The unsung British epitome of atmospheric gloom, ANTIMATTER, almost managed to slip their latest studio effort, entitled “A Profusion of Thought,” completely under my music radar. Released via Just For Kicks Music on November 18th, 2022, this 10-track studio installment is the outfit’s eighth in total. Originally formed in the late 1990s by Duncan Patterson, the former bassist and songwriter of ANATHEMA, this artistic outlet has long been the solo project of Mick Moss, who picked up the pieces when Patterson left the band in 2004. I believe I’m not alone with my thoughts if I dare say that his 2007 offering, “Leaving Eden,” still stands out as a straight-up masterpiece in terms of exploring the darker side of human emotions. Moss has since released a good number of outstanding albums under the moniker and yet, each time a new selection pops out of the oven, I feel tempted to cross-reference it with this one haunting monolith. This new endeavor is no exception. So, let’s get down and dirty to see how it fares.
The album opener, “No Contact,” definitely sets the bar high; in a way, the song is like the twin brother of “Redemption” that opened “Leaving Eden” except that, in this case, Moss creates the same emotional impact with far more minimalistic means. The song is built upon a simple guitar arpeggio and hyaline synth textures that slowly gather momentum with a few added elements, such as distorted guitars and an inspired saxophone solo. Sure, it helps an awful lot that Moss has a voice that’s layered with enough gravitas to fill a small venue. I was lucky enough to see ANTIMATTER play an acoustic set at Semifinal, Helsinki, on that 2013 European tour, and it was genuinely spine-tingling to witness how, equipped only with an acoustic guitar and accompanied by the piano work of Vic Anselmo, he dominated the stage with his forceful voice. It is a cross between the post-grungey rasp of, say, Gavin Rossdale of BUSH and a man who’s cut perhaps one too many deals with the devil.
Next, “Paranoid Carbon” perfectly balances between the electronica-infested verses of that smoky and gloomy mid-1990s Bristol variety and the gritty, guitar-driven choruses. Perhaps exactly due to this alluring interplay between the almost MASSIVE–ATTACK-like electronica sections and the somewhat old-schoolish alternative-rock outbursts, I would even go as far as to say that this song is one of the absolute standout tracks on the outing. The song does not plunge headlong into the pre-millennial, spliff-induced paranoia of vintage trip-hop, but flirts with the darker shades of film noir electronica prominently enough to get stuck in my head for days. Two tracks into the album and I’m like, “Yass! This goes straight to my Album of the Year list!” – and it really did.
The vocals in “Paranoid Carbon” resonate perhaps with the most robust air of Gavin Rossdale from the heyday of BUSH. It’s a funny observation because, musically, the follow-up track, “Heathen,” could basically be a BUSH song from “The Science of Things” era, rather than “Paranoid Carbon,” maybe excluding the fascinating saxophone bursts. What feels funny about it, for me at least, is the fact that I have never felt, not until now, that there could be much in common with these two acts, as brilliant as they both are in their own right. I’ve always thought that BUSH has more to do with the alternative metal -flavored rock scene of the mid-to-late 1990s and ANTIMATTER is anything but. Then again, Mick Moss‘ voice has been said to fall within the range of many of those 1990s voices, ranging from Eddie Vedder of PEARL JAM to Jason Ross of SEVEN MARY THREE, with the common denominator obviously being that innate capability of speaking volumes with very subtle moves.
“Templates” is maybe even more haunting of an affair; it is a hymn driven by a hypnotizing synth bassline and creeping melancholy, one that explodes into a tsunami of distortion around the 4-minute marker. These two tracks should be enough to sprout a legacy of fan obsession a mile wide for years to come. I’m already a convicted felon in this respect, so – fuck yes! – this is the album that I’ll be hyper-fixating on for the next couple of weeks!
In Japan, there is an art called kintsugi in which the cracks of broken objects are repaired by filling them with gold. The underlying philosophy is that the cracks of a broken object are its scars – a story that must be told – and by turning the scars into gold, one makes them unique and valuable. “Fold” touches on the subject in nothing short of a haunting way. So far, each track on the album has kind of begged to be put on repeat, quite instantly, so I guess I could safely say that “A Profusion of Thought” is by far the best, most heart-wrenching, and haunting ANTIMATTER offering to date – and the rest of the songs do not let me down in this regard. Among the most spectral highlights are songs such as “Redshift” and “Entheogen.” I’d say it’s a hallmark of a very special album that you feel tempted to put almost every song on repeat immediately after the first listen.
ANTIMATTER efforts have, bar none, been dubbed extremely weighty, both musically and lyrically, time and time again. “A Profusion of Thought” is no exception to this legacy; it is a haunting new chapter in the story that seems to get more poignant with every new installation. As someone had said about the previous endeavor, “Black Market Enlightenment,” (2018) it takes experience and maturity to make an album like that – let alone an album like this. So, juxtaposed against the 2007 masterpiece, I feel inclined to say that this latest installment does not shy away in the slightest.
Written by Jani Lehtinen
- No Contact
- Paranoid Carbon
- Fools Gold
- Breaking the Machine
- Kick the Dog
Mick Moss – vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards
Liam Edwards – drums
Irish C – additional vocals
Just For Kicks Music