Few bands in our genre garner the level of excitement that an Amenra release creates. The combination of their emotive hardcore background, blackened and tortured aesthetic and exceptionally intense live shows have made for a behemoth of the alternative in the metal world as they return with their seventh studio full length De Doorn.
This is the first of those releases sung and spoken entirely in frontman Colin H van Eeckhout’s first language of Flemish with additional vocals provided by Caro Tanghe of compatriots and Church of Ra kinfolk Oathbreaker. There are times that the vocal interplay between Tanghe and van Eeckhout is remarkable and elevates this record to heights that Amenra have not previously reached.
De Doorn is a record from the flames of special one-off live performances the band have played in recent years. Album closer Voor Immer (For Ever) was written for and first played at Dixmude, West Flanders in a concert to memorialise and honour the people of the region that suffered incredibly throughout World War 1, while other tracks were written for the De Kroone fire ritual performed at Menen in October 2019.
The tremendous Het Gloren mines a quiet/loud dynamic that Amenra have long found fertile ground, harking slightly back to 2012s Mass V, but with a far more ambitious scope. Whereas build led to release on that record, in this case the crash of Amenra’s signature lurching heaviness only warns of a descent back to the sparseness and stark emotional exposure of van Eeckhout’s spoken word.
It’s now beyond time for Amenra to be seen as equals, rather than upstarts amongst such vaunted company…
With long sections of only acoustic, bass and guitar accompaniment, this is another incredible triumph for a man who now sets the standard for both live and recorded vocal performances. On previous recordings such as A Solitary Reign and Aorte. Nous Sommes Du Même Sang this potential was clear but De Doorn is an incredible realisation of his talent. For further evidence of van Eeckhout’s skills see Amenra’s acoustic performance at 2021s streamed Dunk! Festival, hopefully available again through Dunk! soon.
Those wishing for a return to the heavy post-metal of the earlier years will certainly find sections of this record that sate them, the opening riff of De Evenmens, the slow chug of Ogentrost and the conclusion of Het Gloren create involuntary head nodding and foot tapping and there are many other moments that recall a different, more frenetic Amenra. But that is clearly a band that now lives in the past, admittedly a glorious past as anyone at the absurdly relentless and energetic 2013 London Garage show can attest to.
This iteration is a band that have learnt from their influences and tour buddies, such as on the Neurosis and Converge 2018 US tour. It’s now beyond time for Amenra to be seen as equals, rather than upstarts amongst such vaunted company.
Scribed by: Ian M