Review Summary: With Planetary Confinement, Antimatter give a lesson in depressing atmospherics that shouldn't be missed.
Antimatter is a band I wasn’t very familiar with until fairly recently. I knew that they were a duo and I had heard many great things about them, mainly in the vein of, “most depressing band in the world”. That was hard to believe at first, considering I have heard some albums that would definitely make kicking that chair out from under yourself a little easier. I was surprised upon first listen by this band, I wouldn’t call it the most depressing thing I have heard necessarily, but it is definitely up there. This album, featuring almost all acoustic guitar playing, isn’t something to listen to down by the river on a bright sunny day, it’s an album that can really hit the spot when feeling worse than you'd prefer.
This album isn’t necessarily as consistent as it is just “good”. It has some really good tracks, but it also has some repetitive, less than interesting ones. This band has a tendency to really draw things out at a very slow pace, so if the song isn’t interesting to begin with, having it slow and repetitive doesn’t help its cause. Fortunately, when these guys manage to get a good song going, it can really take you away. Let’s look at “Line of Fire” for example; it’s probably the best track on the album, and features very good female vocals. It has a very serious, end of the world feeling to it. It seems to be about a relationship gone bad, but in a way more serious light than most bands put similar subject matter. This song plods along acoustically through most of its 6:26 running time until the drums quietly come in, building themselves up for a tribal sounding, thunderous conclusion. A standout track to say the least, and probably my favorite song on the album.
“Weight of the World”, “Epitaph” and “A Portrait of a Yong Man as an Artist”, are also standout tracks. Weight of the world features what sounds like a cello following the beautiful acoustic arrangement. When the drums finally come in about half way through the song, you are treated to one of the highlights of the album. Epitaph follows a similar structure, and if there is a song on here where the beauty of it outweighs the depression, it’s this one. “A Portrait of a young Man as an Artist” seems to be fairly repetitive in its nature all the way up until the bridge, which is amazing. A second acoustic comes in and plays a beautiful folk part that almost crosses into the realm of Bluegrass at points, subtle, but very engaging and atmospheric.
Unfortunately the second half of the album drags on quite a bit, mainly because a lot of the chord progressions sound very similar to the first half. Relapse has the same basic acoustic piece that plays through the whole song, there are no surprises and it sounds a lot like the other songs on the album, the female vocals help it a bit though, as they are very well done. Also, the rhythm at which the lyrics are delivered is actually pretty cool, and saves this song from being terrible. “Mr. White”, which is a cover from Doom Metal band Trouble, tends to drag and just isn’t interesting overall. I felt that the chorus of the song just didn’t work in their style. “Legions” isn’t necessarily a bad song by any means, it’s just that up until this point you have already heard everything that will be done in this song. It also suffers from being overly long, clocking in at 7:22, although the emotional ending is worth sticking around for.
“Planetary Confinement” (track one), and “Eternity Part 24” (the final track), are also a bit pointless in their execution, and failed attempts at creating atmosphere. The first track is strictly piano, something I would have no problem with if it were more engaging. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do anything interesting and doesn’t really come across as sad or beautiful. The last track starts out promising enough, with a decent acoustic piece being softly played. Then in the blink of an eye, it all drops off and an electronic section comes in and we get that for around 7 minutes. It was a terrible way to end the album and really didn’t add anything to it in my opinion.
Planetary Confinement is definitely an album to check out, it has very strong moments that are very much worth your time, and when it is strong, it is very strong. It can also be quite repetitive though, so it’s better in smaller doses. It’s also sad that the powerful, depressing atmosphere is sometimes ruined by the duos attempt at creating atmosphere, oddly enough. But if you’re ever looking at an empty bottle of Jack Daniels and the barrel of a .357… this would make great background music.