Written by Carcassbomb
Amenra – De Doorn
Post Metal/Sludge/Hardcore from Belgium
Released June 25th, 2021 via Relapse Records
OPEN THIS FUCKING PIT UP… SLOWLY
Amenra are a hardworking and prolific band from Belgium whose hard work constantly releasing music and playing shows since the 90s has landed them in the lap of none other than Relapse Records. This is my first full experience with them and I am quite impressed with De Doorn (English: The Thorn).
It takes a few minutes to get moving but once it’s in motion Amenra are a force to behold. With heavy colossal steps they lurch forward with 10 minute tracks that will drag you along with them as if you’re tied by rope to their very feet. You’ll be put through their the ringer of grief and every other kind of harrowing human emotional experience on offer. This isn’t your typical bit of solemn doom, obsessed with beauty and expression, this is a building mid collapse. A snapshot of every part of the journey, not just sadness, not just regret and mourning, but the anger and frustration that comes with the bare nature of existence at it’s core. The nightmares that stir you in your sleep, and leave you wounded even after you wake. A cold sweat you cannot shake, you must face it. You must pay the toll before you enter the light.
The screaming variety on this record allows for the lengthy tracks to pass quickly, showing influences from stalwart post metal bands like Cult Of Luna but also a more contemporary sludgecore side bearing influence from the likes of Thou. I particularly enjoy the hardcore tinged vocals, they bring a sense of urgency and unrest to the songs. Some of the screaming is outright blackened, speaking to the difficulty of the spiritual transition at hand. The disturbing nature of the self-realised in horror.
A poignant excerpt from their lengthy Bandcamp write up:
“The thorn is the most potent of symbols – in religious terms, a reclamation and an agony as a mark of transformation. It’s the nagging reminder of vulnerability and it’s the violent protector, without which beauty cannot thrive. For the cover of De Doorn, it’s been cast in bronze – a thing of value and a memorial, each band member given their own piece to symbolise their own pain and their belonging to the greater whole. In bronze, it is both nature and something else – a mark of singularity and a portal to a continuity that we all share. As Amenra have acknowledged once more, it’s one that hears our call, even when we feel we are at our most alone.”
De Doorn is riddled with delicate and thoughtful moments that give weight to the crushing payoffs. This is largely in part to the folk story telling elements of this album, which brings me to an interesting note: this is the first Amerna album to be sung entirely in Flemish. Beyond the Flemish folk elements are also some chilling vocals contributed by Caro Tanghe of Oathbreaker, which adds a whole new texture to the music, sometimes reminding me of the symphonic lulls found in the Australian Christian funeral doom band Virgin Black. Often this lull, is a false sense of security as clean vocals are quickly twisted into shrieks.
Musically there is a solid base and pace, which is important for post metal. It’s not about showing off in unnecessarily fancy ways, it’s about capitalising on moments and accentuating them vividly. Everything is given it’s time to shine in due course, especially the drums which are comparable to the drumming patience and tone on Terminal by Bongripper – an album following a similar kind of narrative involving a slow torturous process towards transformation and death. Everything is in place, exhibiting discipline and vision.
De Doorn leaves a lasting impression that invites one back to dwell in the moment perpetually.
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