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Amebix are an interesting band. Formed way back in the days of anarcho punk, when even then they never really fitted in and had a sound that was very much their own. They have been cited as a huge influence to a multitude of big name bands and as being one of the first "crust" bands. So the last release from Amebix was way back in 1987, after which the band split. Reforming in 2008, we've had to wait 3 years for this album and, for many, it has been hugely anticipated. So, was the wait worth it? In the main, you'd have to say yes, this is not a perfect album but it has lots to like and ticks most of the boxes. Starter ‘Days’ sees a more atmospheric side to the band with Rob Millar almost singing and not really hitting the high notes; it's not until two thirds of the way through that the song really takes off though and fulfils its promise. ‘Shield Wall’ is more traditional Amebix fare, although has no vocals as such (just a very faint voiceover). ‘The Messenger; is next, and this song would not have sounded out of place on ‘Arise’ from 1985! Vintage stuff. ‘God of the Grain’ next, a little more up tempo and sounding typically Amebix, although let down by the lack of a great hook.
Reminiscent of Killing Joke in places with Millar sounding like Coleman much of the time. ‘The Vistiation’ follows in the same vein but ends up being a little directionless for me with a rather pointless soundtrack piece at the end. I'm sure there is hidden meaning here, but it's lost on me! ‘Sonic Mass Part 1’ is quite a brave departure from the usual sound with a semi accoustic feel more singing from The Baron. This works pretty well and ends up being quite a thought provoking intro to ‘Sonic Mass Part 2’ which takes us back to more familiar territory with a rolling riff throughout. This is one of the weakest tracks on the album for me and is quickly skipped to bring you to ‘Here Come The Wolf’ which more than makes up for it with a cracking hook and great use of bridges to put a complete song together. This will no doubt be stonking live. ‘The One’ is standard fare with driving drums and, once again, good hooks and even some rolling bass drums (showing off new drummer Roy Mayorgas’ not inconsiderable skills). Closer ‘Knights of the Black Sun’ was released as a single a little while before the album and is definitely a slight change in direction from the Amebix of old. Not unwelcome though and still without doubt Amebix. A good solid song although the vocals sound a little strained to me; I prefer the pieces where Millar cuts loose rather than holding back to keep pitch personally. I'm sure most of the songs here will grow on me and become as much Amebix classics as ‘Axeman’ and ‘Winter’ and all the other oldies, I just need some time for them to get under the skin!!
Easy Action
Review by Graham Hilling
26th Sept 2011
1) Days
2) Shield Wall
3) The Messenger
4) God of the Grain
5) Visitation
6) Sonic Mass Part 1
7) Sonic Mass Part 2
8) Here Come the Wolf
9) The One
10) Knights of the Black Sun
"...this is not a perfect album but it has lots to like and ticks most of the boxes."