Alternative rock is a hard thing to truly excel at in the eyes of critics. The genre itself contains all sorts of influences, leading to a conglomeration of ideas that can either be the leading part of a bands success, or the one thing that keeps them from breaking through to the forefront. Compound this with the fact that the genre is readily available for dissection by, quite literally, everyone given its ambiguous nature, and you have a situation of trying pleasing everybody (or even just an obscenely large portion of listeners). So it’s then a band’s job to try to reach an audience of listeners who not only want something fresh and different, but also something not so overtly foreign as to scare them away. The bands that can straddle the line between artfulness and familiarity tend to have the most success as a result, and those who lean too far one way or the other tend to struggle.
So looking at long time genre regulars Antimatter, it’s clear to see where they’d rather tread. With a background strong in ambiance and electronica, the band isn’t a strong contender for commercial success by any stretch, but there is little doubt that their blend of dark, brooding gothic atmospheres with alternative instrumentation could be make them a critical forerunner much like that of like-minded contemporaries’ Anathema. Structurally, every song is similar, a small guitar lick or piano riff leading us through a dark, lonely soundscape, eventually joined by the heavier distorted guitars and Mick Moss’s Vedder-esque vocals. Violins enter the fray on occasion, adding a grandiose sense to the entire affair, as well as giving a much needed sense of hope to what is ultimately a very depressing LP.
The album is a good listen, to be sure. No one will accuse Antimatter of being lazy or incompetent in honing their craft. The problem here, and one that I think is rather blatantly obvious by now to anyone that has followed their recent work, is the use of tone shifts. And by use, I mean utter disuse. Everything is sad. By the end of the album, you’re left to wonder why the band bothers to keep going in life if everything is this drab and dreary. I think this is where Antimatter has their biggest misstep. The overarching depression that looms over the record is unquestionably an intentional move for Antimatter as artists, but in a genre such as alternative rock the one-emotion-fits-all approach can become a glaring issue. Putting it bluntly, it makes parts of this disinteresting and bland. Any songs with any semblance of energy are standouts as a result, while the slower and brooding side of things tends to fade together and be forgotten.
Fear of an Unique Identity is full of strong ideas that could potentially be groundbreaking within the genre, but lacks the emotional ‘oomph’ to get noticed, and it’s a pity because some of these songs are quite outstanding on their own. But when listened to as a whole, it comes up short. It could easily be likened to reasonably good food with an unpleasant aftertaste. Antimatter has presented us with a partially satisfying album, but one that could easily have been so much more with if the band would have had the sense to add some sort of dynamical shift or ‘mainstream’ idea into the shuffle (regardless of how much some may curse the thought).
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I have the first three albums of these guys, and the situation that you describe here is identical to the one in Planetary Confinement.
a broad spectrum of all sorts of influences
a broad spectrum of influences
a recipe for an impossible situation of trying pleasing everybody
of trying to please everybody
So it’s then a band’s job to try to reach an audience of listeners who not only want something fresh and different within a genre that tends to be anything but those things, but also not so overtly foreign that it would scare the listener away
In that light, alt rock bands aim to reach their distinct audience and sound original within a genre, whose margins for originality and commercial success, have been narrowed substantially in previous years.
I always have problem with reviewers reviewing bands that are absolutely outstanding in their genre. Is it 3 as in the "Antimatter" own right? I mean comparing to their other releases? Or 3 in general? This album is totally classic, but I agree that it's sad. Is it really? Some parts of it definitely, but there is something elevating in this melodies also. Especially Firewalking gives me a kick everytime I listen to it. "Here come the men" and "monochrome (alternative demo)" is just pure butt-kicking. This is a definite 5 to me, just as everything they've ever done. Moss is a modern day bard, a pure fucking genious. Deep as hell, with beautiful voice, emotional and sad. This album is somehow "cleansing" for me. A medium to communicate with certain types of emotions. This is the kind of music that brings hope that no everything went for shit and there still are artists who make music just because they love doing this. Don't you feel an infinite love for music, this overwhelming creative passion while listening to it? I believe there is a huge missconception about "sadness" in music. It's not depressive if you don't carry depression with you to your listening experience but rather a stand off against conformity and uniformity. About the fear of being unique. At least this is how I perceive the lyrics and the music.
This was my first Antimatter disc, period. So previous albums did nothing to the weight I gave this. Also, I don't feel that 'sadness' is a bad thing, it's incessant, over the top, strangling sadness in every single song that becomes monotonous. It makes the album hard for me to listen to completely through because I just want to go hug a puppy at some point. Opinions.
"I believe there is a huge missconception about "sadness" in music. It's not depressive if you don't carry depression with you to your listening experience but rather a stand off against conformity and uniformity. About the fear of being unique. At least this is how I perceive the lyrics and the music."