Like many people I am always a bit skeptical when a band that I love reforms after years of silence for a tour or even just a show, and even more so when the reformed band starts recording new material. When the band we are talking about is AMEBIX, a band that virtually define a genre of music, my skepticism peaks.
The thing that makes me resistant to new material is simply fear. Fear that the new songs will sound like a feeble attempt at former glory and that their image in my mind will be tarnished forever. For me, AMEBIX embody the very soul of punk and over the past 20 + years they have given me some of the ideas that I hold inside myself with great reverence. Songs about the power that man holds within themselves and the ability of the heart to soar above the desolation of the world have made AMEBIX not just a band, but maybe the shamans of the tribe.
When I heard that they were going to be touring last year I was a little worried, but having seen two of those shows here in the US, my fears were put to rest. They were SUPREME shows and their integrity was intact. With that said, I was, of course, VERY anxious about this release. Even once I had gotten the vinyl, it sat in front of my record player for almost a week cause I was afraid of what it could do to my image of them.
Finally, I put it on and even as it got underway my skepticism was lingering, but by the end of the record I was sold. Knights of the Black Sun is the only track on this 12" Ep, but it's an epic one with the trademark gravelly vocals, pummeling bass, ripping guitars and pounding drums. The slow build-up suits AMEBIX perfectly here and they show that they are indeed the older, wiser sages of the crust world. But I would refrain from even calling this a crust or punk record. This is just heavy fucking rock that knows where its roots are and was made by guys who know exactly who they are today.
There is a lot of risk taken here in some ways but this track shows a willingness to remain AMEBIX but reach out and challenge us again, just as they always have. Still possessing the core members of brothers Stig and Rob Miller and with Roy Mayorga on drums, AMEBIX are resurrected and they do not disappoint.
The sound quality here is excellent, having been produced and engineered by Roy who has clearly learned a few things about that since his days in Nausea. I know a lot of people who wont like this (or won't WANT to like it) but, I like it, I like it a lot, and found myself listening to it over and over and wishing there was more.
It is both cryptic and evokes a timeless mythos that seems present in all of their work over the years. The one thing that I did not like about this release was its length, being only about 5 minutes, which makes for a fairly long song but for a 12" I would think there could have been another track.
This is a single sided Ep with a cool etching of the "splathead"on the flipside but it seems that there is still plenty of room for more. In a scene that all too often focuses only on what is fucked up with our world, without offering many solutions or even some degree of optimism, AMEBIX again break the mold and convey hope with killer lines like "Rejoice - the Great God Fear is dead". I eagerly await the Sonic Mass Lp to be released in September.
Check the awesome video below created by the incredibly talented musician and artist Andy “Leffer” Lefton.