The origins of Liverpool’s ANTIMATTER date back to the late 1990s when Mick Moss and Duncan Patterson joined forces. It was around this time that Duncan parted company with ANATHEMA, a band for whom he had played Bass for a number of years and had been responsible for penning a good number of familiar tracks during his time with the band.
It is no surprise then that ANATHEMA will be referenced when ANTIMATTER is discussed, but this is just a starting point. The comparison to a familiar name could be a frustration for many acts (think of how the “O” band creep into any Progressive Death Metal conversation), but it an important one to make here. Both bands share friendships and the inspiration of the same part of the often bleak North of England, a region synonymous with some of the more sombre and melancholic bands over the years. Beyond this, Danny and Jamie Cavanagh have helped out with contributions to ANTIMATTER as well. In short, fans of one band are likely to find something they also love in the other band.
The project is difficult to categorise due to its ever-changing nature. The development of ANTIMATTER has been a varied one, taking in various different styles and each release differing from the last. The debut album “Saviour” was based around Dark Electronica, verging on Triphop, with predominantly female vocals from 2 guests. Since then the band have evolved through dark acoustic releases and, since Duncan’s departure, to a full electric band. Even the early experimentation with Dance rhythms was always brooding and at times uncomfortable.
An impressive 2010 retrospective release called “Alternative Matter” again cast new light over some of the past output, but allowed a line to be drawn under the previous evolution and provided a blank canvas for the new material.
The fifth and latest album, “Fear Of A Unique Identity” is the most well rounded and accomplished album in the catalogue to date. As the title suggests, the nine tracks centre around a theme of alienation and the need to fit in with one’s surroundings so as to avoid unwanted attention to the point where following the masses seems the safe option. It is a truly damning narrative of the increasingly grey and malignant environment that too many people seem to embrace in modern society.
Musically, the vocals benefit from guitars, bass and drums, along with synths and violin to create dark Rock atmospheres. Liverpool has a proud musical heritage and this shines through, along with influences from the likes of Ultravox, Gary Numan and the New Wave Movement that emerged from Punk in the 1970s. It is glowering, reflective and bleak, but modern, accessible and at times very beautiful. Mick is blessed with one of those rich, warm voices breathing life into every note and is at times complimented by outstanding additions from Latvian songstress Vic Anselmo. In my opinion, Mick has to be counted amongst the best of the vocalists in Rock Music today.
ANTIMATTER is in no way a heavy project, but is intense, dark, captivating and memorable. The album opens strongly with the infectiously catchy opener “Paranova”, building from a minimal drum beat at the start to a rousing chorus and an introduction to the album. It is difficult to pick out individual tracks as they are all strong, varied Electro Rock and Acoustic Rock. Lead Video track from the album is the hook-laden “Uniformed & Black”, which like the opener is nudging at the periphery of radio play and mainstream Rock accessibility. An instrumental “The Parade” eases us to the closing track of the main album and a mellow little number called “A Place In The Sun” which proves that dark and unsettling direct lyrics can be delivered very gently with maximum effect.
ANTIMATTER is clearly a labour of love for Mr. Moss, with all music and lyrics solely from him. He holds a tight rein on all aspects of the project and has seemingly unified elements of all the previous albums into his finest musical achievement to date. Knowing that he had written the album he really wanted, it signalled a time for a return to the old collaboration between ANTIMATTER and Prophecy Productions following some self-released albums. The label had supported the act in its formative years and with this latest release has given the album greater exposure and a number of formats with deserved great care and attention given to the premium versions.
(Online April 8, 2013)