The only church that ever saved me… was the church of Ra.
People talk about artists and music that has changed their life in some way or another, and it’s always for the better. I’ve never had that happen to me until the night I photographed Amenra‘s set when they were touring with Converge and Willhaven. I didn’t know too much about them and had only heard the show was rolling through so I signed on to photograph it. Little did I know what I was in for.
Their set was amazing and unbenounced to me (at first) I started feeling a little funny… like I wanted to cry or something. I shook it off and continued to shoot. After the show I just headed home to pass out. A few days passed and I was still wondering about that band Amenra… and what the hell was going on with me. I don’t really cry. If you know me, you know I’m not the “average” chick who’s always “in her feels” (I almost threw up typing that). So for me to feel that way… was weird. One day after work I decide to give their latest album Mass VI a listen. Full volume with headphones.
I swear I thought I was dying. My heart was dying. I sat there shaking, crying uncontrollably. It was like (this is how I described it to Tim from DGD) “a void opened up in my chest and this darkness just poured into me. It felt like my heart was being squeezed. Everything came out. Everything I didn’t want to think about or remember. PTSD type shit.” It was slow, and painful, and relentless.
Everything came up. The time I ditched Thanksgiving cause I was going through some shit and I didn’t really want my family to know (you can see it on my face, I can’t hide emotions). Then three months later my favorite uncle dies and I felt guilty as fuck for not seeing the family (I know he was wondering where I was). The french guy I fell for (like an idiot) while in the throws of the most painful period of my life (the abusive ex-boyfriend), who only made my emotional state worsen. And of course, the abusive ex-boyfriend himself. Everything I had tried to smoke away and forget for two years STRAIGHT… I remembered. Every fucked up thing he did to me. The rapes. The shotgun he constantly pulled on me. Getting hit. That… and every little thing else in between. I held that in, and no one knew.
This album not only gave me permission to cry… it demanded that I cry. After that night, I wasn’t really the same. My pain was brought to the forefront of my mind and I could no longer ignore it. I started telling people these things. Slow at first, and then one giant post on Facebook and Instagram detailing some of the things that went on and what I went through. His ex saw it and contacted me. Apparently the same things happened to her too and we’re going to report his ass to the Grass Valley Police Dept. on Monday. Crazy shit.
When I tell you this album did something for me, I really mean it. I still can’t play it without crying a little, but it’s an amazing album. Not so surprisingly, this album was inspired by some of the band’s darkest, faith-shaking moments and memories as well.
“It took us a couple of years as always to find the right mindset to write a new album. Works of music whose creation was fueled by pure necessity,” AMENRA’s Colin van Eeckhout explains. “We needed to write, at this point. Finding inspiration in depression, sorrow and despair. Levy found himself in a dark place for some time, where he shut himself off from everyone to write new music. It was the first Mass album he helped writing, and his being is felt throughout the entire album. Lebon, our drummer, celebrated the birth of his newborn son. We were all saddened by Mathieu’s father’s cancer and are mourning the loss of Lebon’s beloved mother. And for me, personally, my firstborn son had a tumor removed from inside his head. It seriously shook my ground. Fate strikes and strokes. Where there is Love there is Pain.”
I’ve been talking to their press contact Dave about an interview, but I’m not sure what to say to a band that devastated me and altered my life for the better… besides a huge “thank you!”. I feel like that’s what true art is about. Taking your pain and putting it down in an artistic state, and making it so vivid that others feel it too. And hopefully, it changes something that desperately needs to be dealt with. I swear I’ll get those interview questions up soon enough!
If you want to have an experience, maybe not as dramatic mine (haha!), but just as amazing check out their Mass VI album IN FULL below. I tagged it earlier but, you know, just in case you missed it. ALSO! They’ll be on the road (in the air) this Fall for some shows in France, New Zealand, Japan, Australia, and of course Belgium for Desert Fest. Check out their tour dates here!
Their other albums are amazing too (all named “Mass” followed by a Roman numeral), and you can get them here!