Review Summary: Sonic Mass stands as a meticulously crafted, genre-bending album that re-establishes Amebix as a major force to be reckoned with.
While discussing the best metal albums of the year, one should note the latest release of crust punk pioneers, Amebix. Sonic Mass
ceases an over twenty-year-long hiatus of the Bristol-based trio which greatly influenced such coveted artists as Killing Joke and Neurosis alike. The new full length is hardly a return to their previous style being displayed on their 1980s classic releases. Amebix have significantly matured since then, which is acknowledged on the album's terrific opener when Rob Miller continuously repeats the line “these days will never come again” to the accompaniment of moody bass guitar, monumental keys and tribal drums. This pensive, deeply felt post-punk anthem serves as a perfect introduction to the otherwise turmoil-laden record.
showcases great confidence at combining various musical worlds. The album seamlessly blends technical metal with ambience, tribal rhythms and the act's trademark crust punk. The abiding advocacy of Amebix has been successfully reawakened and finds itself realized in an intense collection of brutally fierce songs. “The Messenger” starts mysteriously only to transform into a monolithic cascade of frantic guitar riffs courtesy of Chris Miller. His brother, Rob delivers clanking bass lines along with harsh, yet sorrowful vocals that recall the work of Jaz Coleman (Killing Joke) sharing the same aesthetics. A new talented multi-instrumentalist and producer, Rob Mayorga proves to be an excellent addition by delivering combatively precise drumming.
The great musicianship would make no impact whatsoever if it weren't for versatile song craft. A timely religion critique of “God Of The Grain” is bolstered with vigorous groove metal riffing, while the addictive, chanted chorus of “Here Come The Wolf” encompasses hard rock at its very best. On the other hand, electronic touches on anthemic “The One” gives it the distinct industrial vibe, and “Knights Of The Black Sun” shifts into a full fledged post-rock in its highly atmospheric second half. However, the most surprising cut on the entire disc comes with pensive, mandolin-driven “Sonic Mass Part 1” which provides an emotionally affecting relief before a math metal outburst of its second instalment. The only track that falls short of expectations is “Visitation” that gets fairly tiresome with its sample-enhanced repetitiveness.
The politically charged lyrics along with polished production superbly compliment the group's sonic assault making it even more formidable than ever before. In fact, Sonic Mass
is an invigorating album that firmly establishes Amebix anew as a major force to be reckoned with when it comes to ingeniously crafted heavy music.