Review Summary: Some assembly required.
For The Amenta, definition isn’t as simple as pigeon-holing the Australian group into an umbrella genre and sweeping descriptors. I mean, how does one find the common ground between the tumultuous likes of death metal, atmospheric black metal, grind and electronic that occasionally dabble in those “core” moments without running into a world of hyperbole and a mish-mash of soundscapes? The answer, Revelator
. Fairly enough The Amenta’s latest isn’t for everyone...as if that isn’t enough of a cop-out to hold over the rest of this review—but the multi-faceted approach found within Revelator
outweighs its enjoyability in part, due to its need to be unpacked, re-assessed and over explored.
For many however, there won’t be an attempt to break down Revelator
for what it is. In many ways “An Epoch Elipsis” bridges the gap between an album released this year with that of a cornerstone that defined the group almost eight years before it, but as a whole Revelator
is far too moody to captivate for the entirety of its length. “An Epoch Elipsis” also explodes into the fray not unlike the titular track of their last effort (Flesh Is Heir
), dry rhythms meld into deranged, bombastic blasts—defining the very essence of a band gone for the best part of a decade. Cain Cressall’s vocals punch through the mix, a hefty dosage of screams before providing a softer call into cleaner melodicism. The track itself wavers into an atmospheric landscape of ringing feedback and distortion, adding other elements when needed—in 2021, The Amenta’s edge becomes less sharp than past releases. The stop-riff orientated “Sere Money” continues with the band’s focus on cleaner tones, namely in Cain’s vocals, but also in style. It’s tracks like these that showcase the group’s more ‘conventional’ moments before falling back into their own nuanced experimentation. The latter half of the track however falls into aimless noise, like a ship with no lighthouse to guide it. Circling vocal phrases rub against distorted compositional phrasing and abrasive feedback signaling a journey to who knows where. It’s only when the minor notes of the acoustically led (and whisper dominated) “Silent Twin” that The Amenta correct their course and retry once again, to the shore.
After brooding through the album’s earlier moments, it’s clear that the album has lost most of its momentum. Where “Psoriastasis” begins to crash through the near-apocalyptic atmosphere, “Twined Towers” again steps back into cinematic repose, becoming a melting pot for everything the band has (insofar) accomplished. In doing this, the album becomes less. Less progressive, less in your face and less introspective. Sure, there’s an immersive quality to be had while listening to the likes of “Twined Towers” or “Wonderlost”, but the need or want from the listener is diminished well before the record’s second half.
In a manner of saving grace is Revelator
’s closing piece, “Parse Over” which brings together the album’s tendency for dramatic, cinematic-styled atmosphere and unabridged heaviness while combining both rapid paced intensity and well-placed atmospheres. If you manage to follow the lazy lighthouse above, The Amenta show they have focus and just enough to keep them off the steep, unpassable jagged rocks. By closing the album with the same intensity as it opens, it allows Revelator
to come full circle—enough to make a listener want to try this album again, maybe with the intentions of the band at heart. Regrettably, the result will be more-or-less the same. Sure, a listener given the time could find all those little moments, unpacking the climes that make The Amenta what they are, but largely, Revelator
feels like a disappointment, not because it’s a ‘bad’ album, but because the band should be capable of so much more...especially after such a release gap.