3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Weather Beaten but Unbowed,
This review is from: Weather Systems (Audio CD)
Anathema have always been a band open to ridicule, to say they wear their hearts on their sleeves is an understatement, this is a group who carve themselves open and excavate their very soul, serving it to you naked and quivering on a humble compact disc. As Thom Yorke knowingly sang on 'Let Down' from 'Ok Computer' the mentality of the majority is 'Don't get sentimental it always ends up drivel...'. It is a protective instinct but Anathema fly in the face of such notions and ever since I first purchased 'Judgement' as a wide eyed twenty year old I have been amazed at the way they openly stare down grief, death, regret, outright failure and all the other taboo subjects most songwriters would run a mile from for fear of coming across as po faced, mawkish, insincere or simply morbid. Well, in a show of solidarity MWaS is today going to join them and leave myself equally open and unguarded...
This album's predecessor 'We're Here Because We're Here' wasn't just an excellent album, for me it perfectly documented a period of pure happiness in my life. I remember wondering just how this release would fit with the way I felt at the time, after all I'd always affectionately referred to Anathema as 'The Most Miserable Band in the World tm' so surely it wouldn't have anything to say to me. How wrong I was. The album actually contained two unabashed love songs in 'Dreaming Light' and 'Everything' celebrating not only the love one human being can have for another but also the love of life itself at a fundamental level. When I heard the lyric 'suddenly, life has new meaning' it felt like a direct message of affirmation.
Two years later and how the weather has changed, for me yes, but it would appear for Anathema also. The unquestioning faith of the previous album, where 'everything is energy and energy is you and me' has been replaced with 'I had to let you go and find a way back home' and 'Can someone please show me the way? Can someone please help me?'. Cast adrift on stormy waters Anathema now sound lost, desperate and searching - never more so than on the opening pairing of 'Untouchable' parts 1 and 2, both devastatingly honest in their heartbreak, the interplay beween the vocals of Vincent Cavanagh and Lee Douglas make the latter particularly affecting.
'The Gathering of the Clouds' and 'Lightning Song' segue into one another and make another natural pairing, 'Clouds' multi tracks the vocals in that way Anathema are so masterful at and the track builds and builds, finally achieving lift off with the introduction of drums at around the 2:50 mark before the composition suddenly falls away to be replaced by 'Lightning', the only track sung in its entirety by Lee. 'The Storm Before the Calm' is something a bit different, perhaps the most gothic the band have sounded for a while, the first half reminds me a little of Paradise Lost. 'The Beginning and the End' is the quintessential 'new school' Anathema composition, downcast but none the less emotionally raw and intense - it is also great to hear some soaring guitar solos here. 'The Lost Child' has a dreamlike, nostalgic quality and the imagery can't help but remind me of 'Pyramid Song' by Radiohead in places, even here Anathema ever so slowly ratchet up the emotion to the point where they are nearly screaming as the orchestration swells to a crescendo.
I'll hold my hands up and admit Anathema are a band I feel a particular fondness for, there is a loyalty there, a deep affection which makes it hard to retain even a degree of impartiality when it comes to discussing their music - and in this instance I have to put it on record that I don't care. I think 'Weather Systems' is a great album, possibly even as great as its predecessor, and purely selfishly it is certainly the Anathema album I wanted to hear right now. Don't worry, this is not MWaS on the brink of a nervous breakdown, normal service will resume shortly, but right now I want to state that this band have been there for me through it all and long may they continue. When it comes to Anathema and their honest wounded soul there is no middle ground - you're either with them, or against them. Drivel? Not a bit of it.
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Initial post: Oct 11, 2012 4:24:18 PM PDT
S. Kendall says:
Great review. I really enjoyed reading it. :)
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