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Anathema - "Weather Systems" (CD)

Anathema - "Weather Systems" CD cover image

"Weather Systems" track listing:

1. Untouchable, Part 1 (6:14)
2. Untouchable, Part 2 (5:33)
3. The Gathering of the Clouds (3:27)
4. Lightning Song (5:25)
5. Sunlight (4:55)
6. The Storm Before the Calm (9:24)
7. The Beginning and the End (4:53)
8. The Lost Child (7:02)
9. Internal Landscapes (8:52)

Reviewed by on April 19, 2012

"Much like previous album 'We’re Here Because We’re Here,' 'Weather Systems' is stunningly well-crafted music that tugs at the heart stings instead of inducing head banging."

Nobody’s expecting any sort of extreme metal from Anathema anymore, and the band continues to uphold that trend of going in a softer direction with latest output, “Weather Systems.” But is that a bad thing? Not at all, as the new album is still compelling even without being brutal or technical, and has more than enough interesting hooks to keep fans of prog or gothic rock listening over many spins. Much like the previous album, “We’re Here Because We’re Here,” “Weather Systems” is stunningly well-crafted music that tugs at the heart strings instead of inducing head banging.

It’s interesting that “Weather Systems” isn’t a death metal release in any sense, but it’s still totally obsessed with death and loss and somehow brings up those subjects more convincingly than a lot of extreme records. Like with the last album, there are two opposing forces to the atmosphere throughout these songs that are almost contradictory. While everything is pretty melancholy and gloomy, and sometimes outright depressing, there’s a sort of strange optimism and acceptance to the whole thing.

The album starts off on a more energetic note with “Untouchable Part 1,” which is overall a bit heavier than many songs in recent Anathema history. The follow-up track “Untouchable Part 2” heads back into tried and true territory for the band with a focus on piano and clean singing, along with some strummed acoustic guitars. As with “We’re Here Because We’re Here,” much of the album follows a template of building up guitar sounds until reaching a critical mass that doesn’t explode into something extreme or fast, but rather into something immensely atmospheric and upbeat.

Tracks like “The Gathering of the Clouds” intricately tie the theme of the song title into the sounds themselves, with fast acoustic picking mixing into minimalist piano to create an intense atmosphere. “Lightning Song” also goes down that road, with electric distorted guitar hitting at just the right time, striking like an unexpected bolt of lightning. The only major element that may be hit or miss for listeners is the voiceover on the final track, “Internal Landscapes.” The voiceover, a major focal point of the song, is pretty preachy and may result in more than a few eye-rolls from the non-spiritual crowd, but then again it’s a benign and totally harmless preaching, so it can’t be faulted too much.

“Weather Patterns” is a superb follow-up to “We’re Here Because We’re Here,” using many of the same themes and ideas but taking them to different places. The songs are amazingly interconnected and frequently transition directly into each other, creating incentive to listen to the whole thing through instead of just picking individual songs. Anathema fans and anyone into the softer side of metal should pick up this release at the earliest opportunity.

Highs: Well craft gothic rock that strikes a balance between a melancholy and uplifting atmosphere

Lows: The spiritual themes are pretty hokey, and a little more heaviness wouldn't hurt

Bottom line: A continuation of the last album with more gloomy-yet-inspiring gothic and atmospheric rock to satisfy your Anathema cravings.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)