Amenra
Mass VI


5.0
classic

Review

by robotmagician USER (1 Reviews)
October 29th, 2017 | 16 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: I see distance in your eyes...

It’s a curious thing that a band’s frontman could have his back turned to the stage, for almost the entirety of his band's performance, and yet put on one of the most gripping and genuine shows you would ever see. Colin H. van Eeckhout and the rest of Amenra show us that the pain, the suffering, the raw emotion, and the abyssal qualities of their music, often cliches of the genre, are anything but insincere or stale.

On a personal note, the first time I had listened to Amenra was just a few months ago before they were to open for Converge and Neurosis. I had heard of the band before but never ended up giving them a listen. Once I gave them a chance, it felt as if the music was just not clicking with me and the vocal delivery was hard to enjoy. I decided I would still go to catch their set, maybe there was just something I was missing that would hit me. And hit me they did. There is something to be said for a band that can express so much through their live music and their movements. Not to sound cliche myself, but it is almost as if Amenra are not playing the music, the music flows out from inside them, channeled through their bodies and instruments and we are just lucky to be in the way. Their albums immediate clicked with me after the performance, and I have been trying to devour everything they have put out.

Mass VI sees Amenra take the listener through some of their darkest and heaviest material to date, while also exploring the band at their most beautiful. Eeckhout’s unusually tortured vocal delivery often gives way to a cleaner, almost choral, approach on this album. That is not to say that this has not been the case since the Belgium band formed back in 1999, however, Eeckhout seems to have taken on a stronger and more confident quality this time around. It would seem that after a number of years touring acoustically, as well as with his solo project CHVE, Eeckhout has moved beyond the almost timid and fragile quality that we can hear on tracks such as ".Razoreater." on [i]Mass IIII[I/]. While his performance has technically improved, that quality of fragility added an extra layer of feeling to an album that we do not see here. Again, this is not a bad thing in of itself, it is just different.

As Amenra has always used a contrasting light/heavy approach, it had seen like they had fallen into a formula with their songwriting. Three out of the four main tracks on Mass VI feature the band using a heavy-light-heavy or light-heavy-light song structure, which can sometimes repeat in the song. This is not to say Amenra cannot change it up or keep the music interesting, even with this predictability. They are strong and interesting enough songwriters to continually keep us on our toes. Just because they may have a formula that works well does not mean they are just tacking such elements onto each song in Mass VI. Instead, the band was able to beautifully weave these different movements into the music. They are a natural element of the songs, not a forced or an unnecessary addition to Mass VI.

The album is highlighted by the track “A Solitary Reign” which stands above songs such as, “.Razoreater.,” “.Am Kreuz.,” and “A Mon Ame” among others, as their best effort yet. It is almost overwhelming trying to describe how powerful, how effective, just how chill-inducing these nine minutes are. Eeckhout's clean vocals drive through most of the song, a break from any formula they may have, and their biggest risk taken on the album. While his screamed vocals take a back seat they fill out the song and add a depth that would otherwise be missing. The same can be said for bassist Levy Seynaeve who uses an incredibly effective guttural growl on the song. It has been five years since Amenra released their last full length in Mass V, and “A Solitary Reign” alone made it all worth it. If this is the final album we see Amenra put out, which is an actual possibility per the ever-cryptic and philosophical Eeckhout, it is one of the highest notes a musician or group of musicians could hope to go out on.

While Mass VI is not for everyone, with vocals that can be hard to swallow even for fans of the genre, it is a monumental accomplishment deserving of our attention. A primal, ritualistic, punishing, and spiritually intense album; Eeckhout, Bossu, Seynaeve, Lebon, and Vandekerckhove prove once again that Amenra is an absolute force.

Please note that there are two entirely different mixes on the album, some songs not only sound different but have different lengths. This review, while not going too in depth intp each song, focuses on the US version that was released through Neurot.


user ratings (302)
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
Chamberbelain CONTRIBUTOR (5)
Just listen to it....


Comments:Add a Comment 
robotmagician
October 28th 2017


1212 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Hello all, I've never reviewed something before so I wrote a short review for the new Amenra album. Please let me know if I missed anything or messed up formatting wise, and if you have time I'd love to hear some constructive feedback about the writing or even other things I could talk about in the review. Since this was my first time I wasn’t entirely comfortable doing this and while it’s not bad that it’s short I want to make sure it’s good. I posted this in the proofreading thread but got too impatient haha.



If interested, here is an awesome interview with Colin (be sure to turn CC on).

video.vice.com/be/video/noisey-meets-colin-van-eeckhout/58fdd42831b220997bb6641a



It really gives you a great idea of where his music and what he sings about comes from (I have read his son has had a brain tumor, and in that interview he talks about how he’s not sure how much longer he’ll be alive as all of the men in his family have died around the age of 50). There is a lot of great stuff out there and plenty of live performances if any new fans would like to see.



Evok
October 28th 2017


7747 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

That lame interlude almost, ALMOST ruins the whole album for me tbh

robotmagician
October 29th 2017


1212 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

the spoken poetry? or the two min. sorta song? I honestly didn't really think about those when writing the review, they kind of just blow past me when listening to the album

Deez
October 29th 2017


5386 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Ok Stand By. Anyone who knows anything of me knows Im the BIGGEST Amenra 'fan'. They quite probably saved my life or at least were there when i was in an especially bad place. Words cant explain what that band means to me BUT theres a lot of praise for this record (which I love) That I just dont understand. Amenra have been using clean passages since Mass I. Yet people are acting like theyve never been used before. Theres nothing new in the way they are used on this record Apart from on 'A solitary reign'. (thats not at all negative btw)

I really cant get down with the effects on Colins voice on that track. What I love about his voice is the fragility. Even when note perfect like on the acoustic recordings theres a kind of tightrope feel to it.Its almost at a tipping point. It comes from pain and honestly and Thats taken away with those effects to my ear. When he hits the higher notes in that track it actually sounds like its autotuned (its not) and its ruining that track for me which is otherwise great but Its also not even close to being their best track or Their 'darkest' record. For me personally. Yet thats the consensus.



Also 'Alive not only showed them at their most vulnerable but gave us a side of the group that had not really been explored before' It clearly had on Afterlife 7 years earlier and dozens of acoustic shows over the years.



For the record they had been playing the clean section of 'Plus pres de toi' on the acoustic shows before this came out which was immense. The review like so many seems to be from a wanting to tell the world of how much you love the record which is great , while only really talking about that one track, which seems to be the common fave. Being so immersed in everything COR im only pointing this out because everything else is, as usual, stellar. And from a place few bands truly purge from.

Digging: Elizabeth Colour Wheel - Nocebo

robotmagician
October 29th 2017


1212 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Appreciate it. To be honest I’m a very new Amenra and I’ve somehow managed to miss Afterlife. I know they’ve done clean passages for a long time but it never felt like it was this much of a record, but I could be wrong.



And yeah on A Solitary Reign his clean singing voice sounds better than I’ve ever really heard it before. That may be why it sounds so different and is missing that fragility. I know he mentioned in interviews that he is becoming more and more confident using that voice (and that probably influenced my review a bit).



Tomorrow I’ll try to go back through their albums and listen to Afterlife as well. Do you think I should take the review down and rewrite it, or leave it up until I can fix it? As this was the first review i’ve ever done of any kind I wasn’t very confident and was afraid I lacked too much knowledge on the band - maybe that is something I can explore more. Maybe make the review a bit more personal?

Deez
October 29th 2017


5386 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

No Id agree theres probably more clean vox on this but a lot of that is dominated by that one track. I mean the clean vox on 'Children of the eye' for example are standard Amenra clean/heavy duality parts (again by 'standard' thats not a diss') and more in line with their past. 'A solitary reign' is most definitely new ground and took some balls to do that having a kinda tried and tested formula.The whole clean section on 'Plus pres de toi' is phenomenal but yeah.... Im in the minority man. Every review ive read lauds that track almost as its centre piece and seen so many 'best theyve ever done' remarks. Even me and my friends whove been Ra fans over a decade all disagree! 'darkest and heaviest material to date' is a constant in reviews and comments by fans. I personally just dont agree.



Ive watched Colins live vox grow in the last few years live and hes much more confident in them now for sure. I think its just the way its been recorded for me , on both mixes.



Dude I wouldnt tell someone to take a review down or not. Thats just my opinion on it and im borderline retarded. Your enthusiasm for the band comes through but its comes to me as more of a lengthy shoutout to all things Amenra than an slightly more in depth,personal, opinion of the whole thing.



The 3 tracks on Afterlife are actually on Alive and are actually better as they include Violins and Female vox Theres 3 tracks which are just those tracks backward. Theyre cool. But nothing essential youve missed in that.

robotmagician
October 29th 2017


1212 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

ohh ok I think i actually did listen to Afterlfe now that you mention the backwards part. An yeah I wasn’t sure if I should post this or if it was just a glorified shoutout. I’ll make some changes tomorrow and see what happens. Thanks again for all of the feedback.

Deez
October 29th 2017


5386 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

all good man, Ill no doubt bump it to a 5 in time hahha. Considering my slight grievances Ive played it at least 20 times since last week. Get to see it live in 2 days. Pretty psyched.

robotmagician
October 29th 2017


1212 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Yeah now that i think about rewriting this there is just some slight changes to describing the album in context to others, maybe talk about the other songs since there are essentially four real songs, and adding a more personal touch. but that’s good to hear it deserves it!

Deez
October 29th 2017


5386 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I take it youve watched the 23:10 live set man?

Deez
October 29th 2017


5386 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Also this is the first album they wrote with Levy. I think you can hear that. Also the well placed growls add a whole lot without over doing them.

robotmagician
October 29th 2017


1212 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

yeah i think so, I’ve been trying to watch/listen to everything i can. and yeah i noticed those growls, they were so sparsely used but it made them so effective. i’ll be interested to see if levy becomes a full time member of oathbreaker

Deez
October 29th 2017


5386 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The 23:10 in my favourite Amenra anything. The last 20 mins (aoerte/Ritual) and the suspension (my av) changed everything for me for real.



Levy is in Oathbreaker for the foreseeable future man but they are taking a break i believe for a bit.

Thalassic
October 29th 2017


3858 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

With this one as well as the Spectral Voice and Bell Witch releases we got 3 late but much needed contenders for the metal aoty crown

Chamberbelain
Contributing Reviewer
October 29th 2017


143 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Literally just finished my own review for this. Absolutely outstanding album.

robotmagician
October 29th 2017


1212 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Just to note that the review has been changed!



and Chamberbelain I'll be sure to check yours out, I am quite sure it is much better than mine haha



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