Choosing to embark upon a concept album for you debut release is a bold move, but that hasn’t stopped Antier, a two-man post-progressive-rock outfit from Barcelona, from doing just that. According to their official press release, De La Quimera, El Dolor, which roughly translates as From Illusion Comes Pain, aims to describe “the emotional result of the loss of a dream.”
Guitarist Victor Gil and drummer/vocalist Santiago Arderiu have worked for two years on the project, which was initially planned to be instrumental until, as Gil explains, “Santi came to the rehearsal room with a little surprise: the addition of spoken word vocals…a great way to express the necessary emotions that the compositions demanded.” Guest musicians are employed during certain passages, but the music is largely driven by the guitar-and-drums combo, which proves more than adequate for the task.
The album is a grand statement, almost overwhelming at times, but never less than visceral. There are moments of tranquility, but Antier doesn’t ever let you rest easy; the next pulse-pounding rush is just around the corner. This template is laid down on track one “Nada Está Escrito” (Nothing is Written in Stone), an expansive vista of sound with staccato machine-gun drums and urgent, stretched-out chords reaching for an elusive destination which remains forever just beyond the horizon. The track thuds, pulses, and morphs suddenly into some bluesy guitar strumming before launching back into a tidal wave through which we surge head-on.
There is a definite sense of journeying through the album. Martial beats rise and fall, with many soaring crescendos. At times the music seems precariously close to burning out, only to emerge anew, ever more determined and striving. Vocals are declaimed like the life-worn utterances of a modern Odysseus, with a gravity and pathos that is compelling. We know why we are traveling but not where we will end up or when. Antier could be accused of not providing enough variation between tracks, but this is a work that is meant to be taken as a whole, an impressionist canvas with enough light and shade to hold the eye, or in this case, ear.
The album is a grand statement, almost overwhelming at times, but never less than visceral.
Closer “Al Final Todo Fue” (In the End Everything Was) brings us full circle with a renewed sense of determination, a rough-hewn bravery, festooned with fears and adorned with battle-scars, cyclical chopping guitar, frenetic drumming and a resolution of sorts, with the admission that in reality nothing is ever so clean-cut. Gil and Arderiu hold things together admirably throughout.
Like the Odyssey, or its predecessor the Iliad, De La Quimera, El Dolor successfully immerses you in another world. It is a world so full of heroic exertions that the journey may tax you to the limits. It is, however, one worth taking. There is much to be absorbed and, once you become accustomed to the narrative style and lurching extremes, you may find yourself breathlessly emerging on the other side, a little more human, a little cleansed, blinking in the light as in exiting a cinema into a now unfamiliar landscape that you used to call home.
8,000 out of 10,000 Rawckus Kung Fu Throwing Stars