Review Summary: An old friend from the past
There are certain albums (and songs) which, even though I hold dear to my heart, simply refuse to jam anymore; these aren’t many, but still, it hurts to be unable to experience the joy of listening to something that you used to love. One of those cases is Alternative 4
and the reason that I can’t bring myself to listen to it anymore has less to do with the music and more with everything else surrounding Anathema’s, arguably, masterpiece. Unfortunately, the Liverpudlians never tried to replicate it since it was mostly Duncan Patterson’s baby and also because the recording of A4
was a miserable time for them. Nevertheless, the colossal Judgement
sweetened the pill and marked the beginning of a new era for one of the pioneers of doom/death metal… an era which saw them move further and farther away from metal.
Now, you may wonder where does the above rant fit in this review, and the reason is simply because, emotionally, Black Market Enlightenment
fills the void created by the aforementioned albums; a void never filled by Anathema. To make a long story short, Antimatter’s seventh LP is similar to a modernized version of Judgement
instrumentation with vocals that bring to mind Vinnie Cavanagh’s haunting performance on Alternative 4
. For example, the 3:10 mark of opener “The Third Arm” screams Judgement
in every good way, while the use of the guitar on parts of “This is not Utopia” might bring to your mind Pink Floyd. In fact, the way Mick Moss uses the lead guitar in order to create tension and boost the emotional charge of each song, is exemplary. In addition, the use of saxophone and qamancha on “Sanctification” and “Existential” help in the dynamics department and even add a cinematic aspect to the music.
Despite the previous correlations, Black Market Enlightenment
has more than enough of its own character in order to avoid being characterized as a derivative; and how can it not have so much character when the lyrics are so personal, dealing with Moss’ issues such as substance abuse and existential crisis" It is obvious that this album is a cathartic experience for the creator. As a result, his emotional delivery is not a coincidence, nor the fact that even though the songwriting is extremely solid, his vocals are arguably the highlight here.
Overall, Antimatter’s latest release is consistent and varied; consistent due to the strong songwriting throughout, and varied as it blends atmospheric rock, doom metal, and progressive rock while enhancing them with electronic and oriental elements. Therefore, it is not only a melancholic trip down memory lane for those who experienced atmospheric rock in the ‘90s, but also a guide for playing emotionally-charged rock with substance.