Written on May 17, 2013
Anathema’s Weather Systems is full of bright and sparkling sonic musical sequences, but it has just as many dim sections, which— unfortunately— make the album mostly unmemorable.
The record is filled with climbing crescendos, astonishing atmospheric moods, proficient guitar and piano filled instrumentation, uplifting male and female vocals, and razor sharp production. However, it is almost completely void of diversity, it lacks excitement, and the last 2 songs (which account for more than 15-minutes of the album) seem oddly out of place.
The album starts with the uplifting, yet melancholy, combination of “Untouchable Parts 1 & 2.” The first part is heavy and is sung completely by lead male vocalist Vincent Cavanagh. The second part features a duet of Cavanagh and female lead vocalist Lee Douglas, and the juxtaposition of their male and female vocals is simply stunning. These two opening tracks lead into “The Gathering Of Clouds,” “Lightening Song,” and “Sunlight,” which is the best sequence of songs on the album. All three tracks feature great instrumentation and vocals, yet they are all structured almost identically, especially “Lightening Song” and “Sunlight,” which are basically clones of each other, with the only difference being that “Lightening Song” is sung by Douglas, and “Sunlight” is sung by Cavanagh. Nevertheless, they are all great songs, and for me– “Lightening Song” is the true standout of the album, highlighted by a great guitar driven crescendo.
“The Storm Before the Calm” is the epic centerpiece of the album, and it is the one track from the album that shows some diversity of sound, making it easily distinguishable from the other tracks. It is broken down into three distinct sections. It starts with great vocals from Cavanagh. It then transitions to an atmospheric instrumental section, before concluding with three vocal verses that build upon each other– creating a great emotional climax for the listener. I do think it’s strange that they conclude two of the final verses using the phrases “fucking insane” and “I’m still fucking here.” I’m certainly not offended by the lyrics; they just seem blatantly out of place, as the rest of the album’s lyrics are very universal and revolve around topics such as sunlight, lightening, clouds, and silence. Again, I’m not all offended by the language, but it just doesn’t seem to fit the tone of the album, and I think the lyrics detract from what would have been one of my favorite verses on the record. Here’s one of the verses: “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.”
Lastly, the album closes with “The Lost Child” and “Internal Landscapes,” which account for more than a quarter of the album’s total run time. Both songs seem oddly out of place compared to the rest of the tracks on the album. “The Lost Child” is a slow and brooding atmospheric piece, and I just don’t connect with it any way. “Internal Landscapes” is even worse, as it starts with over 2-minutes of incredibly cliché narration about a man who experienced a near death experience. Once the narration finally ends, the song drags on for another 7-minutes without any direction, making it easily the worst track on the album. Because these two final tracks are so bland and banal, they completely take away from any energy the first part of the album created.
Ultimately, the measure of any album is how memorable it is, and although Weather Systems is filled with many excellent and even stunning songs, it fails to be overly exciting, and it is also filled with what should have been easily avoidable flaws; therefore, it fails to be memorable.
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