Sometimes life gets dark. For how selfish it may sound, sometimes things happen to you that make all the worldly issues scatter across the floor, like mercury from a broken thermometer. No matter how you try, you don’t give a shit about anything as you fall deeper and deeper into yourself. That’s the power of depression. And, the only person you’d rather avoid, rather not talk to, and rather not care for is the one that consumes you. For the last few months, these feelings have been fueled by Amenra‘s Mass VI. It doesn’t matter how many times I hear this album, it burns deeper each time and I can’t help but die a little more with each spin.
If you’ve ever heard Amenra, this comes as no surprise. This clergy of the Church of Ra, as well as members of fantastic Belgian acts like Oathbreaker and Wiegedood, have been preaching to me for over a decade. And Mass VI is one of their best sermons yet. Like all their albums, it’s one that should be “enjoyed” from beginning to end. Every song builds on the other, every intermission is a necessary chance to exhale, and the sermon’s punchline will leave you worse off than you were before you arrived. To enjoy Mass VI is to invite pain and darkness into your life. Yet, I can’t help but play it one more time.
And our journey begins with the sound of growing post-metal guitars. From inaudible to downright explosive, “Children of the Eye” bursts forth with a devastating intensity. The heaviness of the guitars club your knees as Colin Van Eeckhout screams in agony. And, minus the midsection of the song, this aggressiveness never lets up. But, like most of the songs on this record, the calmer moments are far and between—being crushed once more under the Neurosis-like gigantism of the guitars and drums, as the song builds to a massive finale. After a short intermission, “Plus Près de Toi (Closer to You)” follows the same recipe, except this time, the chill middle of the song is even moodier than its predecessor. Where the opener’s darker middle brews, hinting at a heart-crushing climax, the hopelessness of “Plus Près de Toi” hints at nothingness. And, when the distortion returns, there’s still nothing—hopeless fucking nothing.
The opening cold guitars and clean vocals of “A Solitary Reign” finally snap and lay to waste to the hope that seemingly lurked on the horizon. Then the doomy Neurosis-like guitars come down hard, squashing any happiness that might have been in my heart. But the closing moments of the song, with its mix of screams, reverberating cleans, and guitar leads pushing to the front, leave me crippled. And “Diaken” does nothing to help my broken mood—being that it’s the best, the heaviest, the most-depressing, and the most-devastating track on the album. Opening like its predecessor, it makes a quick turn to darkness—bashing, crashing, and smashing everything good in the world. And when you think it’s peaked, it falls and climbs once more. The result is the strongest and most-powerful outro on the album. So good is it that “Diaken” threatens to be Song o’ the Year.
Though I missed the opportunity to get this one out for regular review, I’m stoked to get the chance to review it as a TYMHM. This record is, by far, one of the best albums I’ve heard in 2017 and, though it’s horribly devastating, it will forever be a part of my 2017 top ten.
Tracks to check out: “Plus Près de Toi (Closer to You),” “Solitary Reign,” and “Diaken”