Amenra’s Mass VI (Neurot Recordings)… the type of album you spin on the record player for the misanthrope who found Deafheaven’s Sunbather (Deathwish Inc) to be too cheery and saccharine. The type of upbeat fellow whose balanced breakfast consists of piping-hot black coffee and two Marlboro reds. He’s lots of fun at parties, and by party, I mean the dive-bar where he pounds Guinness and quotes Nietzsche. Yeah, Mass VI is a motherfucker of the highest command.
So much of the heaviness on Mass VI stems from Amenra’s slavish devotion to building tension and a careful eye for dynamics. Before the earth begins to rattle on ‘Children of the Eye’ we are treated to two minutes of gentle ambiance. Once the listener has been lulled to near sleep out comes the captive bolt pistol and motor skills have officially left the building. From then on, the plowing riffs and massive drums begin to cascade like debris. And beneath that mayhem, Colin H. van Eeckhout has been howling his lungs out like a specter yearning for release.
Amenra’s mastery of mood is present on both ‘Edelkroone’ and ‘Spijt’ which are mostly spoken word bits in between songs but give just enough time to recollect your bearings and prepare for the next battle. Also lightening the load are glimpses of acoustic guitar, keyboards and powerful clean vocals that are scattered through the compositions. Eeckhout has some of his best moments on ‘A Solitary Reign’ which is primarily singing and acoustics up until Mathieu J. Vandekerckhove and Lennart Bossu decide to back up a cement mixer worth of construction-grade doom.
So, if you’re the type of person whose best friend is their black cat or feel compelled to stay under the covers for days at a time, we’ve got your album of the year. And as far as everybody else, Mass VI is still killer.