American IV: The Man Comes Around(Lost Highway)

Any album that begins with a reading from the Book Of Revelation has a lot to live up to. Luckily, as Johnny Cash has grown older (he's now 70), his famously rumbling voice has become an absolute force of nature, the kind of sound that could herald the end of the world.

Indeed, the most compelling moments of The Man Comes Around, John's best album in eight years, are downright apocalyptic. The title cut conjures the biblical day of reckoning, while a pair of alternative-rock covers - Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt" and Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus" -- are transformed by that monumental voice into awe-inspiring spiritual struggles.

-- Chris Neal

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