2021 is proving to be a good year for the industrial metal heroes who spearheaded its more extreme variants at the beginning of this century. Aborym released a magnificent record in February and Ewigkeit are better than ever with their latest Depopulate EP. Now Australian noise purveyors, The Amenta, are back after an eight-year hiatus and are keen to pick up from the same dystopian soundscape they created in 2004 as winners of Kerrang’s ‘Best Metal Newcomer’ award.
Revelator is as hostile and misanthropic as you’d expect from a band that give Anaal Nathrakh a run for their money in the extreme stakes. Yet the dissonant death metal of Ulcerate and cold resonance of Schammasch is never far away, nor is the impeding sense of societal collapse they capture with such poignancy in their music. Those concerned the band might struggle to retain their quintessential intensity need not worry after two minutes of ‘An Epoch Ellipsis’. Your ears will prick up at the violent plucking of the guitar strings in a frenzy of death metal palm-mutes. The precise double-kick drums and mechanistic ambience are just as powerful in their assault. And let’s not forget the manic fry screams of Cain Cressall. These could provoke a noise protection order from the most seasoned of Neurosis sound technicians.
The righteous rage of ‘Sere Money’ will remind you of the mood on Celtic Frost’s Monotheist album from 2006 but will surprise you with the dirty industrial groove and raw guitar menace of Brooklyn black metallers, Tombs. By track three we already know the band have one aim, and that is to ensure no two songs sound the same. ‘Silent Twin’ builds on an enchanting acoustic guitar straight from Queensryche’s most intimate moments but douses the sparkle with a puff of sinister vocals. Imagine if Cult of Lilith embraced a Tom Waits direction. It paves the way for the dissonant Morbid Angel attack of ‘Psoriastasis’, yet the band surprise once more with the dark atmospheric brooding of ‘Twined Towers’ to keep you second guessing. No album ever failed for distinguishing between songs in the most conscious way, and Revelator does not break the trend or confuse the listener. The one ambient interlude on the record – the captivating ‘Wonderlost’ – conjures the sordid brutality of a Japanese psychological horror film and torments us with eerie violin bows.
Just as interesting are the lyrics. These are abstract and misanthropic, full of allegorical references to modern civilisation’s hubris and self-deceit (“Torn by torment and tumbled to terra/ Fall fell, fell foul/ Back in chaos like a divining bell.”) You could argue The Amenta have as much in common with the despair of post-punk’s darkest moments as much as death metal’s vicious contours. It sure ain’t party music.
Only on ‘Parasight Lost’ do they threaten to fall into their own abyss. Why they hint at a fadeout at the four-minute mark and then continue for another one minute and thirty seconds is a mystery, but the claustrophobic Godflesh intro is more than enough to keep things interesting. They flirt with the post-metal sophistication of The Ocean on closing track, ‘Parse Over’, and converge on a countertenor and baritone harmony at the end after five minutes of grinding bass. It’s bleak but angry at the same time, like a soldier forced to serve in the field with influenza debilitating his every step and threatening to break his morale.
In all honesty, it’ll be a dark experience if you spend the last few weeks of lockdown with this in your stereo, but it won’t be dull. The Amenta explode with enough anger and demented rage to keep you engaged with the world, despite its shortcomings. See if you can maintain your civilised exterior after the last note rings out on Revelator and the room returns to silence.
Release Date: 19/02/2021
Record Label: Debemur Morti Productions
Standout tracks: An Epoch Ellipsis, Sere Money, Parse Over
Suggested Further Listening: Aborym – Dirty (2013), Anaal Nathrakh – The Whole of the Law (2016), Schammasch – Hearts of No Light (2019)