Anathema
Weather Systems


3.0
good

Review

by DarkNoctus CONTRIBUTOR (40 Reviews)
April 16th, 2012 | 46 replies


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: doubtlessly enjoyable, but the feeling of magic is regrettably, eerily absent.

It's quite bemusing to see Anathema's journey through the years and how much they've changed. The band insist they haven't abandoned their roots, that their music was always about being so lucky to be alive, and how good it is to be on this earth. Well, could have fooled me. With their doom metal beginnings with tracks like 'A Dying Wish' and 'They (Will Always) Die', most people probably would have said they took a sharp turn, slowly turning into an orchestra-slathered monolith of positivity. We're Here Because We're Here took this to whole new heights, more or less capturing the essence of sunlight into sound, which was a big contrast from their last album, let alone their doom metal material. But it was still great, and still held a lot of what made Anathema so powerful - their reserve. The orchestra and female vocals were used very sparingly to make the key moments in the album really glimmer and stand out, while the center of the compositions are the rock (and sometimes metal) instrumentation with the distinctive, atmospheric undertones. Be it the soft vocals or the feedback/ebow like guitar floating above the mix, it added a satisfying amount of contrast. In the last album they got it just about right, the orchestra and vocals from Lee Douglas were just right in terms of complimenting each other, exercising what have made Anathema a force to be reckoned with over the past decade.

But in Weather Systems the balance is a little off. It's the aforementioned balance that made Anathema so great up to now, taking everything brilliant about their influences and bringing them all to the emotional height that they can possibly reach, all at once. That's not to say they were always successful at this, that would be incredible, but it was to the point where they just seemed to be getting better and better. But here, one out-weighs the other, and it just highlights exactly why their last album was so good and why this one doesn't quite reach it. The biggest frustration with this album is that sometimes it really does reach the quality of the last album, and even surpasses it in some fleeting moments. The first two tracks, "Untouchable" parts 1 and 2, are just about perfect. The way the tracks progress is just brilliant. Part 1 is a classic Anathema track, building up to perhaps one of the heaviest things they've ever put out, mixing it with the brilliant tones of the last album, along with a new-found intensity that has been lost from Anathema's sound for a long time. Then part 2 comes in where the orchestra takes the helm, along with Lee Douglas' very pleasing singing voice, and it makes a lot of sense in contrast with perhaps one of the heaviest pieces they've ever done just before it.

But from here the album falters by letting the latter take over. Nothing about the orchestra is bad, and there's certainly nothing wrong with Lee Douglas' singing, in fact she performs just about perfectly. But this is part of the problem, Lee Douglas' voice worked so well because it was so striking when it was used minimally - here it's in the majority of songs, for the majority of the songs. In previous Anathema albums, a lot could be said for the way the instrumentation takes the helm and creates some of the most striking moments, not needing the vocals to back them up - that just isn't the case here. The glimmering climax of "Dreaming Light", or perhaps before that on the album A Natural Disaster, the instrumental closer creating the emotional climax of the album. Or even further back, the soaring guitars of "Wings of God" from Judgement creating such a striking atmosphere that it just takes the listened aback. Where the prominence of the vocals probably isn't because Anathema's instrumentation is weakening, more a conscious decision to let the interplay between the vocals stand and shine above the rest, it's just difficult to feel a true chemistry.

Perhaps a chemistry would feel more apparent if the lyrics were any good. The lyrics to Anathema's music have never been the strong point of the band, but they've never been particularly bad either - but here they come close. Very, very close. Every time you find yourself finally getting sucked into the passion a line like "I had to let you go, to the setting sun" totally destroys the moment. That's what a lot of the moments on this album are, moments with massive potential ruined by small things that you just can't ignore. Be it a line like "and my feelings will always shine", or perhaps vocals coming in just at the wrong moment when a song is winding down ("Untouchable, Part 2"), half of the moments that could have been brilliant become moments where you just should "if only...". But at least the band get it right, and enough times to truly save the album from being a disappointment. The last half of "Untouchable, Part 2" is simply fantastic - the energy and the passion far too good to be overthrown by the questionable lyrics. The very end of tracks like "The Gathering of the Clouds" and "Sunlight" really shining through as the most memorable sections of the album, and the experimentation on tracks like "The Storm Before the Calm" sticking with you whether you enjoy it or not - truly unlike any track Anathema have done before.

There is a lot to love about this album. The pacing is perfect, which is a first for an Anathema album, truly knowing when to build and release with a lot of grace. The moments that stick with you truly do get to the level of the shining moments that Anathema have forged throughout their career. It's just difficult to truly fall in love with this album when so much hasn't been capitalized on where the band truly shines. The atmospherics, the subtleties and the genuinity of the last few albums have taken several steps back in favor of directness and perhaps even clichéd tones. This isn't entirely bad, and it's incredibly enjoyable a good portion of the time, but it just isn't the Anathema that many have fallen in love with, nor is it what Anathema are truly fantastic at. Competent, definitely. Exceeding competent several times throughout the album. But that feeling of magic from "We're Here Because We're Here" or even "A Natural Disaster", or even "Judgement", is regrettably, eerily absent.



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user ratings (634)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
Trey Spencer STAFF (4)
Very high on style, but lacking the substance that made We're Here Because We're Here a fan-favorite...

Lambda (4)
A gorgeous album, lush with beauteous soundscapes and truly mesmerizing moments....

Wreath (4)
Well, this sounds awfully familiar…...

Victor (4.5)
This is one of the most beautiful representations of depression, loss, love, and death I have ever h...


Comments:Add a Comment 
DarkNoctus
Contributing Reviewer
April 16th 2012


8946 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

criticism welcome, apart from "[/i]A Natural Disaster[/i]". it won't let me change it, brings up an error. i'll change it later. :]

this is a very high 3.

Willie
Moderator
April 16th 2012


16149 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fixed it. It's good to see an opposing view point show up so quick. I still don't know if I'll review this or not. I'm waiting to see how many others come out first.

I don't know whether I like this one or We're Here more, but I definitely can't agree with your rating ;)

The band insist they haven't abandoned their roots, that their music was always about being so lucky to be alive, and how good it is to be on this earth.

I don't think it's fair to judge them based on when they had a different vocalist writing a totally different kind of lyric. I always thought that this version of the band could really call Eternity their debut.

Digging: Mors Principium Est - Dawn Of The 5th Era

DarkNoctus
Contributing Reviewer
April 16th 2012


8946 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

well that line was inspired by a recent interview they did, where they stated that. otherwise i'd agree with you, if it didn't come from the horse's mouth. :]

thanks for fixing it, by the way!

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
April 16th 2012


50960 Comments


Noctus, always against the grain

Digging: Friendzone - Collection 1

DarkNoctus
Contributing Reviewer
April 16th 2012


8946 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

not always, but often! [:

Willie
Moderator
April 16th 2012


16149 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Where they tried to claim that anything from Serenades could be called uplifting? I guess if you really use your imagination... nope.... nevermind.

DarkNoctus
Contributing Reviewer
April 16th 2012


8946 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

they did, they said that was always the inspiration behind their songwriting. he might be making it up to cover the fact he was just a depressed teen. :]

it's in either the interview/walkthrough for falling deeper or weather systems, one of the two. they're both an interesting watch so if you'd like to get an insight into what i mean i'd give them a look.

i agree with you though, of the early records i don't see anything like that in them.

BallsToTheWall
April 16th 2012


44805 Comments


Great review. I do hope the female vocals are used as often as they were in U PT II.

DarkNoctus
Contributing Reviewer
April 16th 2012


8946 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

thanks! i think you'll be very pleased with it. :]

Wreath
April 16th 2012


85 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I don't think the lyrics are that bad in comparison to what they use to write! Good review though.

Oh, and srslywtfkwat, three reviews on the same album in less than half an hour? Does that kind of stuff usually happen around here?

DarkNoctus
Contributing Reviewer
April 16th 2012


8946 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

depends on the album, but yes, you should have been here for the king of limbs. :]

thumbcrusher
April 16th 2012


3607 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

well at least you've lowered my expectations, wouldn't have been good to get them too high i suppose :-(

(i know this leaked ages ago but i was saving myself for the proper CD release)

Digging: Godflesh - A World Lit Only by Fire

Tyrael
April 16th 2012


20974 Comments


Nope!

Thanks for trying though

:] :] :] :] :] :] :] :] :] :] :] :] :] :] :] :] :] :] :] :] :] :]

Archelaos
April 16th 2012


241 Comments


Tyraelxy: He set out (daringly) to defend a rating of 3/5 and I think he did just that.

I like this album quit a bit, it might even be one of my favourites of the year so far, but you did very well with this review, sir.

DarkNoctus
Contributing Reviewer
April 16th 2012


8946 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

thank you! :]

i can definitely see why people are in love with it, just not me

thumbcrusher
April 16th 2012


3607 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

is the extra .5 in your rating for personal affection for the band or have you upped your opinion of the album since writing the review?

DarkNoctus
Contributing Reviewer
April 16th 2012


8946 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

well it's somewhere between a 3 and a 3.5 but it read more like a 3 so i kept the review at a 3 and my personal rating at a 3.5 to balance it out

i've had a good portion of this review written for a week so i doubt my opinion will change from here. :]

thumbcrusher
April 16th 2012


3607 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

well i remember on from the judgement thread you changed your rating up loads for that album a few weeks ago 13 years after it came out so maybe one day this album will hit you in the same way!

DarkNoctus
Contributing Reviewer
April 16th 2012


8946 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

well with judgement i never really gave it the chance it deserves and stuck with it, this i have, over 10 times. but you know, it still could happen. :]

Dreamflight
April 16th 2012


1760 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

you know Noctus, the Cavanagh bros are amazing musicians, but I wouldn't take what they say very seriously tbh. Especially Danny, when he is not high he's usually an arroghant bastard.



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