Album Spotlight: Anathema – “Weather Systems”


Anathema-Weather-Systems

I’ve been wanting to spotlight “Weather Systems” for a couple years now, and it just hasn’t felt like the right time until now.  This album is intensely emotional, featuring many climactic moments that will give you goosebumps and this otherworldly, or perhaps inner-worldly, feeling.  I’m now ready to give it a shot, and I hope you enjoy it.

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1. Untouchable, Parts 1 and 2

“Weather Systems” is an album that is all about life, love, and death.  It’s about the frail, yet eternal state of human existence, and how love can reach out over those distances in powerful ways.  While it may seem melancholy at times, the album is really quite uplifting and positive, even if it is incredibly sad, too.

How else should one begin such an album than with “Untouchable”?  This two part song is what cemented Anathema as one of the greatest modern melody makers in my mind.  The music has this way of elevating the theme and lyrics to make you truly feel them as they ooze from your soul.  It’s striking in some unbelievable ways.

“And I feel like I knew you before/ and I guess that you can hear me through this song”.  This first song on the album brings the emotions hard and fast.  “Untouchable” is a song about conflicted love.  It’s about a person and the love they have for someone who is gone; someone who is at the edge of her sight; someone who has passed on to the setting sun.  This person is not gone completely.  Anathema is pretty persistent with themes of the afterlife, and this protagonist is sure that this afterlife exists.  She knows that her love is still there, watching and loving her; but she herself is dying inside because her loved one is close, yet so far.

She is sure, too, that “I know that you just want me to belong to someone/ and I guess that now I’ll just be moving on to someone”.  Can love get any more intense than wanting nothing more than your loved one’s happiness, even if it is not with you?  Therein lies the conflict in this song:  She loves him more than words can tell, but he is gone from this life.  What should she do?  How should she react?  Should she pursue new love?  Her ultimate question, however, is: How can she love someone when “I’ve never seen a light that’s so bright/ the light that shines behind your eyes”.  She doesn’t want another love: She wants the love that blinds her very soul.  Now, she needs to find her way home, but no place is home without the love that lives in her heart alone.  The gathering of the clouds of introspection before the storm has begun.

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2. The Gathering of the Clouds

“Searched the whole world/ Found I can’t compare”.  On the next part of “Weather Systems”, Anathema presents us with a track of mulling, musing wanderings.  Our protagonist is searching for meaning without her love.  She is searching for that love that blinds her heart again, but she cannot find it anywhere.  No one else compares to her old love.

It’s more than a search for love.  She is searching for a reason to go on in this reality.  She doesn’t see any reason to exist, and she doesn’t understand why she is left here alone, apart from her love who she knows in her heart still watches her and loves her.  So, while she knows that “Time is right/ Body will leave”, she can’t help but feel like life comes down to “But if we live/ It’s like a dream”.  Her entire life feels unreal or maybe surreal.  “All that I see/ All that I feel/ All like a dream/ What’s happened to me?”  Whose hands are these?  Whose feet take me from place to place?  Whose heart is this, aching evermore?  Why is she so numb?

Her pain is potent and her feelings won’t settle.  She chants to herself just to believe that this afterlife could be the answer she seeks.  Just believe!  It’s never that easy, though.  Usually when you try to tell yourself that God or something else is the answer to your current problems, you can be sure that you are in for a fight, and soon.  “Please believe/ Let it wash your agony/ Let life reveal what I feel, what I feel, what I feel”.  She’s about ready to discover exactly what she feels.

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3. Lightning Song

“Lightning splits the sky/ Shining blinding white/ And here I lie almost asleep/ Reckoning in a place of peace”.  Like a searing bolt of lightning, realization hits our protagonist.  She sees the beauty of the light that is still in this world.  I think this is a direct connection to the light that has blinded her from within her lover’s heart, and now she is seeing the beauty and promise that this world still carries.

Yes, she’s beginning to recover from the initial pain of loss, and she’s able to get a better look at her situation.  She is beginning to understand the pure joy that her lover is experiencing, and also that she will experience it someday.  While she lives, though, she is beginning to see the beauty of the reality in which she walks. “And I feel/ I found my place/ In time and space/ In hope and faith/ And love I give/ My mind is clear/ I have no fear/ I shed no tears/ For you my dear”.  As she becomes grounded, the light of this life begins to blind her, just as her lover once did.

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4. Sunlight

This next track is an extension of “Lightning Song”.  While that track portrays the sudden realization of the light in this world, “Sunlight” is a song more about the walk she has now chosen.  She has chosen to remain in that light and to revel in its warmth.

But this is “Weather Systems”, right?  Weather is unpredictable at times, and sunlight can be obscured by clouds.  There are definitely grey patches of doubt and fear that cloud her vision of her newfound beliefs.  That’s how life is, after all.  It’s almost as if, in the moment of doubt and in the darkness of night, the light from her love still shines to show her the way.   Now that she sees the light of the sun of this life, her lover is now more like the moon, showing her the way and reminding her of the beauty of this life when times get difficult.

“Sunlight failed but only for a while/ In the moonlight pale someone made me smile/ The shining almost took me but I made it through that night/ And in the morning life it graced me and I ran for miles”.  She can continue to run, not just walk, because the light from her love was always just a reflection of the beauty inherent in living this life.

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5. The Storm Before the Calm

“The Storm Before the Calm” is possibly the most difficult track here to interpret.  It can be seen from different perspectives and different points in the timeline, and so the meaning is little unclear.  That may be what the band had in mind, though, as this song is more about a transition in feelings more than anything else.

Peace is always our goal, but sometime violence and chaos has to come first.  When it comes to life and death, emotions surge to and fro in a white foam of the guilt, loss, and sorrow.  This particular tracks seems to be from the perspective of our protagonist’s lost love.  He is dying, but not gone.  But he still exists inside himself, but is having trouble orienting to the new surroundings and reality he is experiencing.  Just like our protagonist’s stormy emotions that have surfaced to a new love for life, her lover is also writhing towards the surface of his reality to get a more objective look at where he is and the meaning he now has.

He starts out feeling cold and lost.  It’s almost like he desires the coldness of an unfeeling existence, and I can understand that since he is separated from his love.  His words are broken and incomplete.  He’s afraid.  He’s feeling one with fear right now.  His main concern, though, is the love he will leave behind in life.  He wants her to know that he loves her and will always be there for her.  Slowly, but surely, he is aware that he is getting better, at least in spirit.  The cold is giving way to warmth.  His new reality is starting to set in with a surge of emotions.  The light at the end of tunnel is in sight.

The second half of the song portrays his emergence into a new peace.  First, there are shadows of doubt; and, then, “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”.  The well of his heart had been cold and void, but now that emptiness has given rise to intense feelings of peace, unity, joy, love, and most of all, life.  He’s never felt this connected and happy.  He’s never experienced such a feeling of peace and awareness.  This is life!  This is the way life should always have been!  This is an existence where he is truly himself wholly and completely.  The feelings are so blindly white that it splits his brain into wide open awareness and color.  He exists as he never has.  “Am I still alive?/ I”m still fucking here”.  As he approaches death, life seems to be better than ever.

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6. The Beginning and the End

As I stated in the previous track, much of the timeline on this album is skewed.  That’s how it is when emotions are the primary guide.  “The Beginning and the End” is a track that seems to be a more stable presentation of “The Storm Before the Calm”.  It features the same feelings, and so I think the storm is the beginning, but the calm is the ending.

“Inside this cold heart is a dream/ That’s locked in a box that I keep/ Buried a hundred miles deep/ Deep in my soul in a place that’s surrounded by aeons of silence”.  This song is again from the perspective of the dying man.  He is entering a new reality, and the coldness bites at his heart.  Why did this happen?  He had such love in life, so why does he have to leave?  Why do bad things happen to good people?

His happiness and peace seem like they are locked in a box he cannot reach.  His joy is infinitely inaccessible.  He can feel the weight of eternity, and he thinks that he will never overcome it.  He needs help.  He need someone to show him the way.  He needs a helping hand.  His memory fades.  Silence reigns.  “Silence, silence/ Fade into silence/ Silence, silence/ Fade into silence/ Memory, memory/ Inside is the key to/ Memory, memory/ Inside is the key to memory”.

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7. The Lost Child

“I drift on a silent sea/ The cold night surrounds me/ Black ice forms beneath”.  We’re getting closer and closer to the end of “Weather Systems”, and the whole album is made clearer through the final track.  This next to last track is “The Lost Child”, and herein we find the death of the man in our story.  We saw the end of his lover’s emotional journey in life as she accepted his death, and now we will see the end of his journey in this reality.

After the surging emotions and the general state of chaos that he felt, he is now adrift in silence.  He is feeling peace.  His light in this life is fading; though, as we saw earlier, his light will still be reflected to his love as she goes on to live her life alone.  He is a moon when the beauty of the sun is revealed to her.  “And the sound of angel dreams/ The stars fall into the sea/ The ice breaks/ I’m pulled beneath, pulled beneath the waves”.

Here he is, drowning in death.  He is transitioning to a new existence completely.  But, even as he passes on, his love is still the anchor for his heart.  She is the one who can steady him out of the storm, even if she cannot keep the journey from taking place.  “My light is fading now/ My heart is breaking now/ My life is fading now/ My mind is drowning now/ But your hand reaches down/ To reach down and pull me out and/ Save me”.

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8. Internal Landscapes

This final track is a hauntingly beautiful presentation of the story that inspired “Weather Systems”.  The spoken dialogue is from the story of Joe Geraci, a man that had a near death experience in 1977.  The band contacted him to learn more, and I really feel like his words were part of the transformation of the band into a more positive, spiritual force.

Joe’s own words can be heard here as he recounts his passing into a passage between life and death.  He was bleeding to death, but death wasn’t his focus.  His focus was on communicating his love to his wife and on the sense of peace and warmth that he was experiencing.  He encountered the storm of emotions, doubt, and love that we hear on “Weather Systems”.

Part of this final track is an elegant ballad from the band themselves.  They are taking to heart the words of Joe Geraci.  They are taking his beautiful story one step further, however.  They come to a conclusion about the nature of reality and of life, and also of the connection between us all.  They conclude that love is the breath of life.  They conclude that love transcends this reality into the next, and so we never truly die.  When your loved one dies, they will be there for eternity, ever watching and loving you.  And your connection with them is closer than you’d ever expect:  You are both part of the same light.  You are both actually that light itself.

This matches up with my beliefs, honestly.  I believe in a God that is love.  He transcends this life and the life beyond, and we will ever be in his grasp.  The brightness – the light – is part of us all.

“There’s a fire in the sky, and I know it’s you/ There’s a light, it’s all around, and I know it’s you, I know it’s you/ And I dream like you ‘cause I believe in truth.”

“For I was always there/ I will always be there.”

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anathema-1

 

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