Amebix have been away for twenty years plus, and if you're expecting Arise or Monolith v2.0 then look away now. Because Sonic Mass is so much more than those classic records, and all the better for the band's time spent away from the music scene. In a recent interview we did with vocalist Rob "The Baron" Miller, he explained how he removed himself completely from musical influence so what you hear on Sonic Mass is pure Amebix, it's an album they've always had in them and only now has that expression been able to see the light of day.
"These days will never come again" is proclaimed in opening track "Days." A warning for the following nine songs and for listeners who are expecting something more akin to the crust-punk wave Amebix started. It's time to realise that this band have grown into something more all-encompassing than that. Sonic Mass is a heavy metal record, a record steeped in lore yet somehow still of the here and now. Upon first listen I must admit, I wasn't convinced. Perhaps I wasn't in the right frame of mind for it? The second time through though, everything seemed to click into place. Don't you love it when that happens?
Lyrically, this is the most rounded record the group have put out. Themes and ideas becoming fully realised. It's something the band have always been capable of, yet they disappeared for many a year. Whilst some have been inclined to call Sonic Mass a comeback record, for the fans at least, Amebix have never been away. Drafting in drummer Roy Mayorga (Stone Sour, Nausea) for some truly stunning work, Amebix have created something genuinely jaw-dropping in places. Stig Miller's guitar has never sounded better. All fat riffs or delicately plucked acoustic lines. It's a contrast felt across the whole record. Softly spoken passages sitting in the same tracks as the more visceral vocal creations, or across the two parts of the title track(s) - "Sonic Mass Pt.1" and "Pt.2."
Lead single "Knights Of The Black Sun" closes the album - a beautifully soaring track. Beginning with an undercurrent of feedback, gently struck guitar notes and a pounding drum beat, it soon crashes into the behemoth the song becomes, "The Baron" seemingly calling to the congregation "You were always free." It's joyous and uplifting and the perfect ending to this record.
Sonic Mass delivers a sermon on today's world, and where we stand in it. It talks of the past and looks towards the future. These days may never come again, but we can only hope that Amebix will stand with us in the struggle.
8.7 / 10
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