Thursday, September 22, 2011

Amebix - "Sonic Mass" (2011) [Easy Action Records]

I know it's probably very damaging to my ethos when I say this, but I didn't get into Amebix until very recently. I knew exactly what they had done and respected the band immensely for their addition to the music world, but for some strange reason I just couldn't get into the monolithic Arise! and the aptly named Monolith. I'm not sure why, but the music never really clicked the way that other bands do until the very recent months. I know what you're thinking, and yeah, I'm just some kid who just got into Amebix and, no, my opinion probably doesn't hold any water compared to someone who's been into the band since '79 and has a Zygote tattoo on their left ass cheek, but hear me out.

I like this album. Quite a bit, actually. Of course, that isn't the case with everyone out there. With every great comeback comes a great schism within the band's diehard fans and, as expected, the internet is flooded with people either calling Sonic Mass either a) one of the worst albums ever or b) one of the greatest triumphs music has ever seen. I, however, fall somewhere in the middle, leaning a bit towards the second option, but without as much vigor. What people fail to remember is, after being broken up for a long time and releasing an EP of slightly tweaked re-recordings, it was sort of expected that Amebix would change...evolve. Remember when I talked about evolution being a good thing before? Change isn't always a horrible thing, no matter how conservative you might be about your punk. Remember when John Lydon dropped his "Johnny Rotten" persona and joined Public Image, Ltd., and then a handful of other '77 punks started to join him, ultimately causing a sort of rise in post-punk? Sonic Mass is Amebix showing up fashionably late to the party, but with enough energy to keep it going well into the night.

Anyway, enough about silly fans and angry punks, let's talk about the actual music. The title Sonic Mass might allude to a sort of congregation of music, but I interpret it as a sense of volume, as this album is absolutely gigantic. What we have here is a magnificent melding of Amebix's hybrid punk/metal roots with Killing Joke-styled post-punk (I seem to be dropping that name all the time nowadays) and a pension for atmosphere that brings Neurosis to mind. With the addition of ex-Sepultura drummer Roy Mayorga to the ranks, we definitely see an expansion in instrumentation, including mandolin, piano and keyboard, all used to their fullest potential while only adding, never detracting, from the atmosphere and remaining tastefully melodic. Within 43 minutes you will be taken through powerful ballads, neck-breakingly heavy metal, anthemic punk, and a surprisingly beautiful folk tune. Everything fits together like pieces to a puzzle, with each song fading into one another and picking up right where the last left off. Two decades of silence and two years of intense writing have paid off.

Amebix has grown up, and the outcome comes in the form of a powerful, memorable album. There really wasn't any avoiding the whole "angry factions of crust punks" phenomena, but, who knows? Maybe they jumped the gun on this one. This is Amebix's logical progression into post-punk, and it is absolutely devastating. It's actually available... right now. Believe the hype.

The titans are back. Amebix has risen.


1 comment:

  1. "ex-Sepultura drummer Roy Mayorga" He only did a tour with them in 2006, never recorded anything. I guess he's best known for his work with Soulfly and Stone Sour.

    Good review, though!


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