Review by Stephen Samara-Wickrama
If I were to say that I could write an unbiased and objective review of THE AMENTA's first album in eight years, I would be lying through gritted teeth. I've been a fan of their particular brand of industrialised extreme metal for sixteen years, which for this reviewer is almost exactly half a lifetime. I've seen them live five times, I've hung out with members of the band and I've screamed the lyrics to songs like Erebus, Vermin and Junky more times than I could ever hope to count. However, rather than gushing about the new kind of beast that Revelator is I will attempt to give as objective a review as I can...which is, to say, probably not at all objective.
Unlike their prior trilogy of albums where noise-scapes and outright musical extremity created a very tight, uniform atmosphere, Revelator organically creates huge sonic spaces through superb song writing - then subsequently fills them with a less dissonant and more coherent form of noise. Not only is there a tighter focus on melody and groove in the riffs, vocalist Cain Cressall has elevated himself above almost every other extreme metal vocalist - combining his sharp shrieks and powerful screams with haunting passages of clean singing that perfectly serve the more organic nature of the songwriting on Revelator. Bassist Dan Quinlan is given more prominence in the mix, fuelling new layers of rhythm and depth that confer extra weight to the always-excellent skinwork from Dave Haley.
Above all, Revelator sounds like an AMENTA album while still being a wholly innovative artistic venture. Even when the pounding drums and the pummeling riffs subside and give way to acoustic passages (the outro of An Epoch Elipsis) and songs (Silent Twin), it is still without a shadow of a doubt The Amenta creating those sounds. It truly seems like every potential is fulfilled here, every boundary pushed and every element given room to grow and form anew.
On tracks like Psoriastasis and “Overpast it becomes apparent that the song structures traditionally employed on previous albums by The Amenta have been subverted and in parts replaced with this familiar yet wholly experimental new sound. On Overpast that moment comes halfway through the song when the riffs become equally as percussive as the drumming. There's a comparison to be made between that passage and Mick Gordon's work on the Doom Eternal soundtrack, though that comparison is almost purely coincidental.
Lyrically, Revelator makes a bold step away from the luridly antisocial commentary present on previous albums, and towards a more ambiguous message. Cunning wordplay is front and centre in each song, never muddying the listener's own interpretation of the lyrics while simultaneously driving home profound-if-pessimistic truths about the present day. While Revelator was written over the past eight years it feels particularly apposite to 2020 and early 2021, where rioting crowds clambered and we witnessed the seemingly final successions of certain untied states. The ambiguity in the delivery of these words makes them timeless in a way that other bands commenting on the perils of modern times simply cannot achieve.
The truly stand-out track of the album is unquestionably Twined Towers” an eight-minute epic infused with an unsettling atmosphere and an unpredictably emotional kind of energy. It's almost difficult to write about Twined Towers because of how much of a linchpin it is to the album – perfectly placed in the middle of four songs on either side, it fluctuates between full-on sonic attack and a haunting, mid-tempo extreme metal ballad as if individually highlighting the distinctive ends of the spectrum of sound showcased as a cohesive whole across the other eight tracks.
Parse Over, the album's closing tune, takes a truly surprising turn a minute in – the guitars start to smoulder and brood, incorporating elements of doom metal while Cain employs his cleanest vocals yet to whisper and soar over the darkness. The furious attack begins again, and again it gives way to the slow, methodical pounding that drives Revelator to its' conclusion.
In fulfilling so much of their potential as a band and as artists, The Amenta have done what few metal bands have done – fundamentally reinvent themselves while staying true to the core of their music. The timing of the release of the three singles (Sere Money, An Epoch Ellipsis and Parasight Lost) with two accompanying music videos and a truly unique social media marketing campaign raised the hype for Revelator to incredible levels, and for good reason – the album delivers on its promises so completely that it puts other records to shame. This is undoubtedly The Amenta's Magnum Opus, and a bold challenge to every other extreme metal band to explore new sonic territories and continue to grow as artists. What lies in the future of the band remains to be seen, but there is clearly still ground to break and experiments in metal and noise to undertake.