Amenra
Mass V

Neurot knows how to pick ‘em. After releasing two monolithic slabs of brain frying doom from Ufomammut this year, they once again reach across the Atlantic to release the latest from sludgy Belgian doomsayers Amenra. Mass V marks the band’s fourth full-length  and first release for Neurot Recordings. It’s got the same panoply of sludge, doom and hardcore influences ensconced in a cavernous monument of lumbering riffs and bellowing drums. It’s a bold, heavy, and atmospheric release that stacks up well against the recent releases of titan label mates Neurosis and Ufomammut.

Mass V remains stylistically similar to Mass IIII (No, that’s not a typo). The four lengthy tracks plod along in a steady rhythmic gait, wrapped in slow, purposeful riffs and textures. Amenra are often lumped in with Neurosis, Cult of Luna, and Isis, but in reality they are simpler and not as musically busy as their more prominent peers. The riffs are more spacious and doomy, the shifts in tempo are slighter, and there’s less variation between the songs. Each track opens quietly before detonating into steady streams of riffs and shrieks, never progressing beyond a deliberate saunter, but each with moments of big sludgy riffs. The final track “Nowena 9.10” stands out in particular as it erupts from a quiet spoken intro to a shrill blast of blackened fury made all the more effective by the slow, trudging drums before it shifts quickly back to spacious notes and doom atmospheres.

Where Amenra nail it is in the oppressive atmosphere and the mountainous riffs. They keep the music spare where other bands seem intent on adding synth, piano, organ, and other instrumental detritus in the name of variety, or atmosphere, or possibly just plain old pretension. The straightforward approach has its downfalls, the songs are all rather similar and perhaps could use some more variation, but it’s also ultimately more satisfying. The riffs, highlighted by Billy Anderson’s production, get to shine and that’s what going to keep me coming back. Mass V provides a bludgeoning counterpoint to the ornate and progressive output of their highly lauded peers and a heavy handed reminder of the roots of the genre.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Chuck Kucher
January 7th, 2013

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