October 18, 2021

AMENRA –‘De Doorn’ – “Maximum heaviness, sadness and exorcism”

RELAPSE RECORDS    25th JUNE, 2021

With this, their seventh album, Amenra move record label and switch from calling their albums Mass I, Mass II, etc. It’s a marker of a shift in delivery, if not intention. After two decades as Belgium’s best known hardcore band, leader Colin H. Van Eeckhout continues to deliver an aural enema but the ingredients have been tweaked.

Colin appears to still see his work as a series of ceremonies and much of this set was created for a First World War commemoration ceremony (Belgium was pretty much turned into mud early on in that war). Sounds here are resonant, reverb turned up high to create the sense of an immense stone space. Chords sustain for aeons and move slowly, dragging themselves behind marginally busier (but not by much) drum beats. Colin screams and howls in anguish amid maximally heavy sounds, alternating with quiet acoustic guitar and the spoken words of Caro Tanghe (Oathbreaker). At times we are surprised to hear Colin’s voice, quietly speaking. It’s all in Flemish of course, so I can’t comment on the content, which may sound deeper when it is not understood. He does have profundities to communicate, mostly resigned and tinged with sadness, though anger is present too.

A good track to sample would be Het Gloren, which contains the whole within its part and moves nicely on into the closing track, Vor Immer (For Ever), which is almost whispered, and delicate in sensibility until crushing sound brings waves of spiritual pain, redemption and catharsis via glissando guitar.

Best played loud.