Monday, September 16, 2024

Amenra Primitive Man, Blackwater Holylight

Doors | 7:00 pm // Show | 8:00 pm


Amenra Bio

Amenra emerged in 1999 from the then booming Flemish straight edge hardcore movement. Musically and thematically, however, the band takes a different approach than most of the scene and produces something that can be described as ‘post metal’: a style that finds its roots in heavy metal, but in terms of approach is not limited to the conventions of the genre and allows much more experimentation. This manifests itself, among other things, in longer songs with more loose and layered song structures in which repeated themes and crescendos occur rather than the typical “verse-chorus” form. The emphasis is placed more on atmosphere and emotion than on technical skillfulness.

As is the case with many artists, the band’s early years are primarily a search for themselves. The first LP’s Mass I (2003) and Mass II (2005) offer only a glimpse of what is yet to come. On Mass III (2005), the band truly finds its own sound and face, and that translates into a clearly increasing interest from the audience. With Mass IIII (2008), Amenra takes another further step toward becoming a more dynamic band that not only hits the audience with heavy distorted riffs, but also offers relief with clean, healing parts. With the EP Afterlife (2009), that healing side of Amenra is further explored with a number of austerely dressed, minimalist acoustic songs that fit completely within the band’s sound aesthetic. For the next two albums, Mass V (2012) and Mass VI (2017), the band partnered up with American producer Billy Anderson (Swans, Sleep, Neurosis), who takes Amenra’s sound to a new level.

The band has toured Europe, the United States and Russia several times over the past 20 years and is among the absolute top European bands in its niche, but is now reaching a much wider audience than just die-hard metal fans.

An Amenra concert is often described as a menacing total experience (after all, visual projections are invariably used as well) that grabs you by the throat, bewilders, but above all enlightens and liberates. The band brings equal amounts of intensity in front of their usual wall of amplifiers as in an intimate, acoustic setting. That overall experience cannot only be felt live, as their videos, artwork and all things Amenra are invariably enhanced by a powerful and recognizable aesthetic and visual framework.

This visual language emerged from collaborations with artists from their own art collective, the ‘Church of Ra’, but also with prominent Belgian artists such as Berlinde De Bruyckere, Michaël Borremans or Willy Vanderperre. Amenra has thus become much more than just that intense live band: they have developed a network in which, together with like-minded visual artists, they provide a reinforcing aesthetic layer.

Since the release of Mass VI, they have not only toured extensively in Europe, the United States, Central and South America, Oceania and Japan, the band has also plunged into a number of unique projects that bring together various artistic disciplines, providing the audience with a more unique experience than a typical concert visit.

Some examples of this are the GoneWest project to commemorate World War I, where Amenra performed a “gesamtkunstwerk” with video and live Butoh dance by Imre Thormann in the Belgian town of Diksmuide and proved to be the perfect band to darkness into light to celebrate the future and celebrate peace.

Another project that demonstrates the interdisciplinary collaborations Amenra is venturing into is AMEN & BEYOND. For this, the Vooruit Arts Center of the Belgian city Ghent has invited Barbara Raes of Beyond the Spoken (a workshop for unrecognized loss) and Colin H. Van Eeckhout, singer of Amenra, as guest curators. The culmination of this programme was a fire ritual for the unrecognized loss of the inhabitants of Ghent. While the band performed specially written material for the occasion, Indonesian artist Toni Kanwa Adikusumah lead an incineration ceremony in which attendees could experience their individual grief collectively, partially dissolving it into a sense of belonging.

The music written for these diverse occasions lead to the release of Amenra’s latest album De Doorn (2021) on Relapse Records, and has sparked recognition for the band, both in its home country with performances at Rock Werchter, Belgium’s biggest music festival, and several sold-out shows at the legendary Ancienne Belgique venue in Brussels, as abroad, with more European and US tours to follow.