Text & Photos by Charles Nickles
I can’t remember what I was going to do today. I think maybe I was gonna see a movie, pan fry some hot dogs, jerk off. I mean, it used to be that the 4th of July was my fucking JAM! We had a grill and a smoker and an alley backyard and year after year folks would come and debauch and it was always shambolic and wonderful (no Noah’s Ark party but we did what we could with what we had) and only once in the many years we made a mess of Ditmars did someone have to go to the hospital.
He was a lawyer.
We don’t talk much anymore.
Point is the 4th of July isn’t a big shindig holiday for me anymore. I like beef, I love beer and all those pretty explosions sure are rad except they make my dogs catatonic with fear so I guess, on paper, I’m a little conflicted on fireworks but in practice big, bright booms are just dreamy.
And then there’s the whole whattheeverlovingfuckingshit with America these days that I really don’t feel like getting into because – though I do have some thoughts on that – when I woke up this morning I got word that Amenra was fucking on.
So we’ll just have to discuss the cynical bends of an adolescent nation some other day.
Or is it Sunrot?
Is this the same band I saw open for Listener and Birds in Row way back in the waning days of Don Pedro’s? Man, what was a weird bill but it seems like it might be.
Dreaded howl and skull-crack effects. Sludging trudgens and amplifier worship.
This is definitely the same band but they’ve risen confidently in the few years I’ve missed them to better articulate the wounded behemoth as punk rock, post-pleasure metal meat mechanism and, evidently, they rule hard enough that more than a few folks came to this gig sporting their t-shirts which should be totally taboo unless you’re seeing SLAAAAYYEERRR!!! but whatever with that, I guess because when the gruel’s this furiously detuned and the singer’s so confident in her (one presumes) attack on the audience who wouldn’t so flagrantly share their allegiance?
Waiting for Amenra to play I get the feeling that I’m in trouble, that I have no idea what in the fuck I have gotten myself into and said ignorance might actually get me killed. The stage seems pretty barren but the bodies are goddamn packied in with a decidedly off-putting lockjaw tremble. If this were some other gig (Full of Hell, Pig Destroyer or Dragged Into Sunlight, say), I’d pass the clenched muscles onto bootleg drugs and spot the softest of the pinned acolytes STAT to use as a human shield as I plot my way my out of the snuff den to freedom where my story can at last be told.
But this is different.
This is devotion.
And devotion is scary as fuck.
But then Amenra take the stage and I immediately understand the call to worship.
They are at once beatific and depraved, calling to mind the best and worst of so many bombastic articulations that it feels ugly to even try to codify so let’s just say they have a solid, atmospheric base (a little post-metal, a little neo-folk) on which they build a build a tower of heretic Babel just to ignite the motherfucker with kerosene asps flung from the mouth of Osiris as he lay whole again in his lover’s arms because fuck that noise. God is dead and when he wasn’t he was a prick and the only unified theory of everything is chaos and it is in that anarchy that we find hope, beauty, pain and determination.
The embers of man (as he was clumsy placed) offer his descendants their reason.
We are illuminated by what we have lost.
Defined and inspired by the arrogance of an almighty.
And, being conscious of creation, we become the light as we become the darkness. We embrace entropy over the pedestrian visages of heaven and hell and the casual tumult of eternity.
We choose our own forever.
As some might choose this.
9/07 – Sacramento, CA Holy Diver (No Neurosis)
10/07 – Berkeley, CA The UC Theatre
11/07 – San Francisco, CA Great American Music Hall – SOLD OUT
12/07 – Los Angeles, CA The Fonda Theatre
13/07 – Santa Ana, CA The Observatory
14/07 – San Diego, CA Observatory North Park
16/07 – Phoenix, AZ The Van Buren