Review Summary: Well, this sounds awfully familiar…
… but that’s alright actually because We’re Here Because We’re Here
is my favorite Anathema
album. Not a lot of bands can get away with approaching a poppy sound without losing an essentially progressive rock title as well as they did with that album - that irony is a fact. Or perhaps it just might be the most progressive thing I’ve ever heard. *sigh* Whatever. I suppose progressive music like exploration of any sorts is a lot like science. You never really create anything truly original because like science, progressive music (or any music for that matter) isn’t about bringing something 100% new and fresh to the table, it’s about discovering connections and exploring possibilities. Therefore I think it’s fair to compare the band’s most recent effort to its predecessor.
What you get when you listen to the first half of We’re Here Because We’re Here
is uplifting progressive pop rock music at its very finest. Every passage is excellently executed and what it doesn’t bring to the table in terms of technicality it makes up for in deliciously simple but exciting arrangements with every instrument working collectively to make the foundation of every song varied but at the same time keeping it very simple. And it’s effective as hell; it makes for very catchy songs that stick on your mind like super glue without merry-go-normal run of the mill song structure. It’s basically a genius musical formula. Throw in some humanism and somewhat predictable and cliché lyrics about love and human relations to catch the attention of the emotional listener (that will probably end up connecting with the songs on a personal level, in which case the attribute is totally subjective but great nonetheless) and you’ve got something which shouldn’t really be regarded as progressive at all. But somehow the album actually profits from this approach instead of it being a disadvantage as it should arguably end up being. Highlights such as Angels Walk Among Us
and Dreaming Light
will probably never leave the place in your heart in which they’ve made themselves comfortable if you, like me, absolutely adore the album.
Though on the album that this review is actually about, ironically what makes the album less interesting to an extent is the exact same thing that made the previous album interesting. What you get is what sounds like an extension of We’re Here Because We’re Here
which should arguably work just as well as it did on that one but the significant difference is that when Weather Systems
is predictable it’s just not as interesting because the arrangements and songwriting is simply not quite as good. The songs kind of collectively blend together in pallor and the first half of the album is basically rehashed material from each song and none of them is really bringing anything new to the table in relation to each other. I like thematic albums, don’t get me wrong but I don’t really dig that slightly one-dimensional approach. The second part of Untouched
, as an example basically just repeats the melodies and meat of the first and why they chose to split The Gathering of the Clouds
and Lightning Song
into two songs kind of perplexes me. [i]The Lost Child[i] and The Storm Before The Calm
is like a breath of fresh air with slightly different approaches and almost ominous passages throughout the respective first halves of the songs. Album needs more songs like that to break a pattern without disrupting a theme. What I’m saying is that if the songs would be just as good as they are as a collective unit the entire album would be so much better if it was more varied. “If it’s not broken – don’t fix it” doesn’t quite get to apply to a progressive band, I think. Though it absolutely goes without saying that the songs as standalone tracks showcase some unerring, very well written and absolutely beautiful passages, especially throughout that first half of the album.
It’s still a delightfully dramatic album with the same bittersweet touch that made We’re Here…
very special. So with that said - the songs are still great, the melodies and passages are still very well written, every musician on the album is doing a great job, the Cavanagh
brothers’ singing is better than it’s ever been and the orchestrations on the album beautifully blends into the soundscape without taking too much place nor going by unnoticed. And I love the diligent use of female vocals. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder and in my honest opinion where the album ultimately falls a bit on its back is where the songs, as earlier implied, feel like somewhat insipid extensions of each other on an album that essentially sounds like an extension of its predecessor anyway. And it’s a bit of a shame because this truly is an excellent album only with potential that the band apparently chose not to take an advantage of. Maybe I’m being picky but when an album is so close to perfection I don’t see why I shouldn’t be. Ultimately, with or without taking its predecessor into account; Weather Systems
is so good. So very good.