It’s September 28 of the year 2019 and we are in Amsterdam to celebrate two decades of Amenra. It’s been four years since I last saw them live and tonight it’s going to be the third time. Our friends got me a ticket and if this occasion wasn’t exciting enough for months the intense line up of fellow artists announced made the waiting even more unbearable. The Dutch weather today is moody, outbursts of rain take turns with the last sun rays of autumn. It feels just like the music of Amenra, sometimes light is allowed to peek through the thick layers of darkness only for the winds and crushing storms to return and wash you away.
We arrive at Paradiso and the queue is already moving fast. Another reminder we’re not on the Balkans tonight. Everything is happening smoothly tonight and a moment later we’re in the small hall where Year of the Cobra are already on stage. It’s my first encounter with their music, which I find the perfect opening act for tonight. The duo (bass and drums with the bass player singing) plays a mixture of stoner and doom metal with beautiful melodic vocals. The music is moving in massive looping movements that slowly develop, grow and evolve. It’s a full-house for them so, without a doubt they are the perfect opener for what’s going to be a busy and intense night.
‘I don’t eat
I don’t sleep’
Next on the busy bill is Lingua Ignota in the Main Hall. With a background in classical music, Kristin Heyter is a US multi-instrumentalist who blends power electronics, noise and post-industrial music with neoclassical music, outstanding singing skills, beautiful and figurative lyrics. She deservedly gained momentum and a following during the past years. Lingua Ignota is now touring with her latest album ‘Caligula’ and the performance is dedicated to presenting material from the new LP. I’m sure her work is not for everyone’s taste. It’s multilayered, theatrical, noisy but extremely personal and I’m honestly quite excited she’s become a part of Amenra’s circle of trust because she is a perfect fit for tonight. An absolute highlight!
In the Small Stage it’s time for Bossk, a UK post sludge quintet that we sadly miss while roaming the merch stalls and we head to the balcony to prepare for Alcest. A few years ago they couldn’t make it to Sofia where they had to open for Anathema so, it’s now our time to compensate. After the intense and menacing performances Alcest sound deceivingly calm, atmospheric and drifting. The Main Hall is full to its maximum. People are mesmerised in their sound and how can they not be. Alcest are playing like absolute beasts with such an enviable ease. Their set starts a bit earlier and it takes us in a journey through the beautiful post-black metal sound of the band. It ends in a blink of an eye.
The penultimate performance for tonight is Treha Sektori. Once again in front of a full Small Hall he’s blasting us with his signature ritual dark ambient electronics, very symbolic and aesthetically flawless visuals. I’ve reviewed his music before and have always kept an eye on the project but tonight is the first time I’m seeing him live. It’s even more impressive than experiencing his studio recordings. Even though we are minutes away from the culmination of the night we can hardly take our eyes and ears off this experience. So much meaning, message and beauty is hidden within his minimalist and powerfully produced sounds and visuals. Once again Treha Sektori establishes himself as an inseparable and important part of the Church of Ra collective.
And it’s time. Main Hall is swarmed with people. A light pierces the darkness and the familiar logo appears on the screen in front of us. Ambient sound slowly creeps through the room and seconds later the band members materialise. I remember discovering Amenra ten years ago, I remember seeing them for the first time in the small Bucharest venue Fabrika in 2012 and it makes me so proud to see them where they deserve to be. The years of discipline, effort and relentless dedication to their craft has established them as the hardest-working European band. Despite personal struggles and battles Amenra have established themselves as the hardest-working European band and is amazing to see so many people enlightened by their music. It’s the first time I’m watching Amenra in such a large venue and even though I’d always prefer to see them in a more intimate setting it’s great to see that the love for their work can now barely fit even in an as epic of a venue as Amsterdam Paradiso.
The set that Amenra are playing tonight is extremely dynamic, taking us within the realms of ‘A Solitary Reign’, ‘Children of the Eye’ (I think), ‘Boden’, ‘Novena 9.10’ and a ton more. Amenra often indulge in beautiful quiet passages with ambient soundscapes filling the gaps between songs. I quickly lose track at what track plays when as it’s always been about the whole rather than its parts for me with this band. Watching Amenra is an emotionally overwhelming experience and looking around me it’s managed to reach not only those with a heart for slow and crushing metal music but people from all walks who are looking for a cathartic multi layered audio-visual art. Like always each of the members are locked deep in their worlds and so are we. They are building and controlling us with their signature precision and we’re once again transported in worlds where abandonment, belief, nature, birth and death reign together. For two decades Amenra have created a world that others can’t even imagine for a whole lifetime and this church is the only one I plan to be a part of.
November come sooner because Amenra are finally playing Sofia, Bulgaria. Don’t miss it.