Amebix – Sonic Mass

Over 20 years ago Rob Miller turned his back on the world, settled in the remote location of the Isle of Skye, and against the rugged backdrop of the Cuillins, became a self-taught sword smith.

History saw Amebix become a casualty of their cult success coupled with record company wrangling. Ricocheting from their Devon school, to a Dartmoor manor house to the squats of Bristol, the band became the first UK signing to Jello Biafra’s label, Alternative Tentacles. Amebix delivered the album ‘Arise’ for the label in 1985, followed by ‘Monolith’ for Heavy Metal Records in 1987.

Of the bands re re-emergence Rob says, “In these strange times the Amebix have found we have more to say”.

Upon returning Amebix to active status, brothers Rob & Stig were delighted to find the bands influence had extended across the Atlantic to long-time fan, Roy Mayorga (Soulfly, Stone Sour), who jumped at the chance to become part of the band. They admit that without the addition of Roy there would be no Amebix today, “Roy has bought more than just musicianship to the band, he has bought
discipline and an understanding of what we truly wanted to convey, and the experience to allow that to manifest.”

In early 2009 Amebix made their first ever American appearances, selling out eight venues across the country. Buoyed by this initial success, they returned to the US and Canada for a second tour later in 2009, as well as numerous European appearances. This tight live unit lead to the desire and inspiration to record new music, to the obvious pleasure of their legions of fans.

Amebix celebrated their return to the music scene in June 2011 with single,’ Knights of the Black Sun’ A taster of the album to come, the band described it as “a coming of age for our music, that will surprise a lot of people”

Rob states that the new album ‘Sonic Mass’ is the product of guerrilla warfare, “it took three years, looking for opportunities to meet and create music – different places, different times. It feels like this album grew organically around us. It’s a mature reflection on the lives we’ve lived and a vindication of the journey”.
For those of you expecting a punk encrusted record, then its time to think again, as Amebix have grown into a dark and brooding semi-thrash extreme metal band.
Opening track ‘Days’ is one of the lighter moments on this album, but never the less, has a dark mood building up, just waiting to punch your lights out, however where the Amebix of old would have just gone for it, this new and improved version, with the help of long time fan, Roy Mayorga, a bone fide American heavy rock star, one time drummer for Stone sour, shows Amebix in a whole new light, the song has a structure, and the vocals are extremely well sung by Rob Miller. We even have strings.
This record will disappoint the fans of old, but then again, they will now be middle aged, and will have matured, ( hopefully lol ) and as such should be able to appreciate what Amebix have created here.
With the next couple of songs, Rob draws the brutality from the songs as they did in the old days, and presents the listener with an unsettling view of the world, however there is a purpose here, and it’s mostly to counter Stig’s bass laden guitar playing. Rob’s voice holds you enthralled, and you have dig a little deeper to appreciate the depth of musicianship presented on this record.
“The Visitation” takes you on a brutal riff chugging journey, a masterpiece.
“Sonic mass parts 1” opens with gentle acoustic picking on a Mandolin, yet even that sounds “heavy”, part 2 is the complete opposite, its opens full on, pounding drums, deep chugging riffs, grabs the listener by the throat and never lets go.
“Here come the wolf” is a bit of light relief after Sonic mass, while its still as powerful, its just not as intense, allowing the guitars to take the lead, with some tasty licks.
“The one” is the penultimate track, a tribal tub thumping leads the way, followed by Robs take on the end of the world, the drums on this track are just awesome, furious drumming by Roy drives this songs along at a relentless pace.
The closing track “Knights of the sun” is another dark and brooding statement of this new direction Amebix have taken, its sweeping and grandeur in its story telling, a future classic.
‘Sonic Mass’ is a dark, sprawling soundscape of majestic proportions, metal and richly gothic toned, of tribal drumbeats and soaring melodies. A menacing 9/10.
Amebix are the ultimate underground band, and without them I don’t think half of the bands in extreme music would exist.
Its great to see them back.

“Sonic Mass” track listing:
01. Days
02. Shield Wall
03. The Messenger
04. God Of The Grain
05. Visitation
06. Sonic Mass Part 1
07. Sonic Mass Part 2
08. Here Come The Wolf
09. The One
10. Knights Of The Black Sun

Rob Miller: Vocals/Bass
Stig C. Miller: Guitars
Roy Mayorga: Drums/Keyboards/Mandolin

Amebix website is HERE.


About David Farrell

General Manager and 'THE' competition guy at Manager of The Goddanm Electric, Tour manager for Serpentine, and ex-general Dogsbody at Media partner to numerous bands. Also takes photos, writes reviews and likes classic rock, with a touch of thrash to get the blood flowing.