Contrasts have always been deep, and at the very heart of AMENRA’s music, ever since they started uttering their Prayers and holding their Masses almost eighteen years ago. Tormented darkness has always coexisted alongside luminous beauty, thunderous impacts instantly followed by frail, delicate subtleties. Songs that seem to engulf everyone in the world at once suddenly feel like they are being whispered to you inside the isolation of your solitary womb.
Mass VI is here, and more than any other album in AMENRA’s past, it highlights those contrasts in a deeply affecting way. The eerie quietness of the first couple of minutes of Children Of The Eye announces the coming storm, and the nine explosive, cathartic minutes of this opening song hold in themselves all the strikingly disparate emotions that we have come to expect from AMENRA. Colossal riffs shake the very foundations of our being while singer Colin H. Van Eeckhout shrieks so agonizingly that we can almost picture him on stage, clawing at himself, back turned to us, underneath that one spotlight, feelings laid bare for all to see but at the same time locked in himself, profoundly alone. “I cast no shadow, light is too profound”, he spits out. When it’s almost too much to bear, there is a crack of light, the sonic rage subsides briefly, the guitars are not on fire for a few seconds, and Colin sings to us as in a lullaby, as he has done lately with his own solo project, CHVE, “one tear at a time”, as he whispers softly. The delivery is entirely different, but the intensity is the same, the song continues its uninterrupted path until everything catches fire once more. Nothing but the sparse, spoken seconds of Edelkroone could have followed this, a few seconds of respite before the band starts to carve yet another gash in our heart with Plus Pres De Toi. Three opening songs, three different moods, three languages – English, Flemish and French –, but the impact is the same, tremendous. And all of this is just the beginning. Mass VI is an emotional rollercoaster until its very last second, until Diaken is abruptly ended at its very climax, as the last breath of an expiring life. Every band member is seemingly being stretched to their physical limits throughout. Colin puts in the performance of a lifetime, but he is inextricably intertwined to the guitarwork of Mathieu J. Vandekerckhove and Lennart Bossu is able to express unimaginable weight, both physical and spiritual, as well as weaving melodies of the utmost delicacy, while the rhythm section of Levy Seynaeve and Bjorn J. Lebon can either rumble like a consuming thunderstorm or retreat to the shadows with the same flowing spontaneity as the atmosphere dictates.
It’s difficult to think of a better person to capture this sonic enormity than Billy Anderson. The legendary American producer was already the chosen one for Mass V, and between Neurosis’ Through Silver In Blood, Sleep’s Dopesmoker, Eyehategod’s Dopesick, Cathedral’s Endtyme or Brutal Truth’s Sounds Of The Animal Kingdom, among many, many others, he’s been a decisive element in the building of many a true classic. Mass VI was recorded in the Belgian Ardennes, a region of thick forests in the southeast end of the country, where the band was snowed in for a week. The album is a reflection of these times.
Children of the Eye
Plus près de toi (Closer to you)
A solitary reign
AMENRA live performances:
28/10 – de Kreun, Kortrijk, BE – SOLD OUT
31/10 – AB, BE – SOLD OUT
7/11 – Werk2, Leipzig DE
8/11 – Scene, Vienna AU
9/11 – la Fabrika, Praha CZ *new addition
17/11 – cc Strombeek Grimbergen BE (acoustic)
1/12 – cc De Leest Izegem BE (acoustic)
13/01 – Gaité Lyrique, Paris FR
19/01 – Stevenskerk, Nijmegen NL
20/01 – Doornroosje, Nijmegen NL