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Anathema: Weather systems

29/05/12  ||  The Duff

Well this here’s a pleasant surprise. The time between “A Natural Disaster” and “We’re Here Because We’re Here” was suggesting that maybe Anathema were on a few hiatuses here and there, a shame because this era of the band finds it hitting its stride, the latter record particularly being a mesmerizing affair of rich emotional contrast.

According to the band, though, “Weather Systems” is the result of a sudden creativity spurt and, more enticing still, better than “We’re Here Because We’re Here”. I’ll save you the time: while such words are a reason for a blind purchase alone that I assure you will not disappoint, this is not better than the 2010 record while being just about different enough, more of the same and equally musically enchanting. Not bad when compared to what is possibly one of the greatest rock/post-rock/atmospheric rock albums of our time.

So how does this differ? Well, it seems that whatever love Daniel Cavanaugh was experiencing around the time of “We’re Here Because We’re Here” has ebbed, or at the least the relationship has run its course. He’s still in love, though, hot potatoes, bless this man. Yes, lyrically, “Weather Systems” can appear to some too raw, honest and naïve, to others as airy-fairy bullshit, but as anyone who’s fallen in love AND who is a bonafide pussy can testify, this is what the feeling puts you through, and really, I’m glad there’s a band that can marry the various aspects of the feeling with such suitable musical backdrops.

So the music is more downcast, but in a very suggestively positive manner – there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. As for the rest, we have a record that is very much a sister album to its immediate predecessor, moreso than “A Fine Day to Exit” paired up with “A Natural Disaster” or even “Alternative 4” and “Judgement” (an era where the band seemed a touch awkwardly footed). Seems to me stylistically Anathema have often written albums in twos. We also have a track written by drummer John Douglas which may hold more of a connection with the band’s lust for Depeche Mode than anything released post-“Judgement” – it still fits in quite nicely by breaking the listener away from such an expressive intensity, only to revert halfway through to the ethereal vibe the album set off with.

Where this album is once more a peak for the band is in the vocals. We always knew that Lee was a welcome addition in her contrasting the dour, almost drawled melancholy provided by Vincent, but here we find each of them vocally soaring as high as the other. Then we come to “Eternal Landscapes”, where the notes reached towards the end make the entire album one of the most worthwhile listening experiences of the atmospheric rock sub-genre.

Once more the band flirts with mankind’s fear of death, this time around via an interview excerpt from Joe Geraci. Trust me, it is entirely captivating a speech, whether you believe in the afterlife or not, and by the end of the track you’ll be screaming “No, don’t leave me baritone James Earl Jones! Please! Tell me how you make a Denver omelette. Divulge how you make sweet love to a lady. Let me know how moved you are with the sights of the setting sun now you’ve been given a second chance at life, you vanilla motherfucker!” It’s truly one of the most moving tracks I’ve come across in my time as a pretentious, pseudo-elitist who spits on anything radio-friendly despite a lot of the content here rooted in pop.

Musically, the album is as robust as the all-encompassing “We’re Here Because We’re Here”, but in a subtler manner. The music does become very layered (at times with an almost Devin Townsend-esque vibe to it), and as per the last album, a motif is set and density is added to form enswirling, emotional journeys that make you think of, well, life, generally – to some it may appear formulaic, the simple, minimal opening with build-ups towards the ethereal, but the truth is Anathema are so fucking proficient at it.

In the end, looking back, I regret not having Anathema’s 2010 record in my top five for that year seeing as I don’t do half-assed second measures “Close but no cigar” bullshit. No. When I give you my dick, I give it you all five inches hardcore. “Weather Systems”, despite it being not as good, is regardless a great pairing with “We’re Here Because We’re Here” and might well deserve a spot the end of 2012.

8,5

  • Information
  • Released: 2012
  • Label: KScope Music
  • Website: Anathema MySpace
  • Band
  • Lee Douglas: vocals
  • Danny Cavanagh: guitars, vocals, keyboards
  • Vincent Cavanagh: guitars, vocals
  • Jamie Cavanagh: bass
  • John Douglas: drums
  • Tracklist
  • 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