Antimatter-Black Market Enlightenment

060119


The Liverpool based Antimatter has been the long time project of Mick Moss who took the reins after fellow founder Duncan Patterson parted ways in 2005 leaving Moss as the sole director of the project's destiny. While the earlier albums were a quirky mix of dark electronica with Goth rock-tinged trip hop graced with feminine goddess vocals, the newer releases since 2012's "Fear Of A Unique Identity," has found Moss going more into the alternative rock arena with the complexities getting more sophisticated leading him into the progressive rock world. It's been three years since "The Judas Table" and Antimatter is back with “Black Market Enlightenment”  which continues the trend of mixing borderline heavy alternative rock / Goth metal with progressive almost neo-prog symphonic splendor.
While the previous album had a more stripped down effect this album expands the dimensions of the elements set forth once Moss essentially went solo. This album's theme is that of drug addiction and tackles the extremely heavy subject matter in the lyrical department while creating a dark and lugubrious musical backdrop to push it forward. The material is some of the most complex that the band has done with a sense of melancholy that hangs over the album like a lingering black cloud but very effective indeed as the impeccably produced mix and excellent compositions create one of the rare instances where Gothic rock and progressive rock work so well together. This is surely one of the most tense listens of the year as it walks a tightrope between complete emotional breakdown and a sense of suppressed rage waiting to explode but somehow keeps its cool throughout its run.
While Mick Moss is the sole member who plays acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, bass and provides vocals, the album also adds four extra musicians providing flute, saxophone, drums and a traditional Iranian bowed string instrument called the kamancheh (also kamanche, kamancha or qamancha.) There are also two female vocalists that provide a feminine touch on backing vocals. While the creepy mid-tempo music adds an almost shoegazy sort of guitar distortion with Moss' Gothic vocal style leading the way, the Middle Eastern percussive drives and the kamancheh take the music to an eerie new world where various strains of reality intersect in an unfamiliar way. The synthesizer rich darkwave atmospheric overcast keeps this one in the clouds like a perpetual brain fog that is tuned into some foreign radio station that is set to sadness.
Like most Gothic related music whether it exist in the extremities of metal or the more sensual touches of the Nick Cave camp, this music is eerily romantic and fragile. While the music generally creeps along, the Middle Eastern drumming can become energetic especially on tracks like "Essential," and while the guitar heft is mostly reserved as an atmospheric generator with echoey distortion, it is also implemented to create some metal riffs that chug along to add a sense of crescendo to the mostly stoic and detached emotional tug of war. Moss' vocal style is very limited as he sings in a low register but has mastered the art of eking out emotional responses with subtle vocal vibrato and tantalizing trills. While this album has been accused of moving more to the world that Anathema (which ironically ex-founder Duncan Patterson played in) has carved out and there is some truth to that, the mood remains more reserved and much more dependent on the darkwave synthesizer dominated atmospheric touches to convey its overall plan.
With utterly addictive composiitons that are instantly catchy and a nice interplay between the sensual acoustic, heavy electric and atmospheric elements, this album qualitatively connects the listener to the subject matter and draws you into the bleakness of the grimy world of substance abuse. The instantly catch tracks will hook you immediately but the sophisticated and subtle mix of the swirling storm of sonic interplay will keep you coming back for more. This album is considered heavier than previous ones and offers just enough bombast to create the perfect corrivalry of musical elements. Antimatter is not only back but seems to be getting better with each new album.


Review: Jens Bertjens © 2019
Rating: 4.13 out of 5