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Judgement - Anathema

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Genre: Hard Rock & Metal - Heavy Metal / Artist: Anathema / Import / Audio CD released 2006-07-03 at Music for Nations

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      18.01.2008 14:54
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      Anathema's fifth album (1999).

      'Judgement' marks a turning point in Anathema's career, from the brooding doom and gothic rock of their earlier releases to the more overtly atmospheric rock style they practice exclusively nowadays, though this album is slightly odd in favouring an overall lighter, sparser and less melancholic style to the albums that came before and after. Past commentators have placed this in the tradition of seventies progressive rock, but it's really much more rooted in generic nineties acoustic blandness, though with a few interesting songs along the way.

      As always with Anathema, the focus is more on atmosphere and mood than musical showmanship, and although some songs seem to lack even this, particularly the soft rock of the early tracks, the dominance of Vincent Cavanagh's slow and thoughtful acoustic guitars and soft vocals in other songs elevate them to the status of Anathema classics, albeit not in the same league as the four albums that came before. The differences are subtle, often to the point where many songs sound near enough identical, but looking beyond the surface into the moods being evoked, the merely wistful 'Forgotten Hopes' leads to the Cure-inspired 'Make It Right' (sounding a lot like the classic 'Disintegration' album), to the tranquillity of 'Don't Look Too Far' and finally breaking through the sad barrier with the final vocal song, 'Anyone, Anywhere.' While it doesn't reach the depressive depths of previous albums, this song, with its sparse introduction and memorable, oddly Oriental piano melody is most likely the best thing here, if only for being comparable to the best of 'Alternative 4.'

      Most of these songs fade into each other, but this shouldn't be taken as a sign of an overarching structure so much as a nice last-minute addendum to improve the dreamy flow of things. There are some shorter interludes that help to break the album up, 'Destiny is Dead' having something of 'The Wall' about it continuing the band's occasional resemblances to Pink Floyd (last heard in Cavanagh's distinctly Roger Waters-style vocals on 'Eternity'), and 'Parisienne Moonlight' being particularly striking with its female singer and dirgey piano, harking right back to 'Everwake' on Anathema's first E.P.

      The album isn't all tear-jerker though, nice as that would have been, and has a pop sensibility running throughout, from the mainstream style of the first two songs to the disappointing pop-rock ballad 'One Last Goodbye,' which might at least prove helpful for newcomers to get into the band. Cavanagh's guitars are at their best when experimenting with speed and mood within the same song, making the title song, 'Don't Look Too Far' and 'Wings of God' especially enjoyable for being more diverse, the latter in particular injecting some energy into the album just when it was really starting to get dreary and stale. The final two songs are entirely instrumental, which shouldn't be seen so much as a missed opportunity as a nice excuse for a pair of bonus tracks, considering the album was already of a generous enough length to start with.

      'Judgement' is one of my least favourite Anathema album for lacking the usual sense of longing and despair I've come to enjoy from their releases, but it's by no means a sell-out album or creative misstep, merely a venture into a musical style I don't think they're as suited to. They didn't have an obligation to provide prog fans with the new Pink Floyd - Steve Wilson's Porcupine Tree had already been doing that for most of the decade - and there's a nice sense of freedom in this release for not being tied to any particular style. That said, it's pretty boring.

      1. Deep
      2. Pitiless
      3. Forgotten Hopes
      4. Destiny is Dead
      5. Make it Right (F.F.S.)
      6. One Last Goodbye
      7. Parisienne Moonlight
      8. Judgement
      9. Don't Look Too Far
      10. Emotional Winter
      11. Wings of God
      12. Anyone, Anywhere
      13. 2000 and Gone
      14. Transacoustic

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  • Product Details

    Disc #1 Tracklisting
    1 Deep
    2 Pitiless
    3 Forgotton Hopes
    4 Destiny Is Dead
    5 Make It Right (FFS)
    6 One Last Goodbye
    7 Parisienne Moonlight
    8 Judgement
    9 Dont Look To Far
    10 Emotional Winter
    11 Wings Of God
    12 Anyone Anywhere
    13 2000 And Gone

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