After destroying several stages while opening for Neurosis and Converge, this trilingual Belgian sludge squad have graced us with their sixth album. If you didn’t show up early enough to see Amenra‘s live set, this is what you missed.
Mass VI offers up six new songs spanning just under 41 minutes, although two tracks are just short interludes. “Children of the Eye” starts off slow and sparse, in pure progressive post-sludge fashion, with one repetitive guitar riff building for two minutes before the rest of the band comes in with vigour and vitriol. Fans of Neurosis won’t be disappointed. There is a lighter, airier section past the five-minute mark, which introduces some female vocals to the mix. These were not part of their live show. But the slow ‘n heavy sludge returns just shy of the seven-minute mark.
After a Flemish spoken-word interlude, “Plus près de toi” comes in heavy with swirling riffs and a pounding backbeat. Presumably, the lyrics are in French, but the leather-lunged sludge vocals are completely indecipherable. This one also contains some extended slow, instrumental passages, dropping down to a single melodic guitar line somewhere around the 3:40 mark, as the vocals go from a scream to a whisper. (I can confirm that they are singing in French here.) After some sad, longing lyrics, the heavy riff that kicks in past the 6:30 mark hits like a ton of bricks.
They switch back to English on “A Solitary Plan,” which opens with melodic, clean singing. This one takes a lighter tone than its predecessors, with the harsh screams coming in from the background. The winding riffs still fit into a post-sludge context, but they aren’t quite as punishing as the previous tunes. “Daikon” also starts off on a mellower note, softly rumbling along for a couple minutes, before a bass-heavy verse comes in, somewhat reminiscent of Sleep or early OM—except in the vocal department—with a little Neurosis thrown in for good measure and another whispery section around the seven-minute mark. This 11-minute number ends the album on an epic note.