Title: Black Market Enlightenment
Genre: Dark Rock / Progressive Rock / Dark Ambient
Release Date: 23rd November 2018
Label: Music In Stone
Seven albums in, and UK Dark-Rock outfit ANTIMATTER shift further from their roots of Gothic-Trip-Hop, and closer to ANATHEMA territory - indeed original member Duncan Patterson was once a member of that band. ‘Black Market Enlightenment’ sees sole member Mick Moss take on most of the instrumentation and vocal duties, with a smattering of guest musicians and plenty of flute, Quamancha (no, me neither) and saxophone to keep things lively.
It’s a good solid start. ‘The Third Arm’ is a brooding, pulsing mood-setter, gentle guitar weaving subtly around the vocals, joined by 3am drums and an overall structure reminiscent of MARILLION (mk2) at their best. The atmosphere builds wonderfully through the loud and soft shades of the majestic ‘Wish I Was Here’, the tension and emotion in Mick Moss’ singing just steering clear of the overwrought, the chiming guitars just avoiding cliché - even the flute solo doesn’t feel out of place, something which on paper admittedly sounds excruciating. Oh and there’s a spoken word section - another potential no-go area that the song ably pulls off and incorporates successfully into the sprawling whole.
‘This Is Not Utopia’ rumbles along nicely enough, and ‘Partners In Crime’, despite some slightly dubious rhyming issues, presents a wall-of-sound slab of angsty rock. ‘Sanctification’ eases itself into life with a quiet sophistication - there’s a lot going on but it all sounds fluid and naturally put together, until the jarring and superfluous saxophone judders you from your reverie. I confess to a profound dislike of the instrument - or rather how it is often shoehorned into songs. Unfair? Probably. It’s a really good song though, let’s leave it at that.
‘Existential’ falters as it buries a good melody between an increasingly irritating cacophony, wallowing somewhat in the excesses that flirtations with Prog-rock often throw up. The short but sweet ‘What Do You Want Me To Do’ acts a break, or a bridge, before the full-on guitar throb of ‘Between The Atoms’, eight (slightly) long minutes full of menace and intrigue. It’s big and loud and shows off a lot, but it’s hard not to like. Which leaves ‘Liquid Light’ to bring the album to a close, and it does so much as things began. Dark and dense and brooding, it builds into a glorious climax, and an excellent end to a consistently melancholic and at times darkly beautiful set of songs.
A leap forward for ANTIMATTER, this album is mature, well-crafted and resists being over-long or bloated with technical playing. It occasionally sags, but on the whole the persistent atmosphere and taut song-writing makes this one a win. And as the cold, dark winter sets in, this could easily soundtrack it.
01. The Third Arm
02. Wish I Was Here
03. This Is Not Utopia
04. Partners In Crime
07. What Do You Want Me To Do
08. Between The Atoms
09. Liquid Light
Mick Moss - Vocals, bass, guitars, e-bow, keyboards, programming
http://www.antimatteronline.com / https://www.facebook.com/antimatteronline
Total: 8 / 10