(We present the fourth and final installment from an avalanche of reviews that DGR delivered unto us earlier this week, and today’s edition focuses on the newest album by Australia’s The Amenta, which is being released today by Debemur Morti Productions.)
It’s been a good bit of time since we last heard from the Australian amorphous extreme metal genre-hoppers The Amenta. Their sound has expanded widely over the years, with releases that range from a blackened death metal vein, to industrialized monstrosities, and even some straightforward noise and black metal collisions for fun. I’ve even seen them granted the genre-descriptor of ‘terminator metal’ a few times, given their favoring of distorted electronic backings that can often sound like failing machinery.
By the time of 2013’s Flesh Is Heir the group’s sound was firmly planted in a vast maelstrom of industrial noise and blackened death metal, and it is a release that we have yelled about for a long time – largely my fault – at this here site. The eight years since then, though, have been relatively quiet and have seen The Amenta‘s various musicians spread far and wide. It seemed for a little while that the group would be slowly shadowed out – that is, until the announcement of the group’s newest album Revelator.
Much like previous The Amenta releases it was difficult to predict what to expect, especially given the near-eight-year gap between albums. What Revelator is, though, is a whole other subject: It’s a disc that feels the most like every member of The Amenta getting to flex their muscles musically. No one falls to the wayside or winds up fading into the background. If anything, one can notice an increased presence by the group’s vocalist that leans heavily into the visual direction for the band, which is certainly one way to avoid having to writhe around in dirt and filth for another album cycle.
Yet it keeps to tradition with its predecessors, because it feels very different from the album that preceded it. Added to that, Revelator has one of the more wild song distributions that has happened in a while, resulting in a record that often murders its own momentum and seems perversely overjoyed in doing so. Long story short: much like the discs prior to it, Revelator is a weird one.
Brandishing a track-list of nine songs whose titles vary between plays on words, portmanteu, and general darkness, Revelator is about forty-five minutes of densely packed and abrasive music. The Amenta pick up where Flesh Is Heir left off for the most part, before choosing to contort and deform what was already a musically mutilated creature. As a result you have some of the heaviest and the strangest among The Amenta‘s musical experiments to date within Revelator. It also presents one of the stranger album flows out there, with far-reaching songs that do things like slam a quiet and purposefully haunting number third in the album lineup, after a heavy opener in “An Epoch Ellipsis” and the demented and catchy follower in “Sere Money”.
If you want Revelator in microcosm, “An Epoch Ellipsis” might be your best bet since much of what makes up the album seems packed into that track’s five minutes. It’s heavy as hell up front with guest guitar work from Psycroptic’s Joe Haley before it completely morphs into a different beast like a bungee cord snapping backwards. The immense hammering that comprises the opening minute quickly becomes a discordant mess, like The Amenta couldn’t resist leaning immediately on the button labeled “abrasive” so they could sand listener’s faces off. It does eventually return for a closing few minutes of what could be best characterized as an assault, but the sudden pace changes like that color Revelator as a whole.
The band make a blueprint for the disc in the first song and then spend the rest of the album’s forty minutes blowing every idea out from there… which is funny, given that “Sere Money” might be one of the most ‘traditional’ songs The Amenta have in their arsenal…for a bit… before it changes from being a Khold-channeling black-and-roll song into another wailing creature. The Amenta throw their curveballs early and then throw them constantly from there on out.
It’s how you can best explain the fascinating wall of sound that is “Silent Twin” and how The Amenta go from full metallic assault into the industrial noise-battering so easily. “Twined Towers” also does a similar act two songs later – following one of the album highlights of “Psoriastatis”, which is one of the heavier batterings if you’re looking to headbang as it channels the ghosts of songs from Flesh Is Heir with ease – but expands outward, with the whole midsection of Revelator morphing into a trip through ambient noise hell for a time. You go from a metallic, clanging pulse in “Silent Twin” and then get one straightforward crusher of a song and then its right back into the noise maelstrom for nearly eight minutes while “Twined Tower” slowly writhes around.
In fact, it isn’t really until the last two songs of Revelator that you get a solid block of mechanized death metal with vocalist Cain Cressal howling over the top of it. The whole mid-section of Revelator seems to go ‘song’, ‘haunting noise assault’, ‘song’, ‘noise assault that breaks into song and back to noise assault’, and so forth. It makes for an intriguing trip through the mutilated heart works the band seek to portray on their cover art.
Much like Flesh Is Heir, when it comes to personal preference, the last few songs of Revelator – outside of “Sere Money”, which has permanently scarred itself across my brain matter – are some of the greater highlights. It seems that for all the fascinating experimentation across the album, the way Tim Pope seems to reach beyond his wall of sound to try and drown the band as well in an increasingly static pattern and all the impressively varied vocal work, when The Amenta focus on putting their foot to the floor and hammers to skulls they can absolutely kick ass.
“Psoriostatis” is an early example but the later pairing of “Overpast” and “Parse Over” are fantastic demonstrations of the fused form that The Amenta have become. “Overpast” tosses itself around like a bound monster and is bouyed by a massive drum section; having it follow the quieter “Wonderlost” provides a sense of finality to Revelator’s shifts between noisier attack and straightforward musical flamethrower. When it finally fades into “Parse Over” after a wall of drumming and distortred noise, you almost have to shake your brain loose for a bit because it’s enough of an assault on the senses that you’ll have locked up. If they sought to make an epic that matched “Tabula Rasa” from Flesh Is Heir – down to the massive drumming – then The Amenta did so with “Overpast”. “Parse Over” is the leviathan-which-strides-the-Earth-song of Revelator. It starts huge and ends huge, as if being summoned by the ritual of the song prior. It’s one hell of a way to send an album out.
It’s good to have The Amenta back because their brand of difficult-to-pin-down music is something not many do. Their heavy emphasis on electronics is one of the few that merges well with their blackened death metal hybrid. Nearly eight years passing wouldn’t even be noticeable if you just took them album by album, as Revelator plays out like an expansion upon ideas presented during Flesh Is Heir. Granted, The Amenta put themselves in the role of mad scientist here and contort those ideas into forms unrecognizable at times for the purpose of creating an oppressive atmosphere, but still, the tale as told by Revelator is one of the heavier things out there. If you let this mechanistic apocalypse embrace you, then you’ll certainly find some absolute crushers to headbang along to.
Here’s hoping that this represents a new era of liveliness for the band and hopefully there won’t be such a large gap between this and the next release.