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Amenra - Mass V Review

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Amenra - Mass V

Amenra - Mass V

Neurot Recordings
To call Amenra doom sludge doesn't quite seem strong enough; apocalyptic sludge comes closer to capturing the simultaneous grandiosity and spectral despair of their work. Amenra are the musical manifestation of a Belgian artistic collective who often refer to themselves as the Church of Ra, in an attempt to communicate both the tight-knit nature of the group as well as the deep, ceremonial nature of the art that they create.

Mass V, as it vacillates between gently fingering silken tones and sumptuous textures to tearing down sonic walls in a fit of raw, anguished destruction, is an extraordinary effort. It's a record at once subtle, intellectual and completely venomous.

The vocals are a constantly evolving aspect of Mass V, always extraordinary though executed with a variety of techniques. At times, the vocals take the shapes of screams so extreme that you can almost hear the cracks and fractures of the vocal chords, as though the weight and force of misery was tearing a throat apart.

At other moments, the voices become otherworldly babble in the background, bubbling up beneath layers of guitars. No matter what, however, the listener has the uncomfortable sense that they are being sung to by a ghost.

The song structures are the sort of looping, elliptical constructs that are expected from a Neurot release, which is not to say that they are predictable in any way. The songs fold back in on themselves, as though generating their own gravity, pulling the shape of the world around them by force of sheer weight. The drumming has a primal, primitive energy to it, sometimes thumping like a frantic heartbeat, other times groaning like an aching mountain pulling apart.

There is something more that noise that makes up Mass V. This record is defined by a profound, spiritual energy. As much as operates on the spiritual plane, however, it is also a fiercely intelligent record, powerfully written and well-executed.

It is rare to see a balance like this, a record at once so moving and so self-aware. And all throughout, one can't shake the feeling that this is music written by poltergeists.

(released November 27, 2012 on Neurot Recordings)

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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