Review Summary: The most depressing band in the world?
Antimatter have been referred to as the most depressing band in the world, and while I don’t know if that is true I can safely say that if they’re not at the top of that list then they’re at least close. This honorary title might come as less of a surprise to those that already knew that Duncan Patterson (ex-Anathema
) made up half the duo known as Antimatter and that other people connected to Anathema routinely had guest appearances as well. If you’ve noticed I’m referring to Duncan Patterson in the past tense it is because after the release of their third album, Planetary Confinement
, he left in order to focus on other projects which left Mick Moss alone to handle all of the song writing duties. When 50% of a writing team leaves it is pretty safe to assume that things are going to change, and they did.
In the past there was always an electronic element present and even a large trip-hop influence on their first two albums, but that is entirely gone here. Instead we get mellow acoustic-based rock that takes elements of Pink Floyd
and metal (not far removed from mid-era Anathema) and injects an overwhelming sense of hopelessness into the mix. That basic setup is complimented by subtle violins and keyboards which are interspersed with moments of distorted guitar outbursts. Another element that has been removed entirely is the use of female vocals which used to serve as a nice change from the songs that Mick Moss sang on. The loss of these elements have unfortunately hurt the overall effectiveness of the album because it just starts to feel monotonous and redundant by the end when it is forced to make due with what little it still has to work with.
It should be made clear that when taken individually the songs are great, it is only when taken as a total package that things begin to become repetitive. It may be for that exact reason that opening track, “Redemption”, is the best song on the album because as an opener its elements still sound fresh and new. “Redemption” is just as I described the entire album earlier, utilizing acoustic guitars and subtle keyboards to create a morose atmosphere, and later dropping a few distorted riffs to compliment the floyd-ish guitar solo; standard operating procedure for this album. The element I haven’t got to yet is the vocals of Mick Moss whose voice is one of the main things that sets this band apart and contributes heavily to the depressing nature of the music.
Mick’s voice sticks to a low-to-mid register that just overflows with negative emotion. In fact, I’d say that he is able to convey emotion through his vocals better then almost anyone I’ve heard and is a large factor in making the songs as powerful as they are. Another great element of his vocal style is that he sings the whole time; there aren’t any screams or growls at all, just beautifully depressed singing. The one negative I have about his vocals is that his range is limited, and although he never tries to move outside his natural ability it does lead to some of the monotony I spoke of earlier (which is why the loss of female vocals is a bigger deal).
I can’t say that I am entirely happy with this album due to the loss of what I considered key elements to their sound and the resulting repetitiveness that seems to plague this album as a result, but that doesn’t mean the songs themselves are not good. When taken three or four songs at a time this album is near-classic, but as a whole it leaves a lot to be desired. For those that are fans of the band it is still a no-brainer to pick this up and just listen to it in spurts, but for those that haven’t heard them I have other recommendations: For those that won’t mind the trip-hop and electronic influences mixed in with the elements described above then get Saviour
, and for those that want something similar to this album but with more variation then check out Planetary Confinement
, and only after those two acquisitions should you check this out too.