Amenra & Boris – Thekla, Bristol, UK
February 14th 2018
The pairing of Belgian post-metal masters Amenra and experimental Japanese noise-makers Boris on this co-headlong European tour of which the setting of the Thekla in Bristol was the first date was always going to be a dream match for music lovers who revel in the beauty of noise, both bands ability to manipulate that into something beautiful and mystifying was an event that was not to be missed, especially if you were a diehard fan and the packed audience here tonight certainly witnessed something that can only be described as awe inspiring. There may have been some attendees who had come just for Boris or just for Amenra, and if there were, both would have discovered the parallels and similarities that both bands have and the musical kinship that they share. The main thing is that they are both cut from the same sonic cloth and both delivered a masterclass in glorious discordance.
After the doors opened, a short but captivating opening set by cellist Jo Quail started the evening off in a quieter way than what was to follow but one that had a sense of atmosphere nonetheless and it certainly demanded the audiences attention. Quails’ stirring renditions of tracks like White Salt Stag were well received and set the scene for the rest of the night.
After a short while and with the stage bathed in darkness and smoke, Boris appear to a heroes’ welcome from the Bristol audience, with a huge gong behind Atsuo the main focal point, and as the drummer/vocalist takes to his kit with guitarist/vocalist Wata and bassist/vocalist Takeshi either side of the stage, hiding in the shadows, the magnificence of Boris in full effect hits you with force from the very first strains of opening number D.O.W.N – Domination Of Waiting Noise from their latest album Dear and this was certainly an apt number to start the set off with.
The bands set is a cacophony of glorious sound, with Boris on extraordinary form (when they tear through Dystopia – Vanishing Point in particular, the effect is truly devastating) and was a great opportunity to see and hear their latest opus played in full, and with Dear being possibly their heaviest offering yet, it was certainly a treat to witness it in a live setting with the breathtaking Absoluetgo and the closing drone of the albums title track being standout moments from an amazing set. As Atsuo pounds both the drums and the gong throughout, the effect is nothing but mesmerizing and with the other two members nestled in the wings, almost hidden in sight but the noise that they bring is what everyone in attendance here is concentrating on and what a noise it was, and as the band leave the stage to rapturous applause, they know they have conquered Bristol with ease tonight.
It is with great anticipation that Amenra appear onstage (this being the first date of their very first full U.K. tour) but they do so with no fanfare or acknowledgment and as the striking visuals that play behind the band kick in and they launch straight into the impassioned and chilling Boden, the audience is enthralled from the get go at the power the band posses.
It is a power that doesn’t let up for the duration of the set and as Amenra charge through highlights from their deservedly highly regarded latest album Mass VI, like Plus Pres De Toi and the closing Diaken and older material such as the truly formidable Razoreater, it is simply breathtaking. Vocalist Colin H Van Eekhout howls the bands lyrics with so much passion as the rest of the band provide an apt and ominous soundscape while images both harrowing and beautiful play behind them and those visuals add an extra layer to the bands performance (especially as they tear through Razoreater with images of burning flames, the effect is unreal).
The audience stands and takes it all in, utterly hypnotized by what they are witnessing and only stopping to roar their approval and pick their jaws up from the floor.
Amenra in the live environment are untouchable, the whole set is more like a totally immersive experience rather than a mere gig and the cathartic nature of both the bands music and the power of their playing is sublime. At times it is harrowing, but this harrowing nature sits comfortably beside the allure of sublimity resulting in a truly awesome performance and as they depart from the stage, the crowd begins to make sense of what has just taken them over. A truly incredible experience and one that will live on long in the memory of everyone who was there tonight, the true power of music, sound, noise and life is embodied in Amenra and the Church Of Ra and the Bristol crowd was lucky to immerse themselves in it tonight.
A stunning end to a truly memorable evening and one that demonstrated the power of music in its most devastating and sublime form.