Review Summary: A gorgeous album, lush with beauteous soundscapes and truly mesmerizing moments.
From the first second of Weather Systems
opening track, it is an album of beauty and elegance. An album of swirling, breathtaking crescendos and tear-jerking sorrow. An album to reflect upon. And, perhaps most importantly, an album of masterful craftsmanship, capable of inspiring and invigorating with its pulchritude and artistry. No, it is not perfect- but it does have moments which near, and perhaps even reach, that golden mark. The most paramount of these comes in the record's second song, "Untouchable, Part 2," which has a moment a little more then halfway through where male and female vocals meet in perfect harmony to soar above layers of acoustic and electric guitars, violin, bass, and newly introduced drums. This moment is so pristine, so magnificent, and what makes it all the better is that a few seconds later another one of these moments occurs: a singer in the background can be heard saying: "When I dream, will I see you again?" over all those aforementioned layers of beautiful instruments, and it is just gorgeous. It is radiant and sorrowful and joyous and sad all at the same time; in a sense, it is perfect.
Given my obvious enthusiasm for "Untouchable, Part 2," how could the rest of the album compare? Part 1 of "Untouachable" is longer- dare I say perhaps a little overlong- but still a fantastic track, with a rambunctious acoustic riff opening the song up and it continuing to build from there. The song does somewhat overstay its welcome, but provides a nice introduction to the album nonetheless. On the flip side, track three, "The Gathering of the Clouds," is somewhat frustrating because it suffers from the opposite problem. The song builds and builds for three minutes, and by the peak of its climb always has me enthralled- and then it just... ends. There is no real payoff; the song just sort of drops off, leaving the listener with an acoustic riff and then concludes. Like every other track on the album, it is impeccably performed, with all the musicians doing their jobs well; it is just a letdown to have a song build to nothing. Now, with that being said, it may seem somewhat hypocritical of me to point out Weather Systems
biggest flaw: most every song follows close to the same formula. A slow gradual build up, a distorted climax, and a lone instrument denouement to finish things off. It is indeed a good pattern, but by track four or five it starts to wear a little thin. The major exception to this blueprint would be song number six, "The Storm Before the Calm." It is the longest track on the album, at 9:24, and begins with some trippy, reversed vocals and a heartbeat noise before jumping into an Ulver
-esque electronic section. After a while, everything is overtaken by walls of noise and the song drops off into a solo acoustic guitar playing a solemn riff. From this point on it becomes a more typical Anathema song, but the first half provides a nice change of pace nonetheless.
Along with the predictable song structures, the other disappointment here is the mysterious push to the background of Lee Douglas' female vocals during the second half of the album. She has an excellent voice, and it seems a shame to have her relatively absent from the latter part of the record. Apart from background roles on the album's last two tracks, slow burner "The Lost Child" and the voice sample-ridden "Internal Landscapes," her voice is nowhere to be found. But at any rate, by the time it is over, Weather Systems
will probably have put you in a more radiant, perhaps more magnanimous, mood. It is an inspiring, lovely listen, filled with beautiful crescendos, invigorating lyrics, and even some perfect moments.