Amenra – Mass VI
Released: 20th October 2017
Amenra Line up —
Colin H Van Eeckhout // Vocals
Bjorn Lebon // Drums
Mathieu Van De Kerckhove // Guitars
Lennart Bossu // Guitars
Levy Seynaeve // Bass
Amenra Online —
There is something truly magical about good post-rock and sludge. It’s hard to fully explain, but I feel that these two genres somehow channel the depths of human sadness and the rhythm of depression that thrums underneath our very existence. Amenra’s Mass VI is resoundingly dripping with this emotional gravity, yet it isn’t the world’s sadness they tap into, it’s their own, and it makes the whole affair so very personal, and so very raw.
‘Children of the Eye’ begins with a minimal drone, not unsettling as of yet, but it hints of things to come as the frequency and volume rises. It lulls you. It soothes you. Then you are engulfed by the heart wrenching screams of Van Eeckhout. Blood chillingly harsh, they tear through you, sucking the air from your lungs in an oppressive, evil raking of your body. A second of respite occurs before you are once again shoved under the waters of the human pain that is his voice. This doesn’t stop.
Where Amenra excels, is contrasting the absolutely dispiriting brutality with tender, almost loving caresses of tonal shift. Slow, cymbal heavy sections delivered by Lebon give you hope, but the guitars and vocals, instead of making you feel hope, make you feel uneasy and anxious. The contrast is even starker as the album progresses; ‘Plus Près de Toi’ is accompanied by echoing screams and claustrophobia inducing riffs that tighten around your chest like iron bands, before letting you out into the open air. Yet that openness is a barren wasteland that can bring you no joy, only the need to cry and hug yourself as your tears nourish the dirt.
Van Der Kerckhove and Bossu weave some of the most intricate threads of their career through this album; harmonious and calm at times, desperate and retchingly tumultuous at others, but always oppressive. ‘A Solitary Reign’ opens on instrumentation so harrowing it brings tears to the eyes and bile to the back of the throat. A simple string harmony and a spectral vocalisation build, layer upon layer, until it represents an anguish so deep it has no choice but to devolve into an sludgy mass of boiling poison and groove that can result in nothing else but catharsis.
Despite the amazing exhaustion that is felt whilst listening to the album, it isn’t exhaustion borne of boredom, it derives from the crushing despair of Amenra’s music, and the crushing despair that is Seynaeve’s rumbling, unstoppable bass. The drone behind it is so mesmerising, the whole time spent listening to Mass VI was probably spent trying to not choke to death on your own tongue and tears, but due to that mesmerisation, before you know it, you’ve reached the climax of the entire album. ‘Diaken’ shows the first real notes that will yank you out of the deathly trance you’ve been in for the last thirty some minutes, climaxing at a point that you will think will make your heart give out in pleasure, only to be reduced to a sorrowful shell as its abrupt end rings through you, leaving you empty. Deflated. Hollow. Yearning.
Overall, Amenra have delivered another mass unto the world, but this one… This one is wrenching. Previous albums Mass III through Mass V are a synthesis of their rage and regret, that were possibly more heavy and pounding in their ferocity, but Mass VI is more depressingly addictive due the deft touch that guides us all to the very depths of human dejection and worthlessness.
Amenra – Mass VI tracklist —
1. Children of the Eye
3. Plus Près de Toi
5. A Solitary Reign
Mass VI is Out Now via Neurot Recordings
Review by Dylonov Tomasivich