It is 13 years since Amenra were born somewhere from the darkest mires of Kortrijk, Belgium. Their sound is rawcus and punishing, yet there is somehow an underlying beauty always felt in their sound, due to its organic vibe, and natural ebb and flow. This is honest songwriting. Fans of Neurosis, Cult of Luna and early Pelican will feel right at home here; in fact if you have ever seen Neurosis or Pelican live, then there is a chance you will have seen Amenra opening for them. This band are also signed to Neurot Recordings, partially owned by members of Neurosis. If you are unfamiliar with post-metal this may not serve as the best starting point, but fans of the genre should definitely find something here, as they have most certainly managed to carve their own identity within the sludge/doom metal sound!
Despite only boasting 4 tracks, the album clocks in at around 40 minutes, which are shared pretty much equally between the songs. Album opener 'Dearborn and Buried' is crushingly brought into life around the 60 second mark by a wall of guitar distortion and the unforgiving and primal screams of vocalist Colin H. Van Eeckhout, whose voice is strained yet never sounds uncomfortable.
'Boden' also begins quietly and builds to an epic crescendo of crashing symbols and layers of droned guitar which further the inevitable comparisons with CoL and Neurosis, and also bring to mind early Isis before they mellowed. Amenra most certainly haven't mellowed; in fact things have been turned up a notch in all directions here. The album then continues into 'A Mon Ame' which is most definitely a slow-builder, perhaps overly so – if your mind easily wanders then you well may find it out of the door and half a mile down the road by the time the vocals kick in! The second half of this song though is truly powerful with some excellent chord progressions, dynamic vocals, and fitting drums. ''Less is more'' seems to be the adopted approach from drummer Bjorn Lebon, and it certainly works! This is never an album that wants to show off; this is the person with their cap pulled down at the back of the class, happy for the attention to be on others but with a confidence and brooding intensity that commands respect from everyone... their presence is most definitely felt.
The album closer 'Nowena | 9.10' is perhaps the strongest on the album, starting with an almost Tool-esque section of haunting vocals and minimal guitar work.. the calm before the storm. The song then chugs along all the way to the end, leaving you wanting more.
The photos used for the album artwork are bleak and foreboding, and serve as a rather fitting representation of their sound! In summary if you want uplifting music you are looking in the wrong direction. However if you want an album that is honest and powerful yet intricate, look no further.
Check out Si's Interview with Amenra at Damnation Festival 2012 here:
Listen to 'Nowena | 9.10' from 'Mass V' here: