Anathema – Weather Systems – 95%

Not Post-Rock. I don’t know what I could possibly be say about Anathema that hasn’t already been said or written. It’s amazing to me that this band has been around for nearly 20 years and just keeps getting better. When I discovered them in the early 2000’s I was blown away by  “A Natural Disaster” and “A Fine Day to Exit.” I thought the band had reached a pinnacle, but they went on to release “We’re Here Because We’re Here” in 2010 which I consider one of the top 10 albums of the last 50 years. They followed that with “Falling Deeper” in 2011, which was  a revisit to their older songs  but with their new found sound. That’s how we get to Weather Systems. Expectations are high.

We start with a classic Anathema track, Untouchable Part 1. Technical guitar mastery, top notch vocals with bleak lyrics and an always beautiful string arrangement help kick off this album. Untouchable Part 2 is even better than the intro track and harkens back to their last two albums capturing the magic of their last two release. Beautiful piano segments, tremendous vocal performances and guitar work oozing with emotion fill the album. The album retains it’s classic Anathema bleakness through “Lightning Song,” which is a quick contender for my favorite Anathema track of all time. Lee Douglas has such an angelic voice with incredible vocal range, it really adds so much more depth and beauty to the band. I’m so happy her vocals have been a permanent fixture in Anathema’s sound.

I will admit “The Storm Before the Calm” sort of lost as me there for a second since it’s quite unique in comparison to the rest of the album. It has an industrial feel with plenty of drone noise thrown into the mix for the first 6 minutes or so until it settles down back to the Anathema we’ve come to expect. The next track however, “The Beginning and the End” blew me away with its raw emotion and intensity.  The solo at the end is so perfect in correlation with the mood and feel of the track.

This album is everything we’ve come to love and expect from Anathema. Words can’t describe the love I have for this band nor  how powerful their music truly is.  This release should satisfy both old and new Anathema fans alike. This isn’t their best work, but it’s very close. This is a must listen to album of 2012. – 6/26/12

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Puzzle – Nothing but the rain – 87%

Nothing But The Rain cover art

This is a 3 track 30 minute album from Puzzle, who hail from France. The band describes themselves as “Restful Post-Rock” and I tend to agree. “Nothing but the rain” is a brilliant explorative album that is on the more elegant side of the genre. The band draws comparisons to the likes of Mono, EITS and perhaps The Calm Blue Sea. The three tracks are long and drawn out with none being under 8 minutes. I really enjoy the guitar tones and spacious feel of this album. No one instrument overpowers another and that’s a definite plus in my book. This album flows extraordinarily well and is a powerhouse of a post-rock album that everyone should have in their collection. 6/26/12

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Beef Terminal – Known as the Rat EP – 90%

Known As The Rat cover art

Who says good things don’t come from Canada? Beef Terminal come to us from Toronto and have an absolutely solid discography of ambient meets electronic work. I really dig the combination of the two since post-rock and electronic are two of my favorite genres at the moment. Despite only being 20 minutes long, this EP has a very distinctness to it. It has an unforced vintage vibe to it. Sometimes a band tries too hard to recreate a retro sounding album and I’m happy to say that isn’t the case here. The track “Racoons” draws similarities to Riceboy Sleeps. This album is very chill, a great album to relax to. check it! 6/26/12

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Stories from the Lost – For Clouds – 88%

For Clouds cover art

This album is absolutely great on all fronts. I really dig the way the band incorporates elements of downtempo electronic into the mix. The soundscapes are very spacious and imaginative leading your mind to wander. Stories from the Lost have just an incredibly refined sound that make them one of the more unique bands in the genre. This effort is truly one of the great post-rock releases of 2012 that hopefully will not go overlooked. The mixing is truly a work of art, every sound compliments one another perfectly. This is one you can’t afford to sleep on. 6-19-12

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Storm Corrosion – Storm Corrosion – 87%

Storm Corrosion is the brainchild of Opeth frontman Mikael Akerfeldt and Porcupine Tree mastermind Steven Wilson. When these two collaborate brilliant things tend to happen. Both of their influences and styles just bleed through in this eerie effort. Akerfeldt’s latest obsession with 70’s style vintage prog-rock and Wilson’s flare for deep sensual piano passages mesh brilliantly. I personally would have preferred more Akerfeldt vocals on this album, I think his voice is far superior for this type of music. Not to take away from Wilson of course, his singing is great, but Akerfeldt’s deeper voice far better compliments the haunting music. Overall I think this album is very well done. It’s definitely a cross between Opeth’s “Heritage” and Wilson’s “Grace for Drowning” and I’m completely ok with that. This one was well worth the wait. 6-19-12

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Terraformer – The Sea Shaper – 84%

the sea shaper cover art

Most of the tracks on this 12 track album are short, sweet and to the point. Guitar tones are alive and vibrant and the drums are very airy making for a great sound stage. I feel myself really getting lost in the music here, it’s a very unique form of heavy post-rock. This is a really solid album from front to back. None of the particular tracks stand out from one another but they all have great synergy making this an album you can easily get lost in. Check it out. 6-19-12

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Irreversible – Ashes – 85%

Ashes cover art

Here we have a 4 track 35 minute album by Irreversible, straight out of Atlanta. They bring a stoner / doomy vibe to their brand of post-metal. The opening licks of “Prime” are excellent, really great tone, really great vibe. The vocals are a little out of place in my opinion, they are far too traditional of post-metal vocals for the stoner / doomish style of music here. “No Pure Conception” is a far heavier in your face approach that captures the imagination as the line between stoner-rock and post-metal is heavily blurred in a perfect combination of the two. Even though I feel the vocals don’t always work, I find that they don’t distract from just how damn good this album is. Track 3, “The Egregore” brings the volumes down a level but maintains high intensity through a mixture of ambient passages and breakdowns. I feel like this track is really the band’s Coup de grâce, if this track doesn’t win you over as a fan no track will. It has something for everyone and if you don’t like then post-metal just isn’t your thing. The final track, “Ashes” is a lot more mellow but nicely layered. It’s a fitting ending to the album. Overall I really dig this effort. All of the tracks have great synergy with tons of layers of sound to them waiting to be discovered in future listens. 6-14-12

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