Amenra + Boris // St. Luke’s, Glasgow (UK)
It can be a weirdly disjointing experience to be a long-time Boris devotee. It’s not just the stylistic changes, or the massive rise in stature of the Tokyo trio over the past decade – it’s more their ability to play with myriad forms that can leave you reeling. Taking to the stage, they look like a glam-metal Sunn O))), black-clad yet impeccably poised, but as the guttural rumble of “D.O.W.N. – Domination of Waiting Noise” rolls into view, it feels like a wormhole has opened up to 1998.
This is Boris in full-on sludge mode, operating at the peak of their subsonic-tectonic abilities, and it’s as beautifully immersive as it is a resounding smash to the temples. Takeshi is a solid contributor to their low-end prowess, but it’s Atsuo and Wata who capture the room – the former for his wild showboating and all-out metalness, and the latter for being the most effortlessly cool guitarist in metal. She’s a master of deadpan expressionism, letting her fingers do the work of a hundred voices, and with her steering their way through one of their most profound releases to date, the effect is staggering.
It’s clear that it’s Boris’ Belgian tourmates who are tonight’s main draw, though, and from Boden’s opening steely clangs through to the final eruption of “Diaken”, AMENRA do not disappoint. There’s something terrifying and wondrous about seeing this band in full flow, a sense of complete abandonment to art that can’t help but draw in everyone around it. “Plus Près De Toi” demonstrates not only their ability to turn a horrendous deluge of sludge into something emotionally resonant but also gives Colin H. van Eeckhout the opportunity to show that there’s more to his voice than just paint-stripping ferocity.
The ideas of ‘mass’ and ‘ritual’ are always tied into music of this calibre and form, but AMENRA transcend these clichés and take them to somewhere more authentic, a meeting of art, noise and pain that is weirdly redemptive. They throw themselves into every gut-punch riff and beat with fevered passion, creating monochrome swirls of distortion that either leave the room flailing or rooted to the spot in reverence. It’s transformative in all respects and the worship that is thrown their way tonight is wholly deserved.