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Anathema- Judgement (Album Review)

Updated on August 17, 2012
The interesting cover artwork for Judgement.
The interesting cover artwork for Judgement. | Source

Introduction

Band: Anathema

Album: Judgement

Year: 1999

Score: 8.1/10

To be honest, I’m not that familiar with everything that Anathema has done. The Silent Enigma is an excellent album, and their debut is nice too. Judgement is also a standout album, but for much different reasons. Firstly, it is very unique. It’s not really a metal album, but more of a progressive rock release. However, the songs are well-composed and stylistically distinctive.

The opening song, "Deep".

The Sound

Judgement is a much lighter album than its predecessors. There is not anything doom-y about the album, aside from the bleak atmosphere. Overall, the sound is very progressive. Most of the songs alternate between soft verses and heavy choruses and instrumental sections. The vocals are sung softly, in a way that’s pretty unusual. The tone of the songs is bleak and deep. This is not a happy album at all- which ends up being one of the only things that links it to Anathema’s early work. Judgement only really has two downfalls. One is that the songs are too similar sounding, but this is only a minor gripe that I have with the album. The other issue is that some of the songs are simply not as consistent as the others. Compare “Pitiless” to “One Last Goodbye”, and it’s obvious that the former is a far more memorable song. This lack of consistency leads Judgement to be one of those albums that is best enjoyed only on occasion, as these gaps in quality are frustrating when the album is played all the way through. This makes it much harder to get through the whole thing in one sitting.

The cool song "Don't Look Too Far".

The Musicianship

The musicianship on Judgement is more than proficient. The guitars are moody and dark. There are several good solos, which is a big plus on an album like this. Truthfully, I can point out no flaws in the guitar approach. The rhythm section is decent, but not all that great. The drums are solid and the bass is somewhat audible. The synths and pianos are used tastefully. They are not overused, which is always something that I can respect. They often add to the mood in songs like “Make it Right (F.F.S.)” and “Anyone, Anywhere”. Finally, the vocals are also fantastic. Cavanagh has an interesting voice- usually softer sounding, but still passionate and compelling. His singing is very distinctive, and the album would not be as good without it. The actual melodies he sings can be annoying at times, but it’s definitely not his voice that’s the problem.

The beautiful song, "Emotional Winter".

The Songs (Part 1)

verse and a strikingly heavy chorus. It’s simply a beautiful and progressive song that’s very good. “Pitiless” is an absorbing track with an interesting guitar solo. I don’t like it quite as much as the first song, but it’s still great and a definite highlight. “Forgotten Hopes” is a step down, as it’s a lighter song and therefore less interesting to me. It’s still a decently good ballad, however. “Destiny is Dead” is fairly good, if repetitive, interlude. It is good for what it is. “Make it Right (F.F.S.)” is sort of like a heavy ballad. It features both cool vocals and synthesizer work. “One Last Goodbye” is similar, but it’s probably the worst song on the album and becomes annoying after a while.

The song "Wings of God".

The Songs (Part 2)

“Parisienne Moonlight” is almost like an interlude which features soft pianos and two vocalists- Cavanagh and a female vocalist. They sound good together, and have similar soft voices. The title track starts with some nice guitar strumming before building up into a great rocker. It’s the fastest and most upbeat song on the album, and one of the most progressive too. “Don’t Look Too Far” is melancholic and nearly psychedelic and definitely a highlight of the album. The heavier chorus is mesmerizing and addictive, and it also features the subtle addition of female vocals. “Emotional Winter” is another favorite. The intro is wonderfully atmospheric and haunting- it actually reminds me a bit of the band Dream Theater. “Emotional Winter” is a beautiful song, and that’s really all I can say about it other than I like it quite a bit. “Wings of God” is the most consistently heavy song on the album, and it’s a great song also. It eventually has some softer parts that are very nice too. “Anyone, Anywhere” is a pretty song. The guitar at the beginning is, again, very beautiful. This one relies more on simplicity than anything else to propel the song along. It’s a good track. “2000 and Gone” is a nice instrumental closer. It captures the essence of the album in instrumental form, and is a suitable song to end the album.

The awesome song, "Pitiless".

In Conclusion

Judgement is a very good album. It is best listened to in moderation, however, as it has a tendency to become irritating after listening to it for a long time. It’s got a unique style, and many beautiful songs to boast. I personally prefer The Silent Enigma, but that’s mainly because I am much more into death doom metal than progressive rock music. That album is also a more consistent listen, to be completely honest. I would recommend this to those who like depressive sounding prog rock music, and fans of Anathema’s other work. Doom metal fans might appreciate this, but it’s not essential to that genre. Check out a few of the songs I’ve included in this article- if you like them, then go ahead and listen to the whole thing.

Best songs: “Deep”, “Pitiless”, “Don’t Look Too Far”, “Emotional Winter”, “Judgement”, and “Wings of God”.

Which song is your favorite from Judgement?

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