Amenra: Alive album review

Belgian post-metallers go acoustic, with mixed results.

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If you like your prog buoyant, busy and brimming with major-key majesty, then turn away now. But if you like your music darkly atmospheric and earthily rudimental, keep reading. Belgian septet Amenra are best known for their swaying, doomy post-metal crunch, but it seems they are becoming more open to peeling back the layers and revealing an aching vulnerability. Alive was recorded live in 2014 as the group reimagined their songs acoustically, but MTV Unplugged this ain’t.

The album is, at times, a tough and dreary listen, with Amenra still keen to pursue their cataclysmic tendencies. Look beyond the haunting bleakness, however, and there’s plenty to intrigue. There’s an unexpected warmth beneath the dirt: Wear My Crown and The Longest Night are deep, emotive listens. If Buiten Datum regurgitates the same guitar motif for a whole seven minutes, there’s still the oddly cosy cover of Tool’s Parabol, or the throbbing Aorte. Nous Sommes Du Même Sang. If you encapsulate your lugholes with headphones, dim the lights and open up your mind, then Alive could be truly vital listening. If you don’t, you might not even make it to the end without nodding off.