Anathema has long been a band that I know I can come back to for solid, amazing music. From their start as a doom metal band to their progression into progressive alt-rock, the band has always delivered atmospheric, beautiful, emotional songs that resonated deep within. So when I heard that a new album, Weather Systems, was coming out, I knew that it was something I had to hear, something that I had to dive into. I was lucky enough to get an advance copy and I have spent the past several days listening to the album. Join me below to hear my thoughts.
Starting with Untouchable part 1, the album starts with a quick fingerpicked acoustic while singer Vincent Cavanagh sings gently, beautiful vocal harmonies coming in to back him up at perfect moments. The song builds dramatically, adding in symphonies, distorted guitars, percussion, perfect drums, all with the fingerpicked acoustic laying a foundation. The lyrics tell the story of learning to let go of love. The pained calls of Cavanagh, “I had to let you go/Into the setting sun/I had to let you go/To find a way back home!” are nothing short of heartbreaking, even in their triumph.
The Gathering Of The Clouds and Lightning Song must be heard as a pair. The first flows effortlessly into the second and the emotional journey is astonishing. Female vocalist Lee Douglas proudly sings, with gorgeous vocal harmonies, “This world is beautiful/So wonderful/If only you could open up your mind and see/Your world is everything you ever dreamed of/If only you could open up your mind and see“. The climax of Lightning Song brought tears to my eyes and made me realize that I had forgotten to breath.
The Beginning And The End is another track that shows how to perfectly build a song without needing to change the foundation chords. Each new section only serves to amplify and expand upon what was already there. The guitar solo in this song is also stunning. Perfectly structured without any overplaying or unnecessary flair, it suits the mood wonderfully.
The production of the album is fantastic. Everything sounds warm, lush, and very organic. The mix is also fantastic, with instruments panned neatly and vocal harmonies precisely measured. And perhaps what is best about this album is the dynamics it offers. I kept my finger close to the volume control for much of the album, which is something I personally love.
This album is not meant for casual listening. It is an album that needs full attention and a bit of participation. The music hits on some of the most intense, sensitive emotions we can feel: loss, despair, love, heartbreak. I personally put this album on my sound system, sat back, and didn’t move from the first note until the last. Then I did it again. And then once more for good measure.
The Final Word: Anathema has not delivered an album: they have delivered an affirmation of the beauty of life, be it in sadness and despair or in joy and hope. Weather Systems is not just a contender for Album of the Year, it’s a contender for Album of my Life.
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