Review Summary: dark, atmospheric rock for those who want to stare directly into the void and see themselves in the reflection
There are many recordings in the realm of rock and metal that deal with depression and trauma from the angle of understanding and comfort, wishing to relate with your struggles and console you. Black Market Enlightenment does not do this. This is a recording that makes you see the depths of your own despair in their most brazen reality. The raw struggle that Mick Moss, vocalist and sole songwriter renders onto this recording is so tangible that that it makes you realise your own insecurities in their most terrifying form. It is a dense, alienating and compelling work that sucks you into its paranoid world.
Perhaps you're wondering why a review of this album is coming two years afters its release. Put simply, it's how long it took for me to come out of my own mental trap that this album so aptly describes, and it accompanied me through both my fall and long, long climb back. It made me realise how far I had fallen into my disassociation with tracks like 'Wish I Was Here', so poetically describing how it feels to perceive the world around me but feel as if I'm not experiencing it or a part of it. The mood of the track is so enigmatic in that it neither feels uplifting or downtrodden but its evocative use of massive distorted chords and ebow make their contemporaries Anathema look like fools. Its flow so fluidly weaving between a diverse set of brass, strong bass presence and huge rock explosions with an incredible vocal flourish from Mick and guest Carla Lewis.
'The Third Arm' opens the album with its dark, foreboding mood and devastating climax - ebow utilised to great effect with a slow moving, snare-heavy drum beat. It made me realise my own self-destructive behaviours that were driving others away from me and the chances that I had squandered. 'Liquid Light' follows a similar structure, closing out the album, equally devastating and uncompromisingly referring to the names of dead musicians who fell into substance abuse from mental health issues. It made be so immensely paranoid of my own mental health and how deeply I was spiralling. The whole album is a dense, sobering suite that makes you question your own mind.
Many dense recordings face the challenge of not feeling varied but Antimatter do a better job than most bands. The vast array of instrumentation helps the palette, and it's honestly an impressive feat to fit saxaphone, flute, qamancha and a vast array of synth onto one album and have none of it feel unsightly. It does begin to blend together but it's hard to criticise this too much when back to front the quality never falters. Structurally each track tries a different approach, and the thick, warm nature of the instrumentation and mix can make it difficult to follow each song, it makes it no less sonically pleasing just to be taken along for the ride.
This is Antimatter at their most honest, brazen and poignant. In comparison, bands like Anathema feels like a hug from a friend. I'd struggle to suggest many albums of its kind that can match this album in its harrowing, sobering nature. This is dark, atmospheric rock for those who want to stare directly into the void and see themselves in the reflection. A record that I can now listen to knowing I've been as low as I feel I can go and made it back. Tread carefully.