there’s a certain atmosphere you can create with symphonic keyboards, acoustic guitars, and soaring vocal melodies that is much more effective at conveying profound emotions and concepts. The band really started hitting their stride in this style with 2010’s We’re Here Because We’re Here, but with Weather Systems, they nearly perfected it.

Weather Systems is absolutely breathtaking from the very beginning, with the two-part epic ‘Untouchable‘ sporting a grand composition and the passionate vocal delivery of Vince Cavanagh and Lee Douglas is chilling. The folk-like acoustic guitar cycles through building chord progressions as momentum carries up to an explosive reverie. Songs come and go in this ebb and bow of post-rock style song structure leading to climactic hooks that are rich in layers. This structure borrows from classical music, and the orchestral influence is plain as day. As such, Weather Systems sounds like it should be performed by a larger musical ensemble in an arena with stadium seating, not a five piece band who normally has the staging for clubs and smaller venues. Anathema should be commended on having the headspace to transcend their metal roots in just about every facet.

The breadth of Weather Systems manages to be both diverse and consistent. There are moments of folk instrumentation, rushing post-rock guitar leads, pop vocal hooks, progressive song structure, and even swelling distorted industrial synths. These elements mesh together in a wonderful coherency that makes Weather Systems a rich listening experience. Danny Cavanagh is a brilliant composer and absolutely shines on Weather Systems, with each and every second of music on Weather Systems well thought out and gorgeous. Weather Systems is absolutely drenched in emotion and performed with passion and conviction. Many bands strive for appropriately conveying emotion through songwriting, but it often feels forced and contrived. For Anathema, these emotions feel real to the point that it may even move some listeners to tears. From the loving, romantic bliss of the initial tracks to brooding second half that tackles heartbreak and death, this is a record for those who truly want to feel music again.

While undoubtedly a high point in their career, Anathema do have room to grow. It seems ironic as the element of songwriting is what makes Weather Systems so great, but the songs always seem to transpire in the same fashion, and it may be seen as predictable to some. Songs start out minimally— with say, with an acoustic guitar or a piano—and slowly grow into lush orchestrations. Anathema at least have enough sense to always lead their rising action to a fulfilling climax, which is something lesser bands fail to pull off, but playing with song structure a bit could really shake things up and further keep the listener on their toes.

This doesn’t change the fact that Weather Systems is an incredibly thoughtful album that is filled with enough honest emotional depth to invoke a response from the listener. Weather Systems will send chills down your spine and make tears well up in your eyes. Where many post-rock and atmospheric bands are great background music, Anathema demands cognition and understanding. An album as beautiful as Weather Systems is hard to come by, and is easily one of the greatest albums you’ll hear in 2012.

Anathema – Weather Systems gets…

4.5/5

– JR

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