I usually like to live with an album for a little while before I write about it. I like to ruminate, even on music that immediately grabs me, but after discovering Amenaza's demo on the all-around-excellent site Tape Wyrm, I felt compelled to write about the band's demo almost immediately.
Amenaza (Spanish for "threat") mixes up hardcore, doom, and sludge with a hefty dose of disaffection. I immediately liked the music--songs like "Cancerous Infrastructure" mash up crawling doom with faster bits of fury--but the lyrical content really dragged me in. It's no secret that the U.S. has long-standing issues with race relations and an increasingly militarized police force post-9/11, and those problems have only been highlighted recently with some very notable instances of police brutality. Anyone with a soul can't help but be troubled by what's happening, but Amenaza happen to be from Lawrence, Kansas, which is just a hop, skip, and a jump from Ferguson, Missouri, so perhaps it's no surprise that they'd unleash some fiery indignation about recent events. The band makes no attempt to obscure their feelings in the lyrics of songs like "Cancerous Infrastructure," with gut-punch lines like,
A shield used to protectThey cover similar ground in "No Oversight" with lines like,
All the power obsessed
Treating colored flesh with disdain
Piece of shit in blue
Broken judgement for any crimeAdded to that, there are some sound samplings of police "incidents" that rival the screaming children in Panopticon's Social Disservices for hair-raising potential, and like another Panopticon album, Kentucky, Aemenaza aren't afraid to put out some righteous protest music.
Makes a god with a badge to hide behind.
The lyrical content isn't solely focused on police misconduct--"No Praise for the Mutilated World" sees the band taking on honey bee colony collapse, of all things. But beyond the impassioned lyrics, the high quality of the instrumental music is what made this album a one-two punch for me. The vocals are turned up to 11 for catharsis, the guitar riffs often ring out in a very satisfying way, and the smooth transitions from slow doom to a faster churn, like in "Each Footstep a Lesion," pull me right along. Even if you don't have a visceral reaction to the lyrics, this is quite a slab of doomy hardcore, and it's a hell of a first outing.