Monday, August 19, 2013

The Amenta - Flesh Is Heir

The Amenta
Flesh Is Heir
EVP Recordings/Rocket Distribution

With the release of ‘Occasus’ in 2004, Sydney (New South Wales, Australia) based outfit The Amenta firmly established themselves as a unique outfit within the extreme metal scene, with the band’s take on the industrialised death metal sound pushing beyond what many considered the limits of the said genre. Four years later, The Amenta returned with their second full-length effort ‘nOn’, and once again, the band proved that their forward thinking take on the industrialised death metal sound could be evolved and pushed even further, which in turn had many lauding the band’s achievements in terms of scope, sound and extremity.
Since 2008, the band has been busy in the studio working on new material. But while the band have offered up a selection of bits and pieces to tide fans over (2011’s re-recorded/remixed audio/visual E.P. ‘VO1D’, 2012’s digital E.P. ‘Chokehold’ and this year’s teaser E.P. ‘Teeth’), it’s the new full-length album that fans have been really waiting for with baited breath.
After a lengthy five year wait, ‘Flesh Is Heir’ has finally arrived. And the wait has been worth it.
If there’s one true certainty with The Amenta, it’s that progression is paramount. Much in the same way that the band’s first two releases were very different from one another; ‘Flesh Is Heir’ is another step beyond those two albums. But like everything The Amenta have released in their eleven years together, you can always count on the band’s output pushing the limits of extremities – both in the industrialised influences that make up a large component of the band’s sound, or the death metal premise on which the band’s sound is founded upon.
The Amenta (Who now comprise of vocalist Cain Cressall, guitarist Erik ‘Ethion’ Miehs, bassist Dan Quinlan, sampler/programmer Timothy ‘Chlordane’ Pope and drummer Robin Stone) lead the album with the title track ‘Flesh Is Heir’, which is everything you would expect from the band, but with a distinctly new take on proceedings. Unlike the sound heard on previous album’s, ‘Flesh Is Heir’ sounds cleaner in terms of production, which helps give the song a bit more of an organic sound. Yes, the industrialised sound is still very much present throughout the song, but the instrumental aspects of the guitars, bass and drums seem to transcend the background sound more than ever before, which showcases the complexities of the band’s playing alongside the industrialised effects, rather than be buried beneath it all. Cressall, who is no longer a new member of the group after spending the last three years fronting the band, is a perfect fit with his wide array of vocal personas, while the subtle hint of melody within the song (Something that ‘n0n’ as a whole didn’t offer much of) gives the listener something to latch onto, with lessening the impact of the songs overall extremity.
‘Ego Ergo Sum’ offers up a little more groove than the opener, which when combined with Cressall’s manipulated vocal lines during some of the more atmospheric passages brings to mind French avant-garde outfit Gojira, while ‘Teeth’, the first single to be released from the album, initially comes across as a relentless assault of double kick drumming, fast paced riffing and howling choruses, but has enough atmospheric instrumental passages, tempo changes and diversity from Cressall out front to stand out as a worthy first taste of what The Amenta have to offer up these days.
After the haunting and somewhat creepy instrumental piece ‘A Womb Tone’, the band launch into ‘Obliterate’s Prayer’, which is without a doubt one of the album’s real highlights with Stone’s drumming setting the pace throughout, and Cressall’s theatrical and towering vocals matching the dark and intense nature of the song.
‘Sewer’, much like ‘Ego Ergo Sum’, puts a brake on the speed enough to give the song a little more groove while remaining every bit as ferocious as expected, while ‘The Argument’ combines tribal like drummed verses over demonic atmospheric passages with technically challenging and intensely delivered choruses.
The experimental ‘Cell’ once again sees the band step up the haunting feel of their often cinematic side of sound with the song relying more on programmed sounds and barely audible choral like vocals to carry the dark subject matter alluded to in the lyric content, while ‘Disintergrate’ comes from the complete opposite side of the band’s song writing spectrum with its rather straightforward industrialised death metal framework and the band’s prime objective to crush everything in their path sonically.
After another brief instrumental interlude (The rather odd and hypnotic ‘A Palimpsest’), The Amenta finish up the album with ‘Tabula Rasa’, which is undoubtedly one of the densest tracks featured on the album in terms of layered tracks, and one of the more progressive industrialised death metal sounding tracks on offer from the band this time around. As you would expect, it’s also one of the album’s finer moments as well, and a perfect way to finish off the album.
The Amenta may not be the most prolific of bands in terms of offering up full-length releases, but what they lack in output, they certainly made up for in sheer mind-boggling scope and imagination.
Building upon the sound of ‘Occasus’ and ‘n0n’, The Amenta have once again upped the ante, and delivered another forward thinking release with ‘Flesh Is Heir’.

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© Justin Donnelly

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