AMENRA SHARE MASS VI CENTER PIECE, "PLUS PRÈS DE TOI (CLOSER TO YOU)"; ALBUM OUT OCT. 20
Heavy music luminaries AMENRA share the centrepiece, "Plus près de toi (Closer to you)", from their phenomenal new album Mass VI (Neurot Recordings, 20th October).
About the 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."
As always with AMENRA, this art has come directly from the souls of the musicians involved. They can establish connections with their listeners more profound than almost any other band because they are direct heart to heart connections. Thus, this pain, this sorrow, and these fleeting moments of joy, they come from those hearts. They are all too real.
Contrasts have always been deep, and at the very heart of AMENRA’s music, ever since they started uttering their Prayers and holding their Masses almost eighteen years ago. Tormented darkness has always coexisted alongside luminous beauty, thunderous impacts instantly followed by frail, delicate subtleties. Songs that seem to engulf everyone in the world at once suddenly feel like they are being whispered to you inside the isolation of your solitary womb.
Mass VI is here, and more than any other album in AMENRA's past, it highlights those contrasts in a deeply affecting way. The eerie quietness of the first couple of minutes of Children Of The Eye announces the coming storm, and the nine explosive, cathartic minutes of this opening song hold in themselves all the strikingly disparate emotions that we have come to expect from AMENRA. Colossal riffs shake the very foundations of our being while singer Colin H. Van Eeckhout shrieks so agonizingly that we can almost picture him on stage, clawing at himself, back turned to us, underneath that one spotlight, feelings laid bare for all to see but at the same time locked in himself, profoundly alone. "I cast no shadow, light is too profound," he spits out. When it's almost too much to bear, there is a crack of light, the sonic rage subsides briefly, the guitars are not on fire for a few seconds, and Colin sings to us as in a lullaby, as he has done lately with his own solo project, CHVE, "one tear at a time," as he whispers softly. The delivery is entirely different, but the intensity is the same, the song continues its uninterrupted path until everything catches fire once more. Nothing but the sparse, spoken seconds of Edelkroone could have followed this, a few seconds of respite before the band starts to carve yet another gash in our heart with Plus Pres De Toi.
Three opening songs, three different moods, three languages – English, Flemish and French –, but the impact is the same, tremendous. And all of this is just the beginning. Mass VI is an emotional rollercoaster until its very last second, until Diaken is abruptly ended at its very climax, as the last breath of an expiring life. Every band member is seemingly being stretched to their physical limits throughout. Colin puts in the performance of a lifetime, but he is inextricably intertwined to the guitarwork of Mathieu J. Vandekerckhove and Lennart Bossu is able to express unimaginable weight, both physical and spiritual, as well as weaving melodies of the utmost delicacy, while the rhythm section of Levy Seynaeve and Bjorn J. Lebon can either rumble like a consuming thunderstorm or retreat to the shadows with the same flowing spontaneity as the atmosphere dictates.
It’s difficult to think of a better person to capture this sonic enormity than Billy Anderson. The legendary American producer was already the chosen one for Mass V, and between Neurosis’ Through Silver In Blood, Sleep’s Dopesmoker, Eyehategod’s Dopesick, Cathedral’s Endtyme or Brutal Truth’s Sounds Of The Animal Kingdom, among many, many others, he’s been a decisive element in the building of many a true classic. Mass VI was recorded in the Belgian Ardennes, a region of thick forests in the southeast end of the country, where the band was snowed in for a week. The album is a reflection of these times.
Children of the Eye
Plus près de toi (Closer to you)
A solitary reign
AMENRA live performances:
28/10 - de Kreun, Kortrijk, BE - SOLD OUT
31/10 - AB, BE - SOLD OUT
7/11 - Werk2, Leipzig DE
8/11 - Scene, Vienna AU
9/11 - la Fabrika, Praha CZ *new addition
17/11 - cc Strombeek Grimbergen BE (acoustic) *new addition
1/12 - cc De Leest Izegem BE (acoustic)
19/01 - Stevenskerk, Nijmegen NL *new addition
20/01 - Doornroosje, Nijmegen NL *new addition
13/01 - Gaité Lyrique, Paris FR *new addition
Mass VI will arrive on Friday, October 20th through Neurot Recordings. Check out the AMENRA Mass VI album trailer here and look for more news to surface soon.
Pre-orders MASS VI now via Neurot Recordings, and in Europe via Consouling Sounds.
The EU version has a different mix and master, as well as different artwork and design than the US version, mixed and mastered by Jack Shirley (Deafheaven, Oathbreaker) at the Atomic Garden, San Francisco. The deluxe edition 2xLP 45rpm 180gr album is available in different limited colours. The band will be selling a special edition at their now sold-out release show in Brussels with screenprinted art.
(words by José Carlos Santos)