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After the mildly disappointing Alternative 4, Anathema strikes back with Judgement. Upon first listen, the music and message seem a bit mellow for these doomy metal moguls. Second listen is like a magical rediscovery of a lost art form, the art of creating simple, depressing hard rock that is so emotionally expressive that it bends one's own constitution. Quiet and introspective on songs like "One Last Goodbye" and "Anyone, Anywhere," Anathema has the ability to spew forth raw, volcanic pain on cuts like "Judgement" and "Pitiless" -- the last of which contains the most heart-wrenching solo the Cavanagh brothers have ever penned. Drummer John Douglas also surprises, making an amazing contribution to the album, by writing two of the most memorable songs, "Don't Look Too Far" and "Wings of God." The first is a gorgeous Porcupine Tree-like tune with somewhat upbeat female vocals and melodies. "Wings of God," on the other hand, seems to be a literal interpretation of the album cover, which appears to be God's blinding eye looking down upon the cursed world. One will be amazed at how unconventionally heavy this album really is. It even has a tendency to sap one's strength, upon repeated encounters. Judgement is truly a blinding masterpiece, which pierces the senses with its intensity. Hail Anathema's sorrowful return!

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