The last time I thought Amenra was just a band, simply playing their music and touring, was probably some four or five years ago, maybe right before my third listen of their Mass III.
Now it’s four years after Mass IIII and a bit over a month after I first heard Mass V, Amenra’s debut on Neurosis’ very own Neurot Recordings. And I have quite a different position about this incredible Belgian collective. I want to put it as clear as possible, this is not a band, this is a sect.
Their music is certainly not a product, actually it has never been, it has slowly evolved from an intelligent and expressive art piece to a shattering, multi-layered and boundless ritual. Before the news for Mass V hit the media, I hadn’t really realized that it was four years since their previous record. I hadn’t felt excited about a new album since ages, but after seeing Amenra live in October I was sure Mass V will be great and I was kinda counting the days until it was out.
Mass V is spanning over four pieces, which are slowly unfolding in a bit over than 40 minutes. The opener Dearborn And Buried is one of the most desperate songs in the whole universe. It’s repetitive, tense and gradually building up to a mediative but still a very harsh climax. It’s like a cold hand around your throat, which grabs you and drags you into a hole. There you find Boden. The second piece with its deceivingly calm and atmospheric introduction is setting the general pulse of the record. Crushing, nervous and almost static melodies, mesmerizing waves of bass and slow and super heavy rhythmic figures. My total highlight in Mass V is surely A Mon Ame. The longest piece of the record is a perfect showcase of every aspect, specific for the sound and aesthetics of the Belgian collective. In thirteen minutes A Mon Ame walks the road, which the band has been following for the last fourteen years. The song is morphing into diverse shapes and almost traps you inside itself, leaving you barely alive for the closing Nowena. The latter is definitely the heaviest piece in this album. It features guest vocals by Neurosis’ own Scott Kelly. They are actually a great, and a delicate sign of the communication and collaboration between two of the most fascinating bands of our times. Such a gesture really contributes to the feeling that there are still musicians aiming at something more than music and art, namely a really considered and complex works that go beyond genres, art and the artists themselves. I’ll abstain from commenting the lyrics and Colin’s vocals in this record, because they are something you have to experience on your own.
Sound-wise Mass V is definitely my favorite Amenra record. It was recorded in the fancy La Chapelle Studios (Belgium) and you can easily hear the result of this expensive decision. The production is perfect, but surely not overdone. It makes from the record a massive and monumental wall of sound, which engulfs you in a desperate embrace of heavy bass, thick guitar layers and skin-tearing vocals.
Many people criticized Mass V for being nothing more than another Amenra record, for being monotonous and repetitive, well I guess they never sensed the music of the band with anything but their ears. So I highly encourage you to let Mass V inside as deep as possible. And please, please see Amenra live.