Albums of the Year – #1

AMENRA – MASS VI

I’m not gonna sit here and pretend like I’m the world’s longest-running Amenra fan. I saw them open up for Converge & Neurosis in August having never heard of them before, and in a whirlwind romance over the fall they’ve quickly become one of myAmenra favorite bands. So you can imagine how excited I was to discover that Mass VI was coming out this winter. My expectations LITERALLY could not have been higher for this release. If my Spotify versions of Mass III and IV were actual records I would have worn them out in the months leading up to this release. So did it live up to my own hype?

You better fucking believe it. Mass VI isn’t the best album ever. It probably even isn’t Amenra’ best work (god Mass III is good, isn’t it?), but this is an incredible album. Mass VI is a case study in how metal doesn’t have to rely on technical wizardly and sheer speed to be heavy. Never much for guitar wankery, Amenra have slowed things down on Mass VI, creating a crushingly dark sound that hits with the force of thunder on every beat. The song writing is so good, and the musicianship so spot on, and just about every little thing about this album is perfect.

The biggest departure from the previous Mass albums is the expansion of clean vocals, which were previously almost non-existent. They work out to be the perfect juxtaposition to his hellish screams, providing a perfect counterbalance while still instilling a sense of dread and unease throughout. There are quite a few metal bands that have achieved success recently by embracing clean vocals (Mastodon, Opeth and Gojira spring to mind), but Amenra are the unlikeliest success story of the bunch.

If I was nit-picking (and who doesn’t love picking nits), I would say that the only drawback is that on an album with four true tracks on it, 2 of the four fall merely into the “really, really good” category (“Children of the Eye” & “Plus Pres De Toi”), rather than the “great” category (“A Solitary Reign” & “Diaken”). But even so, the closing tracks are so strong (and the other tracks certainly strong enough) that Mass VI is a relatively easy pick for my Album of the Year.

HIGHLIGHT TRACKS

“A Solitary Reign”, “Diaken”

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