Thursday, September 22, 2011
Amebix - "Sonic Mass" (2011) [Easy Action Records]
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.