Review Summary: simplicity isn’t always a virtue.
VNV Nation’s music is fairly straightforward, but this hasn’t caused too many problems for them. Their songwriting has always been strong, and despite repeating many similar chords, they consistently create excellent music. They do not stumble often, and considering their large discography, their talent is extraordinary. However, no band is perfect, and Judgement
seems to be one of their disappointments. Surrounded by two fantastic albums, I suppose you can’t win them all. Judgement
is like the rest of their albums, only dry and tasteless, much like stale bread. You can chew on it all you want, but the album isn’t really worth the effort that it takes to digest it.
Matter + Form
was simple, but it worked; although this album attempts simplicity as well, it falls flat on its face. In Judgement
they attempt to play their futurepop style more abrasively, losing the intrigue of their music in the process. To be fair, the album isn’t all that different from previous albums. In fact, it plays out like a Matter + Form
part 2, but we all know that part 2 is usually the weaker effort. The songs are still catchy, with great lyrics as per usual, but VNV Nation’s epic, melodic atmosphere has essentially been drained. The effort is there, but the soundscape created by synthesizers is surprisingly minimal, and the music suffers from it. After all, futurepop is heavily reliant on synthesizers, so when that goes amiss, you know you’re in trouble. Basically, they tried too hard to keep things simple, and the album suffers for it.
The songs are good, of course, but they could have been so much better. It’s sad really, because you can hear their attempt at repeating the success of their last album. In the album are ambient sections to create a smooth listening experience, a cinematic feel that gives it just the right amount of drama. Unfortunately, the songs surrounding them are lacking power themselves, rendering the ambient sections pointless. When I say power, I am not referring to the type of power that one can achieve by enslaving thousands of people and making them build the pyramids, I am talking about musicality. Sure, their ambient songs have powerful melodies, but why did their futurepop songs have to be left without them? The songs are technically written well, but considering their insipidity, Judgement
is a forgettable and bland effort from VNV Nation.