The Creative Force of The Church of Ra
Sludge post-metal Amenra formed in 1999 in Kortrijk, West-Flanders, Belgium. Currently signed to Neurot Recordings and often associated with Neurosis. “Apocalyptic sludge comes closer to capturing the simultaneous grandiosity and spectral despair of their work. Amenra is the musical manifestation of a Belgian artistic collective who often refer to themselves as the Church of Ra, in an attempt to communicate both the tight-knit nature of the group as well as the deep, ceremonial nature of the art that they create.”
HMA: As a band of your unique style and thematic, how easy/difficult to find the right live music outlet?
Amenra: Very difficult really. A lot of promoters, who book us, don’t really know what they are getting their hands into. It has to make perfect sense you know. It all has to fit into place with the live visuals, lights etc. It’s not easy to fit us into every lineup. Since day one, we belong everywhere and fit nowhere. Each year we organize a small number of shows ourselves so we can do it just the way we like it. We played every forest, church or chapel in the area for instance.
HMA: What is the food for thoughts for Amenra? I believe social maybe political issues are part of the experience?
Amenra: Social yes political not so much really. I don’t know if you read the lyrics. They are quite metaphorical and rather ’emotive’. It’s more a spiritual fight against life’s different endeavours. Life itself inspires us and things that come along. Be it good or bad. The birth of our children inspired us to write our first acoustic EP ‘Afterlife’.
Divorce, Death and more pain driven experiences drive us to make more ‘normal’ albums or ‘Masses’, as we refer to them.
HMA: When you recorded the new piece, do you isolate yourselves from all external influences or do you embrace specific pieces of art, music and literature?
Amenra: We, unfortunately, don’t have the luxury or possibility to fully isolate ourselves from one our families and children and two our full-time jobs, so we need to create at night when all work is done, and everyone is vast asleep. ‘Mass V’ itself got recorded in an old chapel in the Belgian Ardennes, we all got together in a big house there and Billy Anderson helped us recording. We do keep an eye open for all sorts of art that could possibly give us direction. For all I know a beautifully shaped rock, or tree is a genuine piece of art.
HMA: What is your creative process on the album art layout. Is that thematic element along with the music that has the lead? Or do you allow just the music to decree the direction?
Amenra: Album art is a process indeed. It starts with a ‘feeling’, we seek imagery that summons a certain ‘feel’, or atmosphere preferably as close to the music mood. It will always be very very important in our global work. Esthetics. It has to stand on its own. Music, as well as image, has to demand and deserve respect from its spectator.
HMA: Your cover artworks are not your typical Heavy Metal sleeves. Are you guys involved and how do you plan the process?
Amenra: We are very much involved, and pretty much decide on everything, image-wise. They have to raise questions, and possibly deliver answers to those who need them. Befriended photographers and graphic designers, take it to another level. We would be anywhere without them. We look around and look for things that in our eyes have a certain ‘weight’. Things that possibly could mean something to us.
HMA: Five years have passed from “Mass IV” to “Mass V” with a few splits in between and after. Any plans for a follow up? …And is it going to be “Mass VI”?
Amenra: It is yes we never set deadlines. We’ll write it when we feel we have to. We have several releases planned ahead. We are writing an acoustic full-length album, and have finished an ambient album, with accompanying short film that will get released early 2015. We is always busy, working with and looking for inspirational people to work with.
HMA: What’s the idea behind the “Mass” series titles?
Amenra: Every Mass is a certain period in our existence filled with experiences that caused harm to either our loved ones or us. It is our way to cope with Life in all its Glory. It is our way to share our Grief. A mass is a moment of self-reflection seeking answers to questions that live inside us.
Interview by Alex Milazzo – Copyright 2014 © Heavy Music Artwork. All Rights Reserved.