Amenra

Amenra is a Belgian atmospheric sludge/post-metal/post-hardcore band from Kortrijk, Belgium, formed in 1999. The band was founded by vocalist Colin H. van Eeckhout and lead guitarist Mathieu van de Kerckhove. The two had been in the band Spineless and wanted to create music with more "heart and soul". Their name connects the biblical amen with the Egyptian god Ra. They are known for a brooding and unique sound as well as intense live performances. Colin is noted for exclusively singing his vocals with his back turned towards the audience, something he says is to deflect attention from himself and allow spectators to focus more on the rest of the band. He often also gets himself suspended with hooks attached to his back during live performances done as some sort of cleansing ritual.

The group began releasing their dark Mass albums in 2003 and have been experimenting with both sound and live shows ever since. In 2013, the ensemble joined Neurot Records to release their fifth full-length album. The label was founded by Neurosis; a band that has been influential in Amenra's style and career.

Their origins were tied to traditional sludge with hardcore elements and shorter songs. They began incorporating post-metallisms into their overall sound with the release of Mass II, the first songs displaying this change of direction being 'From Birth to Grave. From Shadow to Light' and 'Ritual'. By the release of Mass III, they had completely embraced this new sound and composed longer songs.

Their 2021 record 'De Doorn', saw them temporarily interrupting their string of Mass albums because they felt this new record was not in line with what the Masses sound like and represent, De Doorn is different from those, yet still very Amenra-like. This is in part due to second guitarist Lennart's more active contribution to the writing process, something of which he had not done much in the past for some reason. He was feeling very distraught and affected due to Oathbreaker's hiatus (a band where he is the primary composer) so the rest of his Amenra mates wanted him to channel all those dark feelings into an album, an experiment that proved successful. This record itself is also different because it was exclusively composed for a string of special live performances and was only going to be a one-off affair, not an actual Amenra record; however, it turned out to be so good to them, that it eventually became their new record. The final and more distinctive aspect of the record is that it is their first sung entirely in Flemish, their native tongue, which very much fits their music. It was their Relapse Records debut since leaving Neurot Recordings.

Recurring themes in Amenra's music are the duality of birth and death, light and darkness, and pain and sacrifice. The band uses psychological and religious motives. Though calling himself agnostic, Van Eeckhout acknowledges the presence of spirituality and religion in the band's work. Amenra often collaborates with visual artists and choreographers, including Willy Vanderperre and Berlinde de Bruyckere.

Colin's clean vocals approach is very much inspired by the one and only Maynard James Keenan from Tool, something Amenra themselves do not try to deny as they have openly covered Tool song(s), specifically on their live acoustic album. Lead guitarist Mathieu is a self-taught musician and as such, many of Amenra's signature riffing and guitar techniques were devised by him alone, he had to figure them out on his own. Additionally, since Oathbreaker is on indefinite hiatus; their vocalist Caro Tanghe and Lennart's collegue, joined Amenra's roster in 2021 as a second vocalist, something that added a new dimension to Amenra's unique sound. She has collaborated with Amenra in the past so her addition was not that unexpected or out of place/nowhere.

Their style encompasses many aspects of post and non-post-influences and even though their music is not pioneering anything or creating new genres; it's still rather unique and uncomparable, proving to be very influential in the atmospheric and post-scenes, with even some 'copycats' springing around. They have a penchant for quiet clean guitar melodies passages wherein Colin's clean vocals are featured very prominently; sometimes singing, sometimes whispering intertwined with emotional and colossally heavy riffing sections wherein Colin screams at the top of his lungs using a quasi screamo-esque shriek that sounds very desperate and pained in nature. Their riffing style is comprised of semi-melodic sludge patterns, memorable and crushing in nature, very distinct and punctuated by Mathieu's own style.

Members:

Colin H. van Eeckhout (Kingdom) - vocals;
Mathieu J. Vandekerckhove (Kingdom) - guitar;
Lennart Bossu (Living Gate, Oathbreaker) - guitar;
Tim De Gieter (Doodseskader) - bass;
Bjorn J. Lebon - drums;
Caro Tanghe (Oathbreaker) - Vocals.

Former members:

Vincent F. Tetaert - guitar;
Kristof J. Mondy (RDS 220) - bass;
Maarten Kinet - bass;
Levy Seynaeve (Living Gate, Wiegedood) - bass.

Official Site
Bandcamp

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