Amenra
De Doorn


4.5
superb

Review

by Erwann S. CONTRIBUTOR (37 Reviews)
June 24th, 2021 | 151 replies


Release Date: 06/25/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: same same, but different

Amenra are going through some changes.

The Belgians have not become an alternative post-bossa nova band though - they still go with the whole sludgy doomy post-metal aesthetic - but have decided to distinguish their seventh record from the previous ones and mark a new step in their history. Let's go through how exactly De Doorn represents a transformation:

1. Bassist Levy Seynaeve, member since 2012, left the band to focus on his two other projects: the Flemish black metal band Wiegedood, and death metal supergroup Living Gate - featuring members from Oathbreaker and YOB.
2. It's the first Amenra album released on a major record label, Relapse Records.
3. It's entirely sung in Flemish, the dialect spoken in Belgium's Flanders region.
4. It's the first non-Mass album.

Of all four points, the last one is the most important, as it's the only one constituting an anomaly. Indeed, this is not the first time a member has left the group, they have already signed to different record labels, and they have been experimenting with languages their whole career. However, this is the first non-Mass Amenra album. Now that's something truly new.

De Doorn is not a mass. It's a ritual.

At least that's only how they created it: it was composed following the "Fire Ritual" - two outdoor 2019 concerts organized at the Museum Of Contemporary Art in Ghent to celebrate the band's twenty years of existence. Both shows featured constructions, respectively wooden structures, and a bronze statue surrounded by a pyre. The public could slip through messages or notes containing acknowledgments before setting them on fire as an act of accepting loss and grief; the whole burning becoming a cleansing rite soundtracked by De Doorn's future songs.

At first sight though, De Doorn does not frankly depart musically speaking from the Mass musical canon. It's still relying on an impeccable balance between ominous sludge, atmospheric doom, and calmer moments. Opener "Ogentroost" and its very Amenra slow building is tempo-broken by a more galloping riff, allowing the doomy litany concluding the track to feel more powerful. "De Evenmens" is likewise a rollercoaster, Bjorn Lebon's smashing cymbals leading a post-metal charge of crashing riffs - courtesy of founder Mathieu J. Vandekerckhove and Lennart Bossu - before calming down halfway in a short respite, the whole lot sounding immaculate thanks to new bassist and producer Tim de Gieter.

While this description might lead to think this sounds like typical Amenra - well, technically, it is -, De Doorn balances it differently within the album's runtime. The explosions are no less impactful than before, but they are rarer, the band allowing themselves more space to create a softer atmosphere with ambient passages. It's however not on how the band utilizes space that this record becomes unique within Amenra's mythology. Truly, where De Doorn distinguishes itself sonically, it's on its newfound approach to vocals. Spoken words already were present in the band's catalog, but never have they been more prominent - "De Dood In Bloei" featuring zero harsh vocals -, but most importantly, more diversified. Whereas previous works employed them during calm moments, "De Evenmens" sees Van Eeckhout declaim what sounds like a prophetic tale in the midst of an apocalyptic doom liturgy, his delivery as well as the Flemish dialect only reinforcing the ritual lineage of the song's inception. Yet, in terms of vocals, da real MVP comes in the person of Caro Tanghe, who's registered as an official member of this album. Oathbreaker's vocalist perfectly fits within the band's aesthetic - thanks captain obvious - and complements as well Van Eeckhout's vocal proposition. It's indeed when they join forces as a duo that the album reaches its most beautiful moments, whether it's when Van Eeckhout's spoken voice and Tanghe's almost imperceptible vocalizations softly guide the opening of "Voor Immer", or when their superimposed shrieking power concludes the colossal "Het Gloren". This highest focus on vocals nevertheless isn't perfectly balanced. "Voor Immer" allowing half of its time to spoken word might not be the best use of time given the band's ability to invoke a crushing atmosphere. It's an artistic choice, one that can - and should - be criticized, but one that ultimately depends on the listener's goodwill.

At the end of the day, the goal to channel a ritualistic performance and experience a cathartic is of course achieved - what did you expect, the band's all about that. But that's precisely the thing: the band's all about that. While it offers a slightly different perspective of the band's sound, it doesn't feel more or less impacting. It's as fucking impacting as ever. Simply because Amenra always was about catharsis, about going into the deepest depths of our subconscious and let pain be the catalyst of our future well-being. They just found a new way to do it.

Maybe that's the thing with Amenra: they may change how they do it, but they will never change how we feel it.



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user ratings (143)
3.9
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
dedex
Contributing Reviewer
June 24th 2021


8361 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

4.3/5

This rev was a bitch, c/c more than welcome!

Stream: https://amenra.bandcamp.com/album/de-doorn

gonna go to bed xoxo





Digging: MC Solaar - Qui seme le vent recolte le tempo

LeddSledd
June 24th 2021


5670 Comments


haven't heard these guys yet but heard many good things. start here or nah?

also sinternet's soundoff

Digging: My Own Grave - Unholy

Deez
June 24th 2021


8114 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great review man. Been getting reports today from all my older COR heads and they all seem sold. Even ones that werent super on board with the lead single (as I wasnt) My Wax only left Belgium on tuesday so will have to wait to dive in but pleased people are loving it so far and excited as always to see how I feel about the Journey as a whole.



@Ledd This sounds as good a place as any or the last one.

Digging: Lee Scott & Hyroglifics - [gate clicks shut]

Evreaia
June 24th 2021


5265 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

God this album hit hard. The Dutch vocals elevate this to something special

Evreaia
June 24th 2021


5265 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Voor Immer is a fucking emotional sledgehammer battering to the face.



Before the drop even happens.

Sniff
June 24th 2021


7159 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Let's fucking gooooo

Sniff
June 24th 2021


7159 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Before jammin this I gotta say this.



Flemish sound stupid

Needs moar shrieks

And riffs

And less talking

And more cool drops

Sniff
June 24th 2021


7159 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

And less polished prod

Deez
June 24th 2021


8114 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

'Flemish sound stupid'



I luv u sniff but have you regressed into infancy with the lock down?



FoReaign lAngUge SouNd DuM DUm

Sniff
June 24th 2021


7159 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

French smart smart sounding.



Flemish dum dum sounding.



Those are facts my friend

Deez
June 24th 2021


8114 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

How dare they sing their native tongue

Sniff
June 24th 2021


7159 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Extremely rude

Deez
June 24th 2021


8114 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Apparently 'het gloren' is the one.

Psyched

Sniff
June 24th 2021


7159 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Jammin it now. And ehm. It's not normal Amenra standard but it's quite good so far

Sniff
June 24th 2021


7159 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Nope spoke too soon

Sniff
June 24th 2021


7159 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Caro is killing it tho

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
June 24th 2021


24958 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh nice dexbro! I was gonna write it up too but I am still a bit too weak. This album will probably finish me off if I tackle it now. Will jam soon!

Digging: King Woman - Celestial Blues

Hawks
June 24th 2021


75356 Comments


Never been high on this band but prob will jam anyways.

Digging: Judas Priest - Stained Class

Sniff
June 24th 2021


7159 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Well this was disappointing

Hawks
June 24th 2021


75356 Comments


Damn lol.



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