Amebix is a name that you’ll have come up against more than once if you’re a long-in-the-tooth fan of heavy music. The band's squalid, uncomfortable mix of anarcho-crust lyrical drive and sludgy death metal sonic dynamics has proved a fertile template for more than one bunch of noisy upstarts since the band’s Devon-based inception in the late seventies.
In its 2011 incarnation, Amebix is an altogether more sophisticated beast, plying a riff-heavy trade that, especially on the likes of the strident God of the Grain or the utterly convincing Here Come the Wolf (sic), comes on like a reggae/electronica-free version of the mighty Killing Joke. There’s literally no fat on this release at all, as each one of the ten tracks gets straight to the point, the result being an album that delivers a constant stream of high quality, intelligently bombastic doom, interspersed with the likes of the quasi-title track, Sonic Mass Part 1 where the band ventures into the kind of neofolk territory that’s usually the domain of acts such as Sol Invictus . Follow up track Sonic Mass Part 2 adds a bit of Motorhead and Hawkwind to the mix, but this album is more – so much more – than a mere game of spot the influence.
By the time you reach the final brace of tracks – the swirlingly maelstromic The One and the space/goth rock armageddon of Knights of the Black Sun (where the band throws in a huge dollop of Bauhaus into the mix in a move guaranteed to throw you into a gleeful black-clad meltdown) you’ll have been rendered speechless by theconsistent assault of quality sonic bombardments you’ve just been subjected to. Much like Killing Joke’s last album, Sonic Mass is a record that synthesises bang your head gonzoid mayhem to intelligent lyrical observation to such an effective extent that you’ll find yourself returning to it again and again. Fantastic stuff, and definite album of the year material.