Any Colour You Like
*Warning, your depression will not be helped by this album*
Having been passed on to Anathema by a friend, I managed to pick up a copy of Judgement, their 1999 album. On first listen, I was deeply impressed by the melodic power of the guitar work. The riffs are not particularly extreme or technical, but have a wonderful melancholic tone, mixing slow, dread-filled doom, with more upbeat melodic rock. The Cavanagh brothers show themselves to be very adept at writing mournful songs, with aching lyrics, (One Last Goodbye) bone-crunching riffs. (Pitiless) With all the band members all contributing to lyrics and music, the album feels wonderfully succinct and well crafted.
One of the first things that struck me was the depressing lyrics. I love depressing music, it has a clarity and truthfulness about it that other emotions lack, yes, some may not like the bleak lyrical content; but if you like Porcupine Tree, Riverside, Devin Townsend et al, Anathema's lyrics should feel just right. While this album could be considered weak Doom Metal, or in a similar vein, the music itself is quite accessible. Metal fans will enjoy the riffing and dark atmosphere, while progressive fans will enjoy the more subtle nuances interspersed between powerful riffing and mellow vocals. Despite the obvious power of the album, on both a musical and emotional level, I would not consider the album to be especially progressive. Don't expect blazing technicality, nor eclectic divergences. Judgement is a solid, if unadventurous album.
What makes this album worthy of great respect is the palpable emotion in the music. Few songs have made me feel initially so blue as One Last Goodbye, a song written for the Cavanagh's mother, who had died before the record was made. Judgement is a very competent album, that unfortunately suffers from its own being. It is so amazingly mellow and melodic, that it just blurs the music into one without really grabbing the listener for more than a few moments. This is a minor gripe, for the majority of the album, it is more than satisfying. Think of it as a chill out album, with melodic metal riffs and depressing lyrics. By all means, don't be afraid to try Judgement, you just might find a reflective side of your personality... in a good way.