Anathema - _Judgement_
(Music for Nations, 1999)
by: Pedro Azevedo (
"As ye sow, so shall ye weep" is the inscription upon a photo by former Anathema vocalist Darren White on the back cover of the _Judgement_ digipak. A promising sign for this lyrically rich album, as is more than usually the case with Anathema. With the departure of influential bass player and part-time songwriter and lyricist Duncan Patterson (replaced by Dave Pybus) and the return of original drummer John Douglas, Anathema seem to have entered a whole new stage in their career, having inclusively signed a four record deal with Music for Nations (therefore leaving Peaceville after about seven years with them). With all these changes, Anathema reappear with a new and even more remarkable album just a year after the release of _Alternative 4_. However, ever since _The Silent Enigma_, Anathema have progressively been losing their once great ability to create powerful crescendos that were carefully built and then exploded in rage and anguish, as in "The Silent Enigma", "A Dying Wish", "Restless Oblivion" and "Sunset of Age", and that is the one thing that _Judgement_ really lacks and practically the only reason why I'm not giving it a 10 out of 10. Only one song comes anywhere close to achieving this, although in a different way, which is "Emotional Winter" -- the guitar at the beginning of which reminded me of _Love Over Gold_-era Dire Straits. Daniel Cavanagh's unique sorrowful guitar style also continues to drift away from the old _The Silent Enigma_ days, and some more of what he used to do back then would have been welcome here (his guitar work is still excellent, but different). The same can be said about Vincent Cavanagh's voice: though technically superior, his ability to create powerful contrasts through the occasional use of a harsher style has been practically forsaken since _The Silent Enigma_ -- nowadays it would hardly fit in the music anyway and only much smaller contrasts are created. _Judgement_ is nevertheless overall superior to both _Alternative 4_ and _Eternity_ -- this hour-long, fourteen-track album (including the "Transacoustic" digipak bonus track) contains a lot of material that might deserve a 10 out of 10 rating by itself; songs like "Parisienne Moonlight", "Emotional Winter", "Anyone, Anywhere", "One Last Goodbye", "Forgotten Hopes" and "Deep". Vincent Cavanagh's ever-improving clean vocals join the piano and the increasingly frequent acoustic guitars to weave a truly impressive and beautiful album that shows Anathema maturing and perfecting this current style of theirs once again. To put it simply, this is soft, remarkably beautiful and heartfelt-sounding, doomy, -excellent- emotional music.
(article published 7/7/1999)
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