Today I find myself in a difficult position because I have to write about one of the bands I like the most. And, of course, I am subjective so needless to say I’m developing something of a crush on this massive doom/sludge band.
As support acts, the evening was opened by two new bands: YLVA and E-L-R. certainly not fillers, as we will see shortly.
YLVA is a young Australian band hailing from Melbourne, Australia’s capital of underground music. They create patient, dark and mysterious pieces of heavy music.
The music I witnessed was so uncontrolled, dense, and heavy, you have to make your way into the soundscape. The complexity of these songs is as chaotic, yet melodic as ever, fusing different rhythms and melodies together in a way that challenges, yet intrigues the listener, leaving them hungering for more. YLVA has an inexplicable way of making discordant, yet congruent melodies in their music. They were a new discovery for me. About the last album, guitarist/vocalist Mike Deslandes comments on the recurring theme throughout “M E T A”, the newest YLVA full-length: “We have the ability to document, measure and learn from our social failures. We can achieve positive community development and social justice if the data is one day allowed to breathe from beneath and within”
Swiss post doomers E-L-R offer a new perspective on the musical aspect. Given E-L-R‘s sense of community, it is no wonder they are eager to interact with like-minded artists such Colin van Eeckhout from the group’s touring partners Amenra, who lends his voice to ‘Above The Mountains There Is Light’ and plays the hurdy-gurdy in the intro to ‘Glancing Limbs’. The show was intense, filled with instrumental dissonance and static noise.
Amenra is not a typical band. They cannot be labelled as sludge, stoner, doom, or even hardcore. Nevertheless, none of these titles matters here. Forget about them all. Because what you are about to witness is something close to a sonic event. Live shows like this are truly earth-shattering, the kind of thing you really need to experience for yourself at least once. This Belgian act seeks transcendence through gut-wrenching heavy music.
Amenra opened the show with the track “Boden”, a song from the 2012 album- “Mass V”. From the start, the sound is overwhelming and oppressive. It feels like it’s hard to breathe under the crushing tones of guitar and bass adorned with the screams that deliver sorrow and then there’s that clean voice which gets under your skin straight away and vanishes all hope.
Like in a repetitive trance, the sound, the movements, the shadows are growing bigger, filling the entire room. As the shows go on, the tattoo of the Todesrune, an old German symbol for death was uncovered along the full length of his back.
Next was “Plus Pres De Toi”, a song taken from the last album “Mass VI” released in 2017. About this piece, Colin H. Van Eeckhout comments: “The song is about a profound longing, a sadness you carry within. Solitude. The journey to come closer to the people, and things you loved and you miss. A melancholy hymn. Inspired by a translation of a 19th-century Christian hymn, “Nearer To God To Thee”. It made sense to write and sing in French. Those words felt like they had more poetic outcome than the English substitute. By using French and Flemish on this album, I felt like I could keep it a little closer to home, to our hearts. It’s a part of our heritage.” Needless to say that the audience was mesmerized. The progression in the very end of the song is absolutely epic.
Next, there was “Razoreater” and “A Solitary Reign”, a song that gives the name to the last album The pure, raw emotion is heart-wrenching. This is easily one of the most emotional pieces of music I’ve heard. This nine-minute song, speaks about loss as we imagine a final goodbye to a mother, “asking her to sing you to sleep one more time.”
Amenra is on another realm, a realm of altered state of consciousness.
Next was “Thurifer” taken from “Mass IIII” and “Terziele”, two songs that deepen the state of introspection.
The show was closed by “Diaken” and “Am Kreuz”, one of the most beautiful, visceral piece of music.
Most of the metal inspiration deals with insanity, death, apocalypse, spirituality, and all that is unmaterial. Amenra, in particular, triumphs in this regard because it sounds so real, so authentic. This music sounds like it is greater than the sum of its parts, where no one is “outstanding” but everybody shines.
Amenra was there to shows us the end of all things.
PHOTO CREDIT: Gheorghe Paraschiv