‘Blimey’ I thought, ‘This new Amenta album Choke Hold is a bit of a con – only five tracks and three of those are old tunes…’ but then I realised that Choke Hold is actually a stop-gap 5 track EP release to keep the fans salivating until the release of the new album Flesh Is Heir. And as EPs go, it’s a tiny nugget of delight. Kicking off with the brand new track Choke Hold, it’s industrial with a dash of Ministry and perhaps even (dare I say it?!) a touch of Slipknot (but then I am old and confused...). It’s heavy as fuck though and that’s the main thing; there’s bags of electronic wailing woven within the song and the whole piece seems to come at you from all directions. The dirty yet massive sound gets a massive tick from me, particularly as I found VO1D (their 2011 release) to be a tad too clean production wise. Choke Hold does have a relatively simple arrangement, from which the Amenta blokes have hung splashes of high pitched notes that cut to the ear immediately, with suitably tortured vocals care of CainCressall there’s surely enough here to get the goat of any passing talk-back radio host. As an opening track, it’s pretty damned sweet.
Next is a cover of the Godflesh track Christbait Rising which is remarkably similar in structure to Choke Hold but I have to say that when The Amenta cover a tune, they do it very well, somehow making it their own yet retaining enough of the songs' essence to keep it recognisable. The overdriven bass and howling notes are reminiscent of the hollowness of our souls, with the band going for the spaces between the chords and ringing harmonics. Aye, they’ve done a lovely job here.
We get two live tracks next; Sekhem Live at The Arthouse and Vermin Live at The Arthouse, both with incredible sound given the fact these are recorded from live sets. These two songs show that The Amenta are more than capable of reproducing their music in a live setting and I make a mental note to catch them next time they’re in Brisbane. Sekhem roams and shifts between black and death metal effortlessly with the drums rumbling through like the heaving of tectonic plates while the break down in Vermin gets almost funky with its sliding bass before launching into some serious riffage. Cressall’s voice is excellent and the musicianship of all concerned is brilliant.
Last track Void (Remix) is from the free download album VO1D so it's possible a number of you MaF readers may be familiar with it. It starts all sultry and sexy with an industrial/electronic ambient vibe then the vocals kick in and the tracks darts away from the familiar territory of traditional electronica. I love this kind of stuff but I do ponder if it would freak the shit out of more people if there were no vocals on here? The guitars kick in and build like some Rammstein-esque beast and it's equally evocative of Combichrist too - there are some gorgeous drum fills on here and I wanted the track to last that little bit longer so it could go off in more unfamiliar directions, giving the band an opportunity to explore some more freakish sound-scapes.
As a tasty teaser ‘fill the hole till lunch time’ (with lunch time being the release of the Flesh Is Heir album) this should satisfy fans and newcomers alike. Bring on the main course, I say.