Hail unto thee who art (Amen)Ra in thy rising!
Towards the end of 2012 AMENRA finally released the results of their latest ritual gathering in the form of Mass V, coming from the Neurot Recordings camp, the label run by they of the mighty and godlike men of Neurosis.
With 4 tracks of heavy and awe inspiring post metal and doom inspired vibrations, this musical pentacle from Belgium grace our ears with another masterpiece of atmospheric and appropriately solemn odes to a broken world.
Sounding somewhat more bare and stripped down than previous releases, the record still holds much weight. It drones and it revolves with repetitive crushing riffs than do not bore the listener. There are moments of broken hearted calm, a maudlin lament sung out to those drifting within a world not understood, hopelessness consumes all but not all is lost. There is an underlying determination in AMENRA's sound; a striving to break free of the tethers imposed upon the desperate and creative minds of the ones who see a brightness beyond the veil of darkness.
The opener, Boden, is near silent from the off, with an occasional distant noise that sounds like the moving of some mysterious tiny metallic object, while an equally distant guitar drifts towards you with foreboding chords until the track drops into an aural barrage of heaviness with the pained screams of the vocalist grabbing your attention by the ears and wrenching you forward, demanding that you listen, right now! AMENRA have something to say and you had better listen. You will be forever better off for it.
The track is doom laden with low end and crushing riffs but it evolves and falls into a gentle and maudlin lament with spoken words until again the barrage of low end crushing chugging riffs falls upon you.
Keep listening, AMENRA haven't finished yet. In fact they've only just begun.
Second is A Mon Ame, with its opening of dark ambient soundscapes; ghosts drifting through a long forgotten dead forest until you are slammed into a huge wall of sound while a faint echoed voice accompanies a simple and repetitive riff full of crushing sadness. The track evolves into anguished ethereal chants and thudding tribal drum patterns moving as a 7 billion plus grief stricken men funeral march. The track promises to build to a doomed out groove but about half way it drops to soft guitar strokes and even softer whispers telling of hidden and forbidden secrets. This section builds in intensity until the heaviness drops on you again, the anguished screams sounding a call to all, filled with a raw passion and a pure will to overcome the evil that stains every mans heart.
Track 3 Nowena 19.10 features guest vocals from one of the Neurosis gods himself, Scott Kelly. It begins with sadly plucked guitar, gently weeping along to softly sung words. There comes a few brief moments of silence before an almost black metal onslaught of guitar riffs which are slowed only by the down tempo of the drums. The tone changes to a huge wall of low end chugging rhythms with Scott Kelly accompanying the lead screaming vocalist making this track as close to Neurosis' sound is it gets for AMENRA.
Dearborn and Buried is the 4th and final track for Mass V. Simply spaced guitar twangs and bass drum kicks herald a building of intensity until it reaches a doom slab of noise that hits in waves of desperation and ever more intense emotions are invoked. The riffs stay simple and repetitive but I never get bored hearing them as the track changes tempo a few times with the intensity building ever more. Towards the end of the track it falls down into a very slow torrent of feed back and huge bass, heavy guitar strokes and chunky thumping drum pounding breaks the searing noise only to a leave a morose trail of feed back that fades into the abyss of silence.
Certainly, as many have commented, AMENRA can be compared to Neurosis but they do not mimic Neurosis outright. They do have their very own sound, their own atmosphere, their own emotion which falls in huge waves of sonic devastating pleasure. The vocals are howled in heartsick anguish that sound to me like a desperate plea to humanity to lift themselves up from their hypnotic slumber, to see a rising sun, a sun that rises in us all, for we are all AMENRA.