Dark post-hardcore/sludge metal from Belgium, full-length discography of three albums released between 2003-2008.
Amenra (also spelt “Amen Ra”) is a post-metal band from Kortrijk, Belgium. The band was formed in 1999 after the demise of the Belgian hardcore band Spineless by three of its members and went on to be one of the most significant European bands worldwide in this genre.
Following the break-up of their previous band Spineless, vocalist Colin Van Eeckhout, guitarist Mathieu Vandekerckhove and bassist Kristof Mondy sought to form a new band, Amenra, to play music that was deeper, more intense and more introspective than they had before. They enlisted drummer Bjorn Lebon and in 2003 their first album, Mass I, was released. Soon after, the band made an appearance at Ieperfest, which brought them to the attention of the European underground hardcore and metal scene.
After a period of experimenting with the line-up of the band, Vincent Tetaert joined the band on guitars. With the release of Mass II in 2004 Amenra was slowly but surely making name for itself with intense live shows.
In 2005 Mass III was released during a special show in a chapel in Ghent. By this time the band had gained a considerable cult following, and the mainstream media began to take note. Festival appearances at Dour, RockHerk and Pukkelpop, and a first US tour ensued. From the release of Mass III on, visual projections were being used during most of the shows, immersing the audience in Amenra’s universe.
When Mass IIII was released in 2008, the album was welcomed with high critical acclaim. In its aftermath Amenra made notable appearances on the Pukkelpop (newspapers claimed them to be one of the best 10 acts of the festival - together with Metallica), Dour and Roadburn festival. In 2009 they embarked on another US tour with Zoroaster and joined Converge and Neurosis on European tours, but their perhaps most remarkable show to date took place on September 23, 2009 in Kortrijk,where most of the band members were born. They astonished a sold-out city theatre with a performance that included elements of video art, performance art / modern dance, suspension, … This show was later released on DVD and some of the live recorded songs were remixed by producer Billy Anderson to be featured on a series of split releases with Church of Ra related acts such as Hive Destruction (featuring original Amenra bassist Kristof Mondy), Black Heart Rebellion and Oathbreaker.
September 23, 2009 also marked the release of the band's first DVD and of the acoustic EP, Afterlife. Since then, the band has only occasionally been performing and is said to be writing songs for a new full length album. In July 2011 it was announced that this album will be titled Mass V and will be released by Neurot Recordings.
2003 Mass I: Prayer I - VI - 320k
2005 Mass III - 320k
2008 Mass IIII - Vbr
It could also plan ahead and ambush you like you're a child taking a strangers candy, only to kidnap you and lock you in a small claustrophobia inducing air-tight room. It would be in complete control of your breathing while holding you hostage as your skin amasses goose bumps as you sit there in shock. What the hell is going on? You ponder, without taking a breath.
In this state it is beautifully tormenting you by forcing mental images of magnificently hand-crafted woven blankets upon a nice warm bed. It then gives you the bed, the blankets and caresses your cheek as you start breathing again. There is only one problem, you are still in the same room with no way out and you don't even realize because you are wrapped in its intricate serenity.
It then pours gasoline all over the magnificently hand-crafted woven blanket and flicks a lit match onto it. It watches you squirm before you are engulfed in the flames. You then wake up and Track 2 is starting, are you ready to do it again?
This is Post-Metal.
So how does Amenra differentiate from the others in this genre? Well they rely heavily on trudging sludge riffs to bore into your aural senses more so than most. They focus on death in every single song they write, every aspect of their album is black as the night sky, every single riff, as well as every single scream is set to traumatize a non-experienced listener. Everything about Amenra sweats out possibly the darkest feelings you will ever get from listening to a band. Place your headphones upon your head for this one because as soon as you put the first track Silver Needle. Golden Nail on, you are surrounded by an eerie build up with chant-like whispering and a soft pitter patter of the snare drum. It has you already preparing your defenses as you sense the threat of the incoming hurricane about to ravage through your metaphorically built house. When the hurricane finally reaches it's aural destination it tears up your imaginary white picket fence and impales it through your window as glass hails down upon your tiled floor.
Hurricane Amenra has just landed and it's here to stay for 48 minutes. Its riffs will leave you hypnotized. They don't change much at all though, which leads to it being its main downfall as well. If there wasn't the calm in the eye of the storm starting with the track Razoreater it would become too repetitive. The song stops suddenly to a near complete silence with clean incoherent vocals and slowly builds up into coherency for the first time on this whole journey. Clean vocals continue in the next song Aorte which lays off the crushing sludge-riffs to begin with and you will immediately wonder if Aorte was somehow a track on a Cult Of Luna album as it emulates their sound perfectly. The album goes back to its less experimental sludge roots with the last song feeling a little lackluster compared to the last two you just heard.
Overall you are left with mixed feelings upon the first few listens. Razoreater and Aorte will appeal to most post-metal enthusiasts straight away and the tracks Silver Needle. Golden Nail and De Dodenakker are really great tracks for the sludge lovers.