RESTOCKED!!!! Contrasts have always been deep and at the very heart of Amenra, who have been uttering prayers and holding masses for eighteen years. Tormented darkness has always coexisted alongside luminous beauty, and thunderous impacts instantly follow frail, delicate subtleties. Songs that engulf everyone in the world suddenly feel whispered inside a solitary womb. Mass VI is here, and more than any other album in the band’s past, it highlights those contrasts.
The eerie quiet of the first couple minutes of “Children Of The Eye” announces the coming storm, and the nine explosive, cathartic minutes that follow hold all the striking disparate emotions one expects from the band. This album is an emotional rollercoaster until its very last second, when “Diaken” abruptly ends at its very climax. Every band member is stretched to their physical limits throughout: Colin H. Vaneeckhout (vocals) puts in the performance of a lifetime, but he is inextricably intertwined to the guitar-work of Mathieu J. Vandekerckhove; Lennart Bossu expresses unimaginable weight, both physical and spiritual, as well as weaving melodies of the utmost delicacy; the rhythm section of Levy Seynaeve and Bjorn J. Lebon rumbles like a consuming thunderstorm or retreat to the shadows with flowing spontaneity. No love without pain. No life without death. No light without darkness. That is the conflict at the heart of the album and at the heart of what it means to be human, and this music wrenches that ambivalence out.
It’s hard to think of a better person to capture this enormity than Billy Anderson. The legendary American producer was already the chosen one for Mass V, and between Neurosis’s Through Silver In Blood, Sleep’s Dopesmoker, and Eyehategod’s Dopesick, among many others, he’s been a decisive element in the building of many a true classic.