In early December we got a big but very welcome surprise when Debemur Morti Productions announced that they would be releasing a new album by the avant-garde Australian death metal band The Amenta (the band’s first full-length in almost eight years), and sprung upon us a video for the album’s first advance track, “Sere Money“. And now we’re springing upon you a video for the album’s second single, “An Epoch Ellipsis“, along with an interview of the The Amenta’s Timothy Pope which focuses on what you’re about to see and hear.
The name of the new album is Revelator, and Debemur Morti has set February 19th as the release date. As DMP rightly reports, it is “the culmination of nearly 20 years’ collective experimentation in nonconformist, dissonant, dynamic and electronically-lacerated Death Metal”. And although we typically resist just copy/pasting promotional texts written by others, the following passage does a very good job as an introduction to the manifold experiences the album presents:
“The Amenta have used their 7-year hiatus to methodically deconstruct and reimagine their already distinctive core sound: incorporating maximalist Industrial Black Metal ballast, disturbingly cinematic Ambient/Noise textures, treated violin, dread acoustics and circuit-bent electronics into a labyrinthine set of infectious hymns to societal collapse which juxtapose dreamlike moments of strange calm with sensory overload, savage discord and unease”.
As for the specific song that’s the subject of today’s video premiere — the song that the band chose to open the album — we’ll also share this comment from The Amenta:
“We chose ‘An Epoch Ellipsis’ as the second single as it represents the other side of the album to ‘Sere Money’. There is so much range in the tracks on Revelator and we want to give people a taste of the extremes early on. ‘An Epoch Ellipsis’ is, in some ways, closer to what people would expect from The Amenta. It has blast beats, it’s very aggressive and fast, especially in the first half, but it also continues the examination of structural entropy that was present in ‘Sere Money’, the song almost literally collapses after the opening barrage and is built back up into something completely new. A guest lead guitar performance from our great friend Joe Haley of Psycroptic introduces a new, epic feel that is another aspect of Revelator which might surprise people.”
The Amenta’s Timothy Pope has also explained the “An Epoch Ellipsis” was chosen as the album opener because of its “initial spark, energy and upfront aggression”: “This is fundamentally, an aggressive and nasty album and it needs to be introduced in that way.”
“An Epoch Ellipsis” is indeed aggressive and nasty, but also creepy — indeed so intensely chilling that it will send shivers up and down most listeners’ spines. It doesn’t take long before the music erupts in a paroxysm of derangement — just a brief militaristic drum tattoo and a bit of imperious fretwork. When the seizure comes, the guitars blare and skitter, the drumming blazes like an overheating machine-gun, and Cain Cressall tears his throat apart in unhinged screams. When the drum attack relents and the bass bubbles to the surface, Cressall sings with disturbing intensity — he doesn’t really sound any less crazed than before — and the music then seems to drift off into a haunting but perilous dimension.
That paranormal interlude, in its own way, is just as severed from sanity as what preceded it. As the music slowly begins to intensify again, dissonant riffing puts your teeth on edge and percussive hammer blows will dent your skull. The music shimmers and soars in a semblance of mad grandeur, while the double-bass thunder does its best to decimate everything in its path. At the end, reverberating notes and disturbing pulsations send the music again into haunting other-dimensions.
The video, directed by Garth Hurley, is itself a disturbing companion to the music.
In case you missed the video for “Sere Money“, we’re including that one as well. It’s a flamboyantly macabre video, the most sedate scenes of which consist of a clean-faced, black-gloved, red-tied Cain Cressall screaming his lungs out. Macabre imagery is nothing new to The Amenta, but this video, along with today’s, may now sit at the pinnacle.
As for the music, “Sere Money” is another sign that in the long years since their last album the band have moved in new directions. It begins with a sinister and swaggering riff over a rocking beat, followed by an almost cinematic melody accompanied by Cressall‘s wailing vocals (his vocals change almost constantly and unpredictably during the song). And then things start to get increasingly strange and disturbing. As Timothy Pope commented, it becomes a “collapse into entropic disarray”. The drums pound and pound, but all the elaborate audio textures around them are hallucinatory and alien. Fascinating stuff….
Below you’ll find the interview of Timothy Pope that we promised, conducted by Debemur Morti, and it provides plenty of insights into the video we’re presenting today.
DMP will release the album on CD, vinyl, tape, and digital formats. You’ll find pre-order opportunities via the links below. Credit for the creepy band photos you have seen goes to Emanuel Rudnicki (assisted by Jack Cressall, Aaron Mangano, Garth Hurley, and Tom Cuthbert), and the album’s cover was created by Metastazis.
Good evening guys and thank you for taking again time to answer three questions concerning the video clip for ‘An Epoch Ellipsis’. First, could you comment a bit on the genesis of this specific video clip? What was the underlying idea behind these moving pictures accompanying ‘An Epoch Ellipsis’? In what way do the pictures represent the musical vibe of the composition? Is there a special reason why you decided to use a black and white frame for this clip?
Timothy: The black and white style for this film clip seemed to suit the track well, which is a much nastier affair than the last single ‘Sere Money’. Where that clip was a multi-coloured fever dream, this time we wanted to show something that was a bit darker and grimier, and the black and white style seemed the perfect way to show this while differentiating the two clips.
The last clip was filmed by our vocalist, Cain Cressall, in Perth where COVID was less of a concern and he was able to bring together a larger crew and cast. This time, we filmed in all the home states of the band and we were forced to be a lot more economical with our production as we had recently had some resurgence of the virus and couldn’t get out as much, but I don’t think that held us back. All it did was force us to dig into our subconscious to pull out images that are perhaps simpler, but effective on a gut level.
‘An Epoch Ellipsis” is a key track for the album, “Revelator”. It opens the album and introduces several musical and structural themes that are explored later, and it also has echoes of our past albums in some of the riffs. In some ways we wanted to pay tribute to that by having a clip that felt like it lives in the same horror universe as the ‘Teeth’ and ‘Vermin’ clips of some past releases.
Could you tell us how especially the shots of frontman Cain were done? How were his shots in the water done? And did you take some specific inspiration for the aesthetics of these pictures from movies or other artforms? Were there some aesthetic role models, so to speak?
Timothy: Cain’s shots were inspired by religious iconography, particularly Catholic images of the crucifixion, as they speak to even the irreligious on a primal level. I think that may be mixed in with some inspiration for films like Begotten and Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ images. All that inspiration goes into our brains and gets spewed out, alchemically changed as something new. When we are talking about imagery and themes, especially this time around, we’re less interested in what they mean, more interested in how the “feel”. If the juxtaposition of images feels true in some primal sense then the meaning is inherent, even if it isn’t clear. Which is a fancy way of saying that the imagery is there to spark interest and confusion in equal measure.
To shoot Cain’s parts, we once again worked with Garth Hurley (who also edited the film clip) of www.crtfilms.com.au, who shot and directed the ‘Sere Money’ clip as well. Cain and Garth created a pool filled with blackened water. I don’t know what substance they used to blacken the water. Considering Cain’s predilection for maggots and rot, I’m too afraid to ask. The room was blacked-out with black plastic, as all our shots were, and Cain tried to sing while drowning himself in the black pool.
We can see you wearing tuxedos while playing your instruments in this video clip, which obviously reminds listeners a bit of the typical aesthetics of Modern and Industrial Metal. How did this specific outfit develop? Is there a hidden message behind that one? Are you playing – at least in this video clip – with the naked and archaic presentation of frontman Cain’s anguish and the sterile and distant performance of the instrumental fraction dressed in suits and expressionless masks? Are you playing with the two poles of interpreting “man as beast” and “tamed man”?
Timothy: The two sides of mankind is certainly an aspect of the themes of the album and of this song. We’ve been dealing with that concept for a few albums now in various guises and I have no doubt that it’s slipped in here too. In particular, the song deals with several themes, among them is an internal collapse which is mirrored in external chaos. You can present an external cohesion and go about your daily life, meanwhile internally you are rotting and feel like your insides are disintegrating. As always for this album, our choice is to allow images to come to us naturally, without challenging them too much for meaning at first. The juxtaposition of the suits and the masks seemed to work on an unspoken level. In retrospect, to me it is a perfect representation of that internal chaos while presenting, or attempting to present, an acceptable social “whole”. Similarly, the juxtaposition of the band shots, of us in suits and mask, with Cain’s more primal drowning in blackness works for me on that same subconscious level. The imagery is there to be interpreted by the listener or viewer and I believe that any interpretation is a valid one.