Anathema – Judgement (1999)

For me, I find that Judgement is the perfect sound for Anathema. If you’ve read a few of these posts, by now you should notice that I like to find a balancing point between the sound a band starts with and then eventually works their way towards. I like to lay out albums in my mind and try and see how groups get from one stage to the other; what changes and why. Judgement, in my mind at least, is the middle ground in the Anathema journey from miserably slow and heavy doom metal to the post-rock influenced alternative rock outfit they are today. With Anathema’s current range of sounds and influences, it is probably unfair to dismiss their current output as such, but there are only so many words you can use to describe a certain sound without coming across like a pretentious dick.

The cover to this record is deceiving; by looking at it one would expect something altogether more doomy, and whilst some of the songs do have a fairly heavy clout, you will find that most of the fuzz is toned back in lieu of softer textures and more subtle song structures. “Deep” sets things off with a fairly balanced approach to what I am talking about here: the drums are heavy and you keep expecting it to kick in but it doesn’t, it stays a soft, clean guitar-led track. The songs continue in this vein for a while, including my favourite of this album, “One Last Goodbye”, which is a terrifically sad and moving song about the death of a loved one. This at least, gets a bit of clout building behind it.

“Parisienne Moonlight” which follows it is one of my least favourite Anathema songs, but the scores of songs that follow afterward soon put this little hiccup to bed. My digipak version of this album finishes with the bonus track “Transacoustic”, which whilst not really offering anything more to the album as a whole, is quite a nice piece of music. Like I said at the start, Judgement is the definitive Anathema sound, but probably won’t ever rank too high on my personal scale. Still, it’s well worth a listen, if just to check it out. Be sure to have some tissues at the ready!