How the bleakness of Amenra makes them one of the best live bands on the planet

Amenra performing live
(Image credit: Jake Owens)

Belgium’s masters of grimness Amenra joined forces with the Japanese destroyers Boris for a co-headline tour. We popped along to the London day to see how much harm they could do.

Boris are loud

And we mean really, really loud. Standing at the back of the venue, peering at the sound desk, everything is rammed into the red zone and the floor is physically shaking. Of course, it’s very metal to live by the mantra ‘Everything louder than everything else’ but at times Boris is overwhelming, with many of the audience choosing to seek shelter in the bar area or outside having a cig. As Todd Flanders put it, “Ow, my freakin’ ears!”

(Image credit: Jake Owens)

Boris are an acquired taste

For the uninitiated, there are two versions of Boris. The jingly, spasmodic, indie-esque incarnation and the DOOOOOOOOOM Boris who try to crush, kill, maim and bulldoze through everything. Tonight, we’re met with the latter. Droning, skull-shattering riffs blast out across the room while strained screams underpin the depravity. But it’s not for everyone. Looking around, there’s a mix of stunned and confused faces amongst the devoted masses nodding in unison down front. Not everyone ‘gets’ it, but then again, not everyone is here for Boris…

This is bleak

Bleak in a good way. Amenra are masters of all things post and their emotional destruction drips with agony and suffering. Sure, you can feel the aggression in Colin H Van Eeckhout’s vocals, but this is more than screaming for the sake of it. There’s a palpable pain the music, driving its way into your synapses like a corkscrew, forcing you to take notice and watch as the Belgian hate-mongers exorcise their demons. Overlaid by imagery of barren, frost-bitten landscapes, this isn’t a party, but it’s oddly cathartic.

Jake Owens

Jake Owens (Image credit: Jake Owens)

Amenra are kings of merch

There’s an old adage that says you can’t wear the merch of the band you’re going to see, unless it’s Motörhead or Iron Maiden. Although it looks like nobody told Amenra’s fans. The floor is littered with Church Of Ra apparel, all of it looking gnarly as hell and ridiculously metal. They even sell a branded Amenra balaclava, because nothing says ‘I worship at the altar of heaviness’ than getting on the bus home looking like a burglar.

(Image credit: Jake Owens)

Amenra are one of the best live bands on the planet

There. We said it. Yeah, we know they’re not packing the heat of Rammstein or the pomp of Kiss, but there’s something about Amenra that hits you hard. As Van Eeckhout swerves and dodges his way around the stage, all the while keeping his back to the crowd, screaming until his lungs burst and throat fills with bile, his band stare out into the abyss, punishing those who have gathered with the most draining yet absorbing music ever written. The projections and the sonics meld into one multi-faceted, multi-layered experience, sticking its tar-drenched tendrils into your soul, forcing you to join the nodding horde around you, unable to look away from the desperation onstage. Not somewhere you’d go on a first date, but something everybody needs to witness at least once. Like an eclipse… but somehow darker.

Amenra and Boris 2018 tour dates

Feb 23: Beatpol, Dresden, Germany
Feb 24: Progresja, Warsaw, Poland
Feb 25: Palac Akropolis, Prague, Czech Republic
Feb 26: A38, Budapest, Hungary
Feb 27: Kino Siska, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Feb 28: Locomotiv, Bologna, Italy
Mar 01: Monk, Rome, Italy
Mar 02: Santeria Social Club, Milan, Italy
Mar 03: Jubez, Karlsruhe, Germany
Mar 04: Patronaat, Haarlem, Netherlands

Studio Report: Amenra working on Mass VI

Luke Morton joined Metal Hammer as Online Editor in 2014, having previously worked as News Editor at popular (but now sadly defunct) alternative lifestyle magazine, Front. As well as helming the Metal Hammer website for the four years that followed, Luke also helped relaunch the Metal Hammer podcast in early 2018, producing, scripting and presenting the relaunched show during its early days. He also wrote regular features for the magazine, including a 2018 cover feature for his very favourite band in the world, Slipknot, discussing their turbulent 2008 album, All Hope Is Gone.