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Antimatter - Black Market Enlightenment (2018) - Review

Band: Antimatter
Album title: Black Market Enlightenment
Release date: 9 November 2018
Label: Music In Stone

01. The Third Arm
02. Wish I Was Here
03. This Is Not Utopia
04. Partners In Crime
05. Sanctification
06. Existential
07. What Do You Want Me To Do?
08. Between The Atoms
09. Liquid Light

Mick Moss' grand musical creation Antimatter returns with the album number seven, the enigmatically titled Black Market Enlightenment. This time on a new label, since the previous two were released by Prophecy Productions, it came out through Music In Stone, which is actually Mick's own label. But ok, I must confess that I'm a huge fan of Antimatter since the album Leaving Eden, that was the first album without Duncan Patterson (ex-Anathema, Ion, Alternative 4), and for me this new album is a pure masterwork, maybe the best and most complete album ever done by Antimatter, even though that it's hard to talk this way in the case of Antimatter, because as well the previous one, The Judas Table (2015) or Fear Of A Unique Identity (2012), not to mention Leaving Eden (2007) were all special albums from every possible point of view.

Antimatter's music touches the senses in a way that rare bands or artists can do, it has such a strong impact on listeners emotions that it crushes into your inner self like a blistering tide of sonic matter. Black Market Enlightenment is huge, it's a monumental album that captivates in an instant with its dramatic colossal soundscapes that are many times in my opinion unsatisfactorily described just as progressive rock; Antimatter is way more than just this. All the music and lyrics were made by Mick alone, but to create this emotionally charged masterpiece he has like always gathered some guest musicians, like for example Fab Regmann on drums, female vocalists Carla Lewis and too soon passed away siren Aleah Starbridge (Trees Of Eternity), Vardan Baghdasaryan playing Iranian traditional instrument qamancha, Paul Thomas on saxophone and Julie Rodaway playing flute.

Black Market Enlightenment offers nine songs that have a playing time of almost one hour. Each song brings something different, something unique and something almost otherworldly. Mick guides the listener through various states of emotions by combining melancholic atmospheric rock, doom metal, art rock, progressive rock, goth, post-rock, world music, oriental music and yet more into one of a kind homogenous work of art. As well it's one of the most dynamic and heterogeneous works ever done by this act, and sometimes I have a feeling that if Anathema after the A Natural Disaster album would became darker and wouldn't go into positive prog rock waters, or if Pink Floyd would have found enough dark matter somewhere on their road, and maybe if Pearl Jam would be born as melancholic darkers, then something alike might have come out, but we'll never know that and so we have Antimatter's Black Market Enlightenment instead.

The music is unmistakeable Antimatter, combining elements from all previous albums but adding new stuff that enriches the guitar driven soundscapes greatly. Like for example is use of subtle electronic samples, before mentioned instruments like flute in "Wish I Was Here" or saxophone in "This Is Not Utopia", but as well the addition of mystical oriental elements in moody "Existential" makes wonders and Mick should be only congratulated for how well he inserts those inside the compositions without ruining the vibe. There are so many addictive melodies and absolutely gorgeous refrains that will get under your skin in an instant. The deep drone bass in the amazing evocative opener "The Third Arm" or in the closing one named "Liquid Light" adds one more dimension to already flawless multilayered sound. Many times we hear sorrowful acoustic parts in the beginnings that evolve into dimensions unknown. I was blown away by gothic/doom of "Partners In Crime" or by strong vibrations of the scattering almost epic "Between The Atoms". There's always present a huge dose of melancholia, but with Mick's heartfelf emotional but powerful baritone vibrating voice, that sometimes sounds like a darker more emotional version of Eddie Vedder or even Brendan Perry, and addition of sensual female voices on just right places, everything regains some of necessary warmth in this story of darkness.

The ambiance is throughout mystical and dark enough to captivate also those into darker styles of rock and metal music. It's difficult to talk about highlights here, but I can expose "Sanctification" as the most complete and provoking song here, it so nicely encapsulates everything for what Antimatter stands for. Just listen how nicely it builds in tension until reaching the absolute climax when the saxophone appears before it transcends into mesmerizingly powerful ending. Mick is a master in creating flowing but at the same time such a dense and as well suspenseful dramatic music and that's evident in almost every single song on this album. I can easily say that even if many great albums were released this year, Black Market Enlightenment, is absolutely one of the best releases of 2018 and it would be a real shame if you don't discover what everything this album has to offer.

Review written by: T.V.
Rating: 10/10