Review Summary: This is one of the most beautiful representations of depression, loss, love, and death I have ever heard. Every nook and cranny of the album is charged with emotion. Anathema have truly bested themselves this time. Well, at least if you ask me. There is h
Anathema, the Liverpudlian band is known for playing extremely depressing music. t the same time, they are (at least in my humble opinion) some of the most talented I have ever heard. Ever since their last album (We're Here Because We're Here) they have been showing more and more optimism in their music. I am quite sure this will alienate some fans, but it will also bring many more in. I have been a fan of melancholic and introspective music my whole life, and Anathema are some of the best at this. Onto the review...
The album begins with a two-part song, Untouchable. Part one is a middle paced number, there is however, a feeling of urgency found in it. The songwriting is exceptional here, as with the melodies and textures found within the track. The latter part is very "post-rocky" in nature. The songs begins emotively with piano, which is soon accompanied by a soft acoustic strumming and some background strings. The duet heard in this part is absolutely breathtaking. The song builds throughout until it becomes a bombastic crescendo at the end. This is one of Anathema's many strong suits. For they can do slowly "move your lighters to the beat" song, and then transmute that feeling into an urgency only felt when a cataclysm is near.
There is one thing I can compare this album to, I am also quite positive it has something to do with this outing's title. "Weather Systems." Throughout the album there seems to be a flow from calm into urgency, from to loud. You could argue that many bands do this, but few seldom pull it of with cohesion Anathema shows on here.
The entire album is structured like a natural disaster. It begins, with a warning on the news (Untouchable part I); people scatter and make last minute preparations in order withstand the coming tribulations. Once this is done piece of mind follows, thinking everything will be "okay" (Untouchable part II). The following tracks should be "no brainers," of course, taking the titles into consideration. "The Lightning Song;" "The Storm Before the Calm;" and "The Gathering of the Clouds" make me think that Anathema were going for a concept album.
The album reaches the final stretch of "disaster" once the "The Storm Before the Calm" ends. It's as if the storm is finally over, and all that is left is to try and rebuild everything it has taken. Personally, these last 3 songs are my favorite part of the album. While the entire album is of exceptional quality, it's as if they let all of their "heaviest" emotions percolate into this section. "The Lost Child" is a dirge of a song, quite fit for a funeral procession actually. Five minutes in the song kicks into a higer gear, with vocal harmonies taking the spotlight. The feeling of urgency returns one final time, just as the storm's final assaults are at long last retreated. fades and a soft piano and violin piece ensues. This decrescendo stands out, even though the entire album is of superb quality, they really pulled out all the stops there.
The album's conlusion begins with "Internal Landscapes" my personal favorite on the album. A touching monologue about a near death experience opens the song:
"And I felt myself going. I was in a great deal of pain. It was a very frightening experience
I began to slip. I just started to feel myself going.
And I remember trying to hold on “'Ill be ok, Ill be ok”
And it got to a point where I just couldn't
And everything began to just become very quiet
And I can remember with every ounce of strength I had, I wanted to say goodbye to my wife. It was important to me.
And I did, I remember just turning my head and looking at her and saying “I'm gonna die” “Goodbye Joan”, and I did…
It was then that I experienced.. experienced what we call a near death experience, for me it was nothing near about it, it was there.
It was a total immersion in light, brightness, warmth, peace, security
I did not have an out-of-body-experience, I did not see my body or any one about me… I just immediately went into this beautiful bright light,
It's difficult to describe, as a matter of fact is impossible to describe, verbally it cannot be expressed, it’s something which becomes you and you become it,
I could say that I was peace, I was love, I was the brightness, it was part of me."
The band creates a shimmering backdrop to this monologue that really makes it for me. The track explores the tranquility the man spoke about in the monologue. The band begins and some of the most impressive vocal work is seen here. As Cavanaugh hits every note perfectly and confidently. The song fades in the final part of the monologue and this emotional storm of an album ends.
Overall, the lyrics in the album work quite well. They may not be the most poetic or "thesaurus-ey" lyrics out there; but in the context of the band they add the finishing touches to the album.
Anathema really did it here. I honestly did not know if they could do better than WHBWH but they surpassed that album in everyway. The only thing I would have liked is a little more variation in the song structure. However, this is just a small gripe, as the band is quite musically eloquent. You will not be disappointed.