By Gruesome Greg
Despite what the title seems to indicate, this is album number four from Belgian post-sludge collective Amenra. (I can’t recall a Mass IV, anyways…) These European touring partners of Neurosis are now signed to Neurot, so that should probably give you an indication of what to expect, right off the bat.
Alas, a mere four songs make up this album’s 40-minute runtime, most hovering around the nine-minute mark. Opener “Dearborn and Buried” appears to be about the rise of Detroit—though I suspect they might just like the word “Dearborn.” The bellowed vocals don’t offer much indication as to the lyrical content, in any case. This song starts off slow with light, airy riffage clanging over pounding drums, before a heavy, sludgy, Sabbathian riff darkens the mood. The hardcore shrieks don’t sound entirely out of place, I suppose, but I’d love to hear some trad-doom singing here. We do get some meditative chanting along with a change of pace as the song rolls along, Neurosis racing OM in a tortoise vs. tortoise affair. Things then slow down into plaintive, almost droning, instrumental territory as we hit the finish line.
“Boden” begins with what sounds like swords being crossed, building up slowly into a decent Zoroastrian jam. Once again, the vocals are somewhat irksome, but the riffs roll along nicely, slow ‘n heavy as she goes. Eventually, things slow to a crawl, that clanging steel sound returning with some half-whispered vocals. After that section draws on for a little too long, another burst of heavy riffage brings this one to its conclusion.
“À Mon Âme” is the longest song here at 13 minutes. Starting with some mellow, ringing notes and adding distorted guitar, this one takes a little more time to get going than its predecessors. It eventually adopts a slow, steady march as the vocals progress from a whisper to a scream before going back to basics a little more than halfway through, sounding sorta like a Scott Kelly acoustic number in the process. But then another distorted riff comes sneaking in, before the rest of the band comes back and ends things on a heavy note. Notice a trend here?
To wit, curiously titled closer “Nowena I 9.10” also begins in lighter fashion, with the most decipherable vocals found on the record accompanied by a lone guitar. That said, there is virtually no transition as it goes from slow and easy to jarringly, crushingly heavy, more low ‘n slow riffs and high-pitched bellowed vocals, then rumbles along for the duration before fading out.
Overall, this isn’t a bad listen for fans of Neurosis, Zoroaster and the like. That said, I’m not sure this one’s a real winner—especially coming hot on the heels of the former’s latest record.