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Anathema - Judgement CD (album) cover

JUDGEMENT

Anathema

 

Experimental/Post Metal

4.16 | 640 ratings

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Antennas
5 stars Okay, I'll be honest - this is my first review posted here *ever*, and it might not be the wisest thing to do to - starting off with reviewing my most cherished album of all!

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a 'beginner'. I've been into prog music since the late 1970's, know very well the likes of Genesis, Yes, Pink Floyd, Rush and such - but even as such this album hit me like a ton of bricks from the first moment I was introduced to it. Since then, ANATHEMA has become my favourite band by far, and not without reason, as I'll try to explain here.

Yeah, ANATHEMA started off as one of the Big Three of English Doom Metal around 1990 along with My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost, but in contrary to those, they've managed to develop their music into directions no-one could have forseen. Not one album of these Liverpoodlian lads resembles another - each of them is the result of a bunch of people willingly exploring new styles and colours of music, and it shows! In this sense, 'Judgement' is considered by many fans as their best asset so far.

The band became heavily influenced by Pink Floyd with their 'Eternity' album. 'Alternative 4' saw ANATHEMA in transition, the release of it marked the departure of one of their main composers (Duncan Patterson, lately in ANTIMATTER and his new band ION), due to interpersonal problems. Instead of giving up, the remaining ANATHEMA guys decided to give their follow-up album their best shot - and they wonderfully succeeded!

Though not as dark as 'Alternative 4', this album too, is a very sad one - it's dedicated to the Cavanagh brother's beloved mother, who sadly passed away at the age of 49. Sadness, despair, pain, but at the same time, consolation and hope - it's all there, embedded in wonderful Floydesque melody lines, mostly put together by ANATHEMA's - since Duncan's departure - 'Court Composer', Danny Cavanagh. Another striking element on this album are Vincent Cavanagh's beautiful vocals - some people have dubbed them as 'old', in a positive way, and I fully acknowledge that.

Strangely enough, it's an album quite accessible - it's song based as never before, with clear, concise arrangements. *All* of the songs are gems, but I'll try and pick out some personal highlights nevertheless - as difficult as that is for me!

"Deep" hints at the Inevitable to Come - the death of a Loved One, that is. A haunting, strong melody, enhanced by the Cavanagh Brothers's power chords, draws the listener into the song as inevitable as the lyrics' subject.

"Forgotten Hopes" is another song not to be missed - it addresses the pain of seeing someone you love drown his/herself into 'an alcoholic shell', without any possibility of escape. I think all of us know at least ONE person fitting the truly heartbreaking, yet also condemning lyrics. Not to be missed, this one!

"One Last Goodbye" is considered by many the ideal 'funeral song' - both the lyrics and the music are strikingly simple of nature, but go straight to the heart. Never ever I heard a song addressing the feelings of loss of a dearly loved one so well as this one does, and I sincerely doubt I ever will! It's also mainly considered as ANATHEMA's best song so far - should they ever decide *not* to play it at a live gig, I'm pretty sure the venue's manager should check his insurance policy, as the fans will most probably tear down the house completely! Also, it's one of the rare songs even composer Danny Cavanagh insists that it is GOOD. He usually doesn't do that about his own compositions (in public ;-), but he understands no-one would believe him if he'd deny this one as one of his best ;-).

I could go on-and-on here - "Parisiene Moonlight", "Judgement", "Don't Look Too Far" (which have the drummer's sister Lee taking up on the vocals), all of these deserve a mentioning, but I fear this review would then easily amount to some 5000+ words, which I'll try and spare you.

A final note on "Wings of God", then, a composition by drummer John Douglas - once again, a lovely melody carrying ever-so-sad but poetic lyrics - "Solitude was never seen as loneliness... escaping the law of the unexpecting pains..." if anything, I'd say this one will make even the most depressed person realize - 'hey, it's not THAT bad with me!' ;-)

The band did an awesome job on producing this album, largely by themselves, aided by Pink Floyd-sidesman Kit Woolven. There was a lot of money pumped into the band at this time by now-combusted record company Music For Nations - but it sadly didn't provide them the major breakthrough they so heavily deserve. It's clear this band concentrates on Emotion rather than on technical abilities per sé, so it's not the likely stuff for your ordinary Dream Theater-fan, nor for the archetypical proto-prog fan overdosing on key changes and such - but if you like your music genuinely emotional and heartbreaking, you should definitely give these fine lads a try.

As for now, I can only wish and hope that ANATHEMA won't be compelled to go for a major Sell Out move, but on the other hand I can't help but understand if they would - after all, being perhaps The Most Underrated Band of the past 15 years can become a major cross to bear - even for ANATHEMA.

Did I need to say more? This one is an ESSENTIAL.

Antennas | 5/5 |

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