Anathema has come a long way from the doom of the early 90’s to their sound today. The span of their career has left fans baffled, but also created its own niche – sliding between genres – for the Liverpool brothers Vincent and Daniel Cavanagh. And though the setting may be changed, towards experimental progressive rock, the soul is very much the same. Strong melodies, grief and an ethereal element of something eternal is still part of the formula, but there are also new features put into it. A major one is Lee Douglas, now officially a member of the band, over ten years since her voice first appeared on “Judgement”. The music itself has turned to atmospheric compositions both complex and technically finely tuned, clearly turned away from the harsh metal Anathema released under the Peaceville logo. In the time of recording their previous album “We’re Here Because We’re Here” they worked independent of label. Now they have found their place on Kcsope, a home for music without boundaries, standing side by side with Porcupine Tree and Ulver.
While “We’re Here Because We’re Here” marked another shift in Anathemas sound, into something brighter, more hopeful, “Weather Systems” picks up the thread from it and spins it further. The contrasts between light and dark has grown sharper, the details are pushed further towards perfection, the use of vocals has lifted to a higher level. Starting “Untouchable” is an exquisite composition in two parts, built upon a crystal clear melody, into something so beautiful and emotive much else of Anathema’s previous works fades into the background. Part one is guitar based, while the second one is more down-tempo built around piano and strings. Through it all the voices of Vincent and Lee grows around and into each other, shining like bright light. They describe feelings of eternal love, and how to let someone go, while bordering to some kind of religious inkling. “The Gathering of the Clouds” picks up a more somber mood, the guitars sounding like pattering rain, filling the space with a cold wind chased by heavy clouds. This grows into the strikes of insight found in “Lightning Song”, where Lee shines once more. Following “Sunlight” is performed with Daniel on lead vocals, his voice just as pleasurably subtle as his brother’s, but a bit darker. The song has an acoustic feeling to it, resembling “Dreaming Light” on “We’re Here Because We’re Here”. Following “The Storm Before the Calm” is the darkest piece on the whole album, its rhythm and elements of noise creating something disturbingly cold, even though it ends in a marvellous guitar bridge. The loss of feelings given voice in “The Beginning and the End” is delivered with a brutal sense of pain to Vincent’s voice, as the calm piano grows into bursting guitars. In “The Lost Child” the misery peaks, letting us drown, not being saved until last minute, wherein may lie the major difference between early and nowadays Anathema: we are saved. The final piece, “Internal Landscapes”, touches upon death itself in a very direct way. It is on one hand spoken word, from a man who has experienced a near-death trauma, leaving the philosophical door to the afterlife wide open. On the other, it is an amazing last song, sung to someone leaving this world behind by those left. Full of loss, but also the knowing that those we love are always with us.
Over the years Anathema’s music has evolved, matured and found some pieces of wisdom along the way. This journey makes the effort put into “Weather Systems” tremendous, the result a triumph. Everything is energy, more full-grown and in place. Every song stands out in its own right, put together forming a composition of marvel that should be striking even from afar the metal scene that sprung Anathema to life. Vincent sings better and cleaner than ever before, the feelings tumbling out of his lips with every breath. The guitar work and use of effects is outstanding, the piano melodies has qualities that sinks deep into the heart. Lee’s voice is blending into Anathema’s music like melting sun, the unison between her and Vincent stronger than ever before. I see with pleasure how she has been growing to be an important part of Anathema’s sound. I dare say “Weather Systems” is an album at peace, from a band doing exactly what they want to do. It tears and burns and shivers, in a way that gives comfort and eases pain and fear. At times it makes the sky itself explode, leaving the universe wide open to things hard to speak out loud. I find no better conclusion then this, sung in “The Storm Before the Calm”:
“This beautiful feeling soars over the skies
Moving through my body out my mind
It rises up and floods my brain
This is fucking insane
This is fucking insane”
01 Untouchable Part 1
02 Untouchable Part 1
03 The Gathering of the Clouds
04 Lightning Song
06 The Storm Before the Calm
07 The Beginning and the End
08 The Lost Child
09 Internal Landscapes