A splendid start of the year, indeed. Literally months of anticipation has led to the Amenra-hosted short festival at the Doornroosje in Nijmegen. Sadly I had only the pleasure and time to witness two of their special guests in the evening at the non-acoustic show. VVOVNDS and Aluk Todolo. Which I am going to elaborate on a bit further.
Upon my arrival at the venue I already started to feel a bit of a vibe. I was all by myself because none of my friends like Amenra or music related in any form or way to Amenra. That didn’t really have any impact on my experience during the shows because I was to busy being in my own world.
First up was VVOVNDS or easily pronounced as WOUNDS. A stage dark as mud is where the young but thriving musicians opened up their personal abyss. For those who didn’t know, VVOVNDS has previously released a split EP with Amenra and are closely related to the Church Of RA. When I saw the band members walking on stage there was just one thing I continually noticed, they were all about the same age as I am and they were angry and lustful young, wild dogs. The music VVOVNDS conjured up was a mix of ambient, creepy sounds and a blend of the most dark form of hardcore I have ever heard. It wasn’t very impressive for me until the singer stepped away from the keyboard and opened his fucking pie hole. The guy was genuinely angry, as it seemed. He was screaming relentlessly and hopeless into the crowd but it feels to me that he was unheard. Like a voice talking to a wall. Screaming into the mass of people to face his own demons I think. All speculations aside, it was an incredible show with a great performance by the vocalist. I believed every word he uttered into the microphone.
After a smoke break and a bit of mental rest (?) Aluk Todolo was up next. A French band which I had never heard of before and I think for good reason. First and foremost I want to express my opinion in this review and I do not want to bash the band. Very softly spoken… this was not my cup of tea. I wish there was a rhythm to hold on to or to let yourself go to. There definitely was not. For the time they performed I have been waiting for a logical conclusion to a wall of noise. I could not make anything of it.
I’m sure they are all very skilled musicians but I just think I wasn’t ready. It made me feel paranoid and with a great restlessness I watched Aluk Todolo’s performance. I must say though, I found the light bulb in the centre of the stage a very interesting object. It seemed to get brighter while the music progressed. That was a nice touch to their show that made it less boring for me and gave me an impression of what to look for in their style of music. Just to repeat myself, I was not ready for this.
At last… the headliner of the show was ready to show their true electric form. It was 21:45, the lights were dimmed low and Amenra’s famous tripod appeared on the screen with ambient noises for 15 minutes exactly before the show started. After those 15 minutes a hooded figure (CHVE) entered the stage with two metal bars. Kneeled on the ground and started rhythmically clanging it to each other. We all knew what was coming. Amenra had started playing Boden from their 2012 full length (Mass V). After the ticking intro that had me hypnotized to the fullest a force was unleashed. The sludge chords hit me at full blast and almost knocked me right off my feet.
Soon after I had my eyes closed and was bobbing my head relentlessly to the abysmal drumbeats and ripping riffs.
With a great set list with a lot of fan-favourites it was time to close the set list with Diaken. My personal favourite from their latest LP (Mass VI), a perfect closure to an almost religious experience (mind you, almost). I left Nijmegen with a weight lifted from my shoulders. I do not know exactly why but Amenra had a huge impact on my mind since I discovered them by accident on YouTube. The way they express their feelings on the stage and the very reason they create the slabs of huge musical expression is because of pain in their lives. Which left me thinking, why doesn’t everyone do this? Find yourself a catharsis to relieve yourself of inner pain.
I can assure you, seeing Amenra live is an experience unmatched by any of their peers.
On a side note I have a complaint. Not to the band but to the crowd. There were some people in the building that clearly don’t know of the origin of this kind of music. When it is a little more quiet or peaceful at a show of this platform. Please don’t go yelling stupid things. You just make yourself look like an ignorant moron. It doesn’t benefit the show in any way. So please, try and contain yourself next time and respect the musicians on stage.