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elrrek
PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 8:53 pm  Reply with quote
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Now then, this should be interesting.

One of the hottest topics on the board is Amenra and whether they are a valid "band" or merely another in the crop of Isis-following post-rock / post-metal / post-shoe-gazer blah blah blah, and we all know where my feelings lie on this matter but still I'd like to write a few words on my feelings on the new album.

The record comes in some very nice packaging. The artwork is very nice indeed though a little difficult to see it has to be admitted. For a label that really isn't that big Hyper Tension really do appear to either put together very nice packages or believe in their bands vision enough to put the money behind them when it comes to presenting their music. In the case of Amenra (I'm still not sure how to spell it) someone has produced a cover, a sleeve for the cd case and a 6 panel folded insert (minus lyrics) which goes further into "DARness" than "Mass III" and deepens the mystique of the band and their imagery. What does it actually look like though ... ? WEll, the whole thing is BLACK. The only thing that isn't BLACK is the music side of the CD. The front cover appears to be sme devastated land scape, the internal appears to be a mausoleum with some "things" skeleton on it (familiar theme for Amenra). The other side is very difficult to interpret but it's DARk.

The music of "Mass IIII" is a very interesting prospect. There are seven pieces, one of which is a shortish but highly effective instrumental utilising some clever delays and serious heaviness. The rest of the material is the Amenra we have come to know and in some cases love. There is however a misgiving and now I can hear the crowing and see the smirks already. When Mike and I first put this record on in his flat on Friday night before the gig (I shan't neglect that Mrs Mike was there also) it was with a certain horror that we discerned from the speakers definite evidence of the influence of a certain band, the name of this band is Isis. Now, no doubt a bunch of you are all going - "ha ha ha, told you so, now shut up and bite me Kerr" and to an extent I am going to give you that. I own Isis's "Celestial" and have vague recollections of "Oceanic" before chucking it back to the shop. From these recollections I can say that there are indeed guitar tones, chord structures and progressions that point to an Isis influence in "Mass IIII", I will not deny this. There are also elements of Neurosis in their sound, for example "DE DODENAKKER", the longest song on the album has a riff in it that is classic Neurosis at their sludguest and most "chuggable". I can also hear what some people hear in earlier Cult of Luna in "Mass IIII", the primal, thundering crushing weight and determination to flatten everything.

There is more to it though. The vocalist (Colin?) does not let up, ever. His voice is on the edge of manic scream for 90% of the record and when he's not doing that he's crooning in a manner that Aaron Turner might learn from and this croon is not a light smattering to lighten the mood, it's the sound of a man who's stopped shouting at you for a moment to let you know that he's going to be shouting again in a minute and that the message isn't any different, you are fucked.

I also want to mention the drummer, Bjorn. Bjorn had a small chat with us in the afternoon before the show where we discussed the technicality of the other touring band on the bill, Battlefields, and how Amenra feel they realte to that. Battlefields are a typical US band, they KNOW how to plaz their instruments. Amenra (Bjorn) claim to be less proficient and just getr by at what they do, but that does them a terrible disservice. Amenra, to my hears, know EXACTLY what they are doing. They know when to hold a riff down, they know when to throw it out with full force, they know when to knock it back a bit and reel it in and their drummer knows EXACTLY how to drum the band. His drumming is simple, non-flashy and incredibly effective. On "Razoreater" all of these elements come together. It starts off with the prelude tune "Terziele" which has some fantastic disharmonics and delay work going on and is a classic dragging doom riff. "Razoreater" itself opens with a signature Amenra "strum" and then fires straight into "the riff", Colin is preaching in ernest and then just over 2 minutes into the almost 7 minute long song they roll out one of their more melodic moments with a confidence that allows them to pretty much drop the song away to almost nothing. Over the next 2 minutes they build this up until they retunr to a slowed down version of "the riff" and use this new found confidence in their song craft to embelish the riff and take the song beyond where it started and beyond an earlier version of Amenra.

Closing the album are two songs which cause me a bit of difficulty. Both of these songs - I am almost tempted to say suffer - exhibit the afore mentioned elements of influence and to an extent leave me wanting more from them. It is in these songs that I have detected my one great discomfort with the record and that is the production. "Mass III" is huge. Stick the CD on your stereo and it's huge, play it on your personal mp3 and it's huge, play it from your computers hard disc and it's huge. On certain tunes of "Mass IIII" it is NOT huge. The riffs are there, the SONGS are there but the sound is not. I don't know what is going on here but for all of the album except "Terziel" and "Razoreater" it sounds like someone snuck in and turned all the amps down or swapped the distortion pedals for something a bit less raging. I've not done it yet but I *suspect* that if you turn this record up very, very loud then it will reach a new level and all of this worry will disappear in a new found loudness and clarity (more on this later) but at lower, regular volumes, the production is missing something. The vocals have been very well represented on the record, as have the drums but the guitars and especially the bass are considerably lacking imho.

So, in conclusion, if you like "Mass III" you will like "Mass IIII". There has been a definite progression in the band but this has perhaps been lost in a production/mix that has let them down. In terms of song writing "Razoreater" takes the band to a new level and the rest of the material points to a more expansive and epic sounding band.

Now, seeing as this review is turning into the lord of the rings in scale I am going to keep the review of the live gig they played short.

First mention goes to Lusca. We know who Avocado Mike is, we've probably all heard his bands recorded output. I got to hear Lusca practise before the gig and also watch their set and I can honestly say that I was impressed. Lusca get up on stage and play LONG songs using a drum machine, sparse synths, 2 bass guitars and voice. That's abut half of the instrumentation fo a regular live band and they were missing nothing. The sound was lud, filled out and took the songs where they needed to go. They played a new song which I liked a great deal and for a band that doesn't play out much you would think that they did it twice a week as the house band at a cocktail bar for heavy music fans called "Grimm and DAR Measure". There was one moment in the set where things were a bit less than they could have been, a song called "the Shore" I think, but having talked with Mike about this it's something they know about. If you get the chance go and see Lusca and be prepared to be impressed beyond that fact that you know one of the members.

Battlefields. As suspected, their material that is posted on myspace comes considerably more alive on stage. Servicable "doom/sludge/screamo" band with electronics.

Amenra. I said earlier in the week that I can't actually begin to describe how good this show was apart from saying "it was three years too short". The most important thing that you should know about an Amenra show is that when they are playing live ALL of the afore mentioned misgivings disappear. Every last one of them. The Isis influence is non-existant, the Neurosis bits get pounded into an Amenra shape and Cult of Luna need to watch out. The volume that they produced was phenomenal, the power being projected from the band is incredible and I pretty much danced for their entire set which is unheard of for me in the last 3 years. Colin's vocals are incredible and Bjorns drumming takes on a new level, in fact everything just gets amplified to greatness. Go see them, prepare to have your prejudices elimanted.

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iscariah
PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2008 1:30 pm  Reply with quote
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elrrek wrote:
(minus lyrics)
Lift the cd-tray ...


+ first time I played the cd was at my normal volume. Second time I put the music up much louder and the sound really comes more out then.


There's certainly some Isis and Neurosis in there. But they do their own thing. They are better than Isis on CD is now and have more balls than the latest Neurosis-record.

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elrrek
PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2008 1:38 pm  Reply with quote
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iscariah wrote:
elrrek wrote:
(minus lyrics)
Lift the cd-tray ...


Tip of the day provided by Jenci!

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iscariah
PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2008 4:37 pm  Reply with quote
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Upcoming in 2008:
Amen Ra/ Battlefields Split 12''

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Bernard
PostPosted: Thu Jun 26, 2008 3:56 pm  Reply with quote
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elrrek wrote:
iscariah wrote:
elrrek wrote:
(minus lyrics)
Lift the cd-tray ...


Tip of the day provided by Jenci!

You see, I don't waste my time reading this board. I learn always interesting things. Thanks for the tip iscariah.

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elrrek
PostPosted: Fri Jun 27, 2008 9:25 am  Reply with quote
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I still can't believe how long that review is ...

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iscariah
PostPosted: Fri Jun 27, 2008 4:29 pm  Reply with quote
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I've been playing this album every day since I got it. It's the best album that's going to come out in this genre this year. It kicks 98% of the asses of the albums in this style that will come out this year. That two procent is "Humanfly - II" which was a big surprise for me and Overmars who might release an album, so I'm covering myself in. Wink The rest of those bands, the 98%: Prove me wrong ...

This album is pure, raw emotion. Ra comes from the heart. And I love it.

I think this quote out of a Belgian (Dutch-language) interview with Colin is great:
"Pain is universal, but we bring hope"

Through all the bleakness and harshness that is Mass IIII there always shines a ray of light, of hope ... that's what I feel.

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Monotremata
PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 8:35 pm  Reply with quote
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elrrek wrote:
Now then, this should be interesting.

One of the hottest topics on the board is Amenra and whether they are a valid "band" or merely another in the crop of Isis-following post-rock / post-metal / post-shoe-gazer blah blah blah


Hell if people think Monotremata is worth a shit, in that respect AmenRa is fucking god.

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iscariah
PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 8:43 pm  Reply with quote
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Monotremata wrote:

Hell if people think Monotremata is worth a shit, in that respect AmenRa is fucking god.
You ordered them Chris?

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avocado diaboli
PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2008 11:33 am  Reply with quote
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I am (again) a complete Twonk and it took me weeks to see Kerr's lengthy report on the gig and the AmenRa album.

The Lord Of The Rings of album reviews indeed. MASS IIII could kill a large number of Orcs or probably Elves if played loud enough, I guess.

Anyway. I have nothing to add except that I thank Isc for the hint about the lyrics. Tricky...

Thanx to Kerr for his kind words about LUSCA. I don't think we came anywhere near what we sound on a good rehearsal day but it was ok I guess. The beginning of "The Shore" is indeed one of our weakest moments while the second half of the song is one of our finest I dare say. Yesterday we fumbled around with the track and I think we'll do a new version of it soon.

Etc. bla bla... meh!

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elrrek
PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2008 2:56 pm  Reply with quote
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avocado diaboli wrote:
Etc. bla bla... meh!


Mosh.

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iscariah
PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2008 3:26 pm  Reply with quote
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elrrek wrote:
avocado diaboli wrote:
Etc. bla bla... meh!


Mosh.
FASLE

Slam Dancing ist krieg!

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elrrek
PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2008 12:47 pm  Reply with quote
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I am just listening to this right now and it's still magic.

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iscariah
PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2008 4:45 pm  Reply with quote
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elrrek wrote:
I am just listening to this right now and it's still magic.


indeed!

I listen to it every day at least once and it seems impossible to get bored with it. It hits all the right spots on a musical and an emotional level. You can hear blood, sweat and tears in this record.

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iscariah
PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 8:22 pm  Reply with quote
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Vinyl is coming after the summer, more info will be revealed soon:

From what I read in an interview, coming out in the future:
Kingdom (CD/12")
Split with Battlefields
Splits with other bands
Falling Down (Compilation with Overmars, Pelican, Knut, http://www.myspace.com/fallingdowncompilation)
Mass IIII LP
DVD
Church Of Ra book

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Bernard
PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 7:35 am  Reply with quote
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iscariah wrote:
Falling Down (Compilation with Overmars, Pelican, Knut, http://www.myspace.com/fallingdowncompilation)

Knut, Kylesa, Celeste, Dirge, Overmars, Zatokrev, Rorcal, Aside From A Day... Hum... With some unreleased tracks... Looks nice.
I will see how to pre-order it.

About Mass IIII, I like it a lot (one of the best releases this year no doubt) but for the moment I still have a preference for Mass III...

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iscariah
PostPosted: Sat Jul 26, 2008 11:58 am  Reply with quote
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Bernard wrote:
iscariah wrote:
Falling Down (Compilation with Overmars, Pelican, Knut, http://www.myspace.com/fallingdowncompilation)

Knut, Kylesa, Celeste, Dirge, Overmars, Zatokrev, Rorcal, Aside From A Day... Hum... With some unreleased tracks... Looks nice.
I will see how to pre-order it.

About Mass IIII, I like it a lot (one of the best releases this year no doubt) but for the moment I still have a preference for Mass III...
On a musical level I still find it very hard to say, but on an emotional level is what decided for me. IIII is so intense and goes much deeper, IMO.

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elrrek
PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 7:39 am  Reply with quote
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See the clouds in the back ground ... if this is what AmenRa does to the weather, think what they can do to you!!!

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iscariah
PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 3:29 pm  Reply with quote
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If there is one picture that defines Ra ... it's that one!

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I Don't Need God
PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 6:12 pm  Reply with quote
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iscariah wrote:
If there is one picture that defines Ra ...




Very Happy

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iscariah
PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 7:00 pm  Reply with quote
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I Don't Need God wrote:
iscariah wrote:
If there is one picture that defines Ra ...




Very Happy
Isis today wishes they were as good as Ra ... LEARN TO ACCEPT IT AND LISTEN TO THEM GODDAMNIT!

Colin recently busted himself open again live (during the first song!), right around the ear:


This is epic on a Neurosis-level!



Anyway, the rerelease of the Kingdom demo (now on MCD and 12") is out. No mailorders have it yet but should come soon enough.

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JMA689
PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 9:02 pm  Reply with quote
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iscariah wrote:
Isis today wishes they were as good as Ra ... LEARN TO ACCEPT IT AND LISTEN TO THEM GODDAMNIT!


Yes, but does Amen Ra have a hippie playing the keyboard?
I DIDN'T THINK SO!
5 more points to Isis for the hippie keyboardist.

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elrrek
PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2008 7:14 am  Reply with quote
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You guys are very lucky that my lovely - and quite dangerous - girl friend is back from the US this week ... or she would be coming to your house to kill you.

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JMA689
PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2008 8:57 am  Reply with quote
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awww where did she go in the us?

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iscariah
PostPosted: Sat Aug 30, 2008 12:05 am  Reply with quote
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JMA689 wrote:
awww where did she go in the us?
She visited all the places where Ra performed. Sightseeing ... Wink

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elrrek
PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 3:33 pm  Reply with quote
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Quote:
It has incredible Mass. Mass beyong measurement. Which Can drag anything. Apparently it can even bend light. That's how powerful it is.

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