The Amenta – Revelator Review

Death metal is all about the riff, as we are well aware. Perhaps the most so out of any metal genre apart from thrash, that foundation-laying nugget of melody is integral to the sound of the genre. If you want atmospheric, black metal is happy to accept you. Blending that sort of wishy-washy layered moodiness into death, especially when not going the dissonant route, takes a bit of a strange beast. Well, The Amenta is a bit of a strange beast. Formed in the late 90’s in Sydney as Crucible of Agony, they released 4 albums after transferring to their new moniker before finally going underground in 2013 after the release of Flesh is Heir. Now the Aussies have reunited under a new label, hoping to stoke the fire anew. But is Revelator a revelation?

The first thing one needs to do when discussing The Amenta is pinpoint their unusual sound. As mentioned, there’s both death metal and a great deal of atmosphere to Revelator, but it doesn’t stop there. There’s a notable -core influence present, particularly in the vocals which stack screams and cleans together in various incongruent combinations, not unlike fellow weirdos The Offering. More notable is the strong industrial vibe, derived from the machine-like drumming, electronic distortions and various sound effects peppering the album. The air thus projected reminds me strongly of various dystopian sci-fi like the games Half-Life and Inside, and should The Amenta ever decide to change their focus towards soundtrack design, I think they could be excellent.

As a metal album, though, I’m a little more mixed of mind, though not entirely negative. Revelator hinges on trying to integrate the stomping aggression of industrial death metal with the ominous dread invoked by industrial atmospheric music, and it doesn’t always succeed at that task. “An Epoch Ellipsis” blasts off with an excellent explosive energy that it can’t sustain past the track’s halfway mark, while “Psoriastasis” effectively exchanges extended blasts with ominous robotic wails. Other times, the calming influence of the moody soundscapes draws the death metal down into a mechanical semi-Samael style. “Overpast” uses a pounding riff pattern that won’t quite cohere into an actually memorable riff, and single “Sere Money” evokes a grimy urban nightmare with its relentless staccato main riff.

When the atmospheric component takes the foreground, the album tends to falter. The dark dystopian mood is sketched out well, but there’s a lack of progression that saps the record of energy, particularly when these sections make up entire tracks such as the whisper-filled “Silent Twin” or the overlong centerpiece “Twined Towers.”1 As bridges within the tracks they are less intrusive to the album’s flow, working to diversify the songwriting and set the tone. Not that diversity of writing is ever a problem; with its many moods and paces, Revelator is never less than interesting even when not all the parts fit together.

When this balance between aggression and atmosphere is right, you can tell just what The Amenta is going for. As the record plays and the band’s searchlights glide from straight-up death metal to atmosphere and back, there are plenty of times the needle crosses into successful hybrid conglomeration, but it never seems to stick for long. I’m not familiar with the band’s pre-hiatus records, so I can’t say how Revelator stacks up to its predecessors, whether this tightrope act was performed more or less successfully there or even whether it was attempted at all. It’s a difficult album to pin down, and a bit of a frustrating one to listen to. But I must give it kudos for always being interesting, even if not everything it does pays off in the end.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Debemur Morti Productions
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: February 19th, 2021

Show 1 footnote

  1. ‘Twined’ towers? Are those towers wrapped in twine?
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