Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Alphabetical Discovery - Week A, Day Four: Amebix

If you merged Lemmy's gravel-throated rock'n'roll, Ozzy's doomy midlands drawl, Tom. G. Warrior's oppressive pessimism and Killing Joke's metallic coldness you'd come close to producing the gravel-throated, anarcho-punk vocalist of Amebix: The Baron Rockin Von Aphid (a.k.a 'Rob Miller'). But 'The Baron' is too eccentric and authentic to flatly compare to others. Vocally, Dave Mustaine must have taken inspiration from The Baron; Mustaine's vocal deliveries, such as those semi-spoken worded croaks - as in 'Sweating Bullets' - is a hallmark of Amebix's unstable sound ('Feel a little numb? Feel a little tired?' The Baron croaks in the 'largactyl', the fourth song on Arise!, a song about former drummer Martin's spiral in to a paranoid schizophrenia in 1981).

Amebix - PhotoThought of as one of the pioneers of the Crust style - dirty, bass heavy. shifting tempos, guttural or grunted vocals, dark and pessimistic lyrics centered on social problems and political disenchantment - Amebix are a huge influence on a diverse range of bands. For Bathory and Darkthrone to credit Amebix  is profound; Darkthrone's more recent output has swayed towards the crust-punk atmospheres that Amebix mastered in the 80's with Arise! (1985) and Monolith (1987). 

Amebix's combination of sounds was staggering; our obsession with labeling was, probably for the better, non-existent in the early-days of extreme metal, but in their music is an eclectic mix-up of anarcho-punk, thrash, sludge, doom, heavy-metal, black-metal, industrial and noise. Praise for the band from Sepultura to Neurosis is an indication of the bands diversity. They were a band ahead of their time who embraced the  spectrum of extreme and dark musical genres, combining their sounds with to great effect.

Amebix returned, 24 years after Monolith, in 2011 with the spellbinding Sonic Mass, a much meatier, textured and industrial record that manages to maintain the darkness and angry energy of the earlier albums. It's staggeringly good and as far as comebacks go it's perhaps one of the best. It reminds me a lot of Cetlic Frost's Monotheist; both bands seem to have mastered the art of the oppressive and disconcerting atmosphere.

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