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Anathema - Judgement CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

4.15 | 652 ratings

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5 stars This was my first dive into Anathema, having read so many salivating reviews, I figured I would be irresponsible to my prog philosophy of open-minded discovery to not at least give them a fair listen. Their style is relatively nihilistic in terms of lyrical context and quite monolithic musically (if you are looking for symphonic synth noodlings , this is not the place). The mood is Nirvana-like somber, the melancholia profound as proven with the first track 'Deep', almost reminiscent of some tonal facets of Polish band Riverside (who claim Anathema as a source) , fusing Steven Wilson-like reflections on life's inherent pains. I must admit that initial listens were difficult, trying to pinpoint and then adjusting the 'pleasure acceptance' knob to properly enjoy the musical presentation.

So I went about an orgy of 'repeat digitalis' on this one, until I finally succumbed to the vaporous magic espoused within the invisible digital codes and now I am ready to scribble my impressions. Yes, 'Deep' is a tremendous opening salvo, with passionately morose singing from Vince Cavanaugh and some blistering axe osculation from his 'bro Daniel , a guit-slinger who is unafraid of showing off his influences but also occasionally tossing in some old school licks that would make Jeff Beck blush with admiration. 'Pitiless' is more virile, veering into quasi riff-heavy metal spheres that pound and startle and a platform for some snarly leads sparkling wildly within the ashes of the bleakness. It bleeds right into the majestically acoustic 'Forgotten Hopes', another peak moment where the sadness of the melody paints an aural video with astonishingly vivid scripts ('Hey you , rotting in your alcoholic shell' ), sweltering and towering blasts, whispered vocals and marshalling drums. Intense, raging and yet somehow despondent as well. This monster tracks welds into the twanging yet brief 'Destiny is Dead' interlude that itself morphs into 'Make it Right FFS', a dark, windswept, rain drenched dirge where the synths howl wildly, turbulent guitar swaths with leaden aplomb, an intoxicating brew that mercilessly bulldozes forward without falling into overt metalloid territory. And then come the killer tracks: the excruciating beauty of 'One Last Goodbye'. Oh my dear, this is poignant to the hilt, a troubling idiom of deep entrenched sorrow with a colossal chorus ('In my dreams I can hold you , still feel the pain, still feel your love' ) , the goose bump inducing lead guitar solo is one for the ages, more menacing than a Gilmour or a Latimer but yet far from your typical metal illustration. The elegant piano enters with refinement, fueled by a female vocal on the 'tres francais' 'Parisienne Moonlight', a welcome feminine piece that is my fave track here though very short, it fits nicely with the previous and subsequent flow. 'Judgement' is a winner as well; a fascinating slow burner that grows in evident intensity, faster and faster until it gradually veers into a mad dash of controlled hysterics that careens about outrageously. 'Don't Look to Far' offers up some more acoustic inflections that recall Floydian soporifics with savvy lyrics ('God bless this mess I'm in'), a loopy pace and grandiose rhythm guitars that churn brightly and conjure floating images of comatose suffering that is startling in its aural appeal. This is what makes this album so tangible, the musicians'ability to never plod and yet provide intense psychedelics and escapism of the highest caliber. Just when you expect some tedium to set in, 'Emotional Winter' kicks the listener nicely into deeper realms , with exalting lyrics crowning a passionate vocal from Vince ('Wasted moments won't return, we will never feel again') , a coronation of an incredible series of songs that are emotional, genuine and ultimately memorable. The tumultuous 'Wings of God' introduces that harder edge that manages to evoke the exasperation of lost souls felled by injustice and that inner 'spleen' so overtly espoused by writers such as Baudelaire. The wrath here is palpable, the guitars angry, the voices annoyed, the bass excruciating and the drums thrashing about, disconsolate. 'Anyone, Anywhere' starts off in acoustic guitar hypnosis, the disquieting lyrics again at the forefront of a troubled inner sanctum, plunging piano ivories into the throbbing meddle and setting out some kind of resolution. The chorus becomes grandiose and almost symphonic in its epic closure. The instrumental '2000 and Gone' shutters the hurting for the time being, a mature band reflecting on their past and heading into the future without any formula or reason. The mood is almost pastoral, dreamy and loaded with some stunning guitar phrasings that give this piece an almost Phil Manzanera feel. I mean what a ride....emotionally. .

This recording should actually be listened to in its entirety, as a whole, vibrant package that infuses life into death and hope into despair, thereby creating a completely pleasurable sonic adventure. Music that will affect your outlook on life and perhaps, see things in clear colored glasses for a change. Life can be a load of pain. It's how you overcome the burdens that make it worthwhile.

This was one hell of an awakening .Will some gentle soul be kind enough to pick up my jaw from the pavement? Please'

5 abhorrent verdicts

tszirmay | 5/5 |


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