Amebix “Sonic Mass” CD/LP/Picture Disc

Amebix - Sonic MassThe legendary Amebix has finally returned with their first new material since way back in 1987 (on Easy Action Records)! Typically thought of as one of the ultimate crust punk bands, "Sonic Mass" should demonstrate once and for all just how grandiose the band's artistic vision truly is. It's far more epic in scope, and has much more in common with Neurosis and especially Killing Joke than it does anything that would ever be considered "crust punk", that's for sure. And I'll be completely honest: Upon first listen I wasn't so sure about all of this. Things start out slow with the melodic bass runs, martial percussion, orchestral synths, and half-spoken/half-sung vocals of "Days", and it can be a bit confusing. It's a big change to digest, especially since the album contains a number of surprises, and is loaded with complexly layered textures and subtle details that take time to sink in. There's a huge range of dynamics represented. There are moments during tracks like "God of the Grain" that are actually reminiscent of the looser, more dissonant playing of the band's early classics—it's just that the well-polished production values and additional textures make those elements less instantly recognizable (a fact hinted at by the "Redux" EP last year). But then you've got a piece like "Sonic Mass Part 1": A stunning display of dark folk combining acoustic instrumentation with sparse piano and Steve Von Till-like crooning. And "Here Come the Wolf" has an unexpected dose of surging catchiness to it that takes everything in yet another entirely different direction. As a whole, the album sways to and fro from softer, darker atmospheres to heavy, churning rhythmic grooves—accented by an assortment of samples, synths, experimental noise textures, and unpredictable vocal approaches. But I think I'm still digesting the big picture, really. This album has the unique potential to land the band some new fans right off the bat, whereas longtime Amebix followers are highly encouraged to give it repeated listens before jumping to conclusions. It took me about a week to get from "Hmmm, I don't know..." to "Yeah, this is impressive. There's really something happening here." And whatever that something is, it absolutely cannot be pigeonholed into any specific genre.

Amebix "Sonic Mass Part 1/ Sonic Mass Part 2"
Amebix "Here Come the Wolf"

It's impossible not to hold a great deal of respect for this band, and I hope that "Sonic Mass" won't be the last new music they're inspired to create together...

Get It

Amebix (CD)
Amebix (Picture Disc)
Easy Action Records (CD)
Easy Action Records (LP)
Easy Action Records (Picture Disc) (mp3)
iTunes (mp3)


  1. I’m not much familiar with band past work (yep, shame on me). The first song starts a little “sleepy” but than “explode” in something very different and good. And second song is again very different but I’m digging this 2 songs quite a lot and I’m sure i will check band previous work as well. I always thought that Amebix is just some “crappy metal” band… Man I was wrong…

    10.3.2011 | By Carlos

  2. They have certainly NEVER been “some crappy metal band”.  No way.

    10.3.2011 | By Andrew Aversionline

  3. Yeah, I know figure out how wrong I was because I never really checked them out… and I don’t know why I always thought Amebix is something I won’t like. Or I’ve thought about some other band…

    There is no excuse but I guess I judged this band by name and something in my “inner” mind always told me “don’t listen this”. And by listening this 2 songs I’ve found out that this is probably my biggest “music mistake” in my life… Whew.

    10.3.2011 | By Carlos

  4. It happens to everyone, myself included, and I can be very stubborn about stuff like that for no real reason.  I highly recommend the early Amebix material as well, though.  “Monolith”, in particular, is my favorite of their albums.  I think you’d like it.

    10.3.2011 | By Andrew Aversionline

  5. sounds like amebix sure enough, yet there’s something different. very surprised and impressed with this

    10.4.2011 | By m

  6. @Andrew: I will check their earlier stuff for sure. I’m must “repair” what I made wrong. Thanks for the recommendation!

    10.4.2011 | By Carlos

  7. this really does sound like killing joke’s last few records.  the cover even looks like “absolute dissent”.

    10.5.2011 | By Anonymous

  8. To be fair it is more like Killing Joke actually began to sound like Amebix over their more recent records,‘Basements’ was noted as heavily Amebix-like when it came out.
    The problem generally is that most people only know about KJ recently,so use that as a point of reference.Neither Arise or Monolith had ANY similarities with Killing Joke,and firmly established Amebix as being innovators of their own sound entirely,this is the same sound as you hear on Sonic Mass,a continuation of their own originality.
    This album is truly outstanding,and much like their past work, may not be fully appreciated for years to come,and eventually lauded as the Great Work that it is.
    There are a couple of Jaz-esque vocal moments,but The Baron has a least five distinct vocal styles on this album,miles away from KJ in so many ways. Ha ha,i remember hearing Tommy Vance playing motorhead Orgasmatron next to Amebix and asking “i wonder who influenced who’? as Lemmy had clearly hoovered up his amebi-flakes that morning :)

    10.7.2011 | By Youthink Yourthor

  9. I can’t say I agree with your first statement, but I do agree that the early Amebix material has very little in common with Killing Joke, and perhaps I should have clarified that my comparisons between “Sonic Mass” and Killing Joke refer to Killing Joke’s later material.  That being said, such comparisons are always loose reference points and shouldn’t be taken as suggestions that there’s any unoriginality at work, etc.  Clearly I think very highly of Amebix and this album.  I’m actually pleasantly surprised that it’s already receiving such wide praise from longtime fans, so perhaps it will surprise us all by NOT taking years to be fully appreciated!?

    10.7.2011 | By Andrew Aversionline

  10. definitely a great review,and i think you may be right judging by the groundswell of support that is emerging,i guess i have been watching a few comments on other places where people clearly dont know where this band came from and what they did over 25 years ago,its almost as if that was buried alive whilst bands like Sepultura made an absolute killing by imitating , and in some cases lifting entire riffs,from Amebix,admittedly much better played but still….
      Anyway,i wish them luck,hopefully they can shrug off that ‘crust’ tag too,never did them any favours.

    10.7.2011 | By Youthink Yourthor

  11. @youthink,

    You cannot neglect where Amebix come from and who they inspired. So why should the crust tag be shrugged? And what are the favours you mentioned? Nothing wrong with diy recording.

    2.2.2012 | By namer