De Doorn by AmenraRelease date: June 25, 2021
Label: Relapse Records
I don’t think it will be too controversial to state that Amenra is one of the world’s best post-metal bands and one of the greatest live acts to exist. Some of the biggest names in post-metal have failed to progress from their past glories, with De Doorn, Amenra makes it seem an exceptionally easy process. A departure from the Mass titled series see the band fully fold together its ambient and aggressive facets. This has been done with exemplary aplomb to continue to create depths and heaviness that remain as intense as ever before.
By the nature of being ritualistic Amenra have a number of trademarks which give them a uniqueness which makes it obvious when they have been an influence on others. On De Doorn there isn’t so much of the traditional angular repetitive build-ups, which is instead replaced with a good deal more ambience, yet somehow there is no dip in the intensity. This is clearly still Amenra and the result is still emotionally cleansing while sinking to quieter depths and still smashing the agonising pain that is a hallmark.
Opener ‘Ogentroost’ displays this change immediately as drones and a slowly plucked guitar begin to emerge from a prolonged deathly silence and spoken word lays the ground before the track explodes. The guest vocals of Oathbraker’s Caro Tanghe contribute spoken word in the fully ambient ‘De Dood In Bloei’ as well as in the raging ‘De Evenmens’. ‘Het Gloren’ is the true marriage of the two worlds of Amenra as slow build up with a tremendously catchy riff is dominated by the screams of Colin H. Van Eeckhout before the song just drops and the spoken narrative takes centre stage before remerging to the anguished shrieks.
Even when the guitar is in a heavier mode it still seems to be played differently than the Mass albums. The tone is darker and almost warm in its expansiveness, but as with before it still causes the same feelings of tension and emotive release as it is pinned with the exceptional vocal screams. Closer ‘Voor Immer’ clamps together all the sounds of Amenra as it moves from spoken word to clean vocals to the cleansing crescendo of screams, slow pounding drums and crushing guitar work. Amenra never fails with an album closer and ‘Voor Immer’ is certainly up there as a classic.
It is horribly clichéd to say this is their lightest but heaviest album to date, but it is. Amenra has never had to stretch deep into a heavy approach to make abrasive and emotive music and De Doorn is no different, the true success here is that Amenra has shifted and progressed yet still kept an enormous emotional intensity to its work and after all these years it is a staggering achievement