Anathema - Weather Systems
The past few years have been quite clearly the most productive for the doom-cum-prog Liverpudlian troupe Anathema. A recent excellent album and numerous live tours have been interspersed with reassessments and re-recordings of older material, keeping them in the press and people's minds almost constantly. So really for the first time there is a tangible weight of expectation beyond the hardcore fans surrounding album number nine Weather Systems, a sense that something special should be delivered that will both enthral and amaze in equal measures.
Anyone hoping that Weather Systems will be some sort of revelation will be disappointed, but that shouldn't detract from the fact that Anathema have delivered a good album – no better than that - but a credible effort all the same. All the problems with this album seem to be stuck in the first half, a collection of somewhat insipid and limp songs that show Anathema at their most bland. A lot has been made of the added prominence of Lee Douglas' spellbinding vocals, but it appears she has been given all the tracks they couldn't think what else to do with, and even her talent can't rescue them.
But come 'The Storm Before The Calm' something underneath shifts, an inspirational switch is flicked, and Anathema morph into this pop-prog goliath. Taking the melodic flair of pop, the over-arching ability to piece mini masterpieces together from prog, and a few seriously beefy riffs from metal, the second half of Weather Systems becomes this fabulous melting pot of genres. It is all then tied together with the band's signature turn at building these vast, uplifting layers of musical wonderment.
I don't believe this is quite the album that everyone was hoping for, but with a more realistic view, Weather Systems is a fine record that will please the majority of Anathema fans, in part at least, and should even draw in another wave of followers too. And in all honesty, you can't really ask for more than that. Ignore the showers and enjoy the sunny spells.