The Amenta | Interview with Chlordane

Themes of junkies, car crashes, slaves and prostitutes! This could be the plot of a new David Cronenberg screenplay but in fact it’s the announcement of the upcoming The Amenta album entitled “nOn” due for release on October 20th through Listenable Records. Built on the ideals of non-conformity and spontaneous creativity “nOn” subversively depicts the decadent and technological addictive flesh-world we live in. According to sampler and keyboard player Chlordane we should question all the information thrown at us by the prostituted media corporations that subliminally plague our minds with misinformation and meaningless garbage.
Read on for a better insight on the bizarre and extreme world of The Amenta.

Once dubbed as an extreme Black Metal act, Australia’s The Amenta are about to shatter such preconceived notion with their second full-length album “nOn”, which reveals a more aggressive, diverse and adventurous approach than previous work “Ocassus”. The band describes the new album's sound as a fusion of extreme metal, electronic noise and dub, clearly a left turn way from the sonority explored on “Occasus”.
The idea of being associated to a musical style like Black Metal pleased you somehow or there was in fact a conscious attempt to distance The Amenta’s sonority from such label? When you were writing the songs for the album were there any specific goals in mind?

“I never associated us with Black Metal, and I would be surprised to hear that we were. That said I have never associated my music with any genre of music. It is my belief that a band should never limit themselves with labels. Once you put your music out there then there will be thousands of people who will attempt to itemise and define your art. That is their prerogative as it allows them to classify music to make it easier to describe to a person. We are the artists. We don’t describe. We show. Why the fuck would we limit what we can show by saying “We are a Black Metal band” as that is rife with boundaries and “rules”. We are what we have always been, an Extreme Music band. The mindset behind these songs is exactly the same mindset behind “Occasus”. When we wrote “Occasus” we wanted to create extreme music that didn’t conform to anyone’s preconceived notions of style. And we did it. This time we know our studio and our technology better. When we have an idea we can immediately realise that because we have practised and we can make anything we like with our equipment. Our goals were, are and always will be to create music that will progress. That chases new ideas and never settles for the comfort of generic ideas.”

There’s also a change in the band’s image, which could be described as absent given the band choose to portray themselves in black costumes and masks and disclose precious little information on its members. Was this option a conscious one, like letting the music do the talking?

“We have always believed in appropriate presentation. The image shown in the ‘n0n’ photos what how we felt the band and the album needed to be represented at the time. It serves a basic need for us in the band for various reasons while also divorcing our music from ego. I think, if you look closely, that the image on the ‘n0n’ album is no less theatrical than that of the ‘Occasus’, however it is more appropriate for this album which deals with various subjects such as drugs, terrorism, media manipulation and politics. We have never given out information of our members. Not that it is a secret but just because we feel it is irrelevant. IF you see us in the street we will happily talk to you about the band but we do not believe that a band should be presenting and packaging their egos with their music. Especially as our band doesn’t function like a normal band. On this album we didn’t just have a five person band. We had guests, old members, various drummers and that is just the recording. The preparation contained even more people who are just as important to The Amenta. We don’t show our faces because our faces aren’t important. We have a photo because we then get asked this question. People do not understand the absence of ego in music. They believe there is some ulterior motive. There is not.”

The recordings of “nOn” involved several studios and various contributors and performers from three different countries, more precisely two drummers, six vocalists and two bass players. Was it difficult to gather all these musicians in the studio and why did you opted for this recording process?

“This was due to the organic nature of the album process rather than a preconceived plan. As the album was recorded over more that a year it often fell into place that someone was in town at the right time. Or a song may have lacked something and that person sprang to mind as someone we could use. We see people as instruments to use. If a guitarist wants a certain sound they might choose a Stratocaster over a Telecaster, we do the same with players. If we want a different sound then we find a person who has it. An example is the song Skin. We used a friend of ours, Nick Readh, because he had the right feel, a hard hitting garage sound. We used Jason Mendonca on ‘Whore’ because he had the voice we wanted. We chose studios for the same reasons. We recorded at The Gaelic Theatre because it is a big open room that would give us a good natural reverb. It’s a matter of finding the right tools rather than compromising and creating something that isn’t all it could be.”

As mentioned above some of these contributions include guest appearances from well known underground figures like Jason Mendonca from AKERCOCKE and Alex Pope from RUINS between others. How did these musicians end up collaborating with The Amenta?

“We toured with Akercocke in Australia during recording. We became friends with them and when we needed a spoken voice for “Whore” we immediately thought of Jason. We sent him the files and recorded some great takes which he then sent over. We went through them and picked the ideal take. Alex Pope is a good friend of ours. We had always wanted him on the album as he is a good friend and a very talented musician. He flew up on the day we started mixing and we recorded his parts for “Dirt” in a spare room of the studio while we were mixing in the other room. Despite the pressure he delivered some great takes and really brought the song to life.”

In 2006, The Amenta had lost the services of vocalist Cessium 137, who has since been replaced by a fellow simply known as XJX or RE. Was it difficult to find a suitable replacement for Cessium 137?

“This is the third interview I have answered that talks of XJX. I don’t know who this is. It seems people take information on the Internet as gospel. XJX is not our vocalist. The vocalist we do have is excellent. He has an amazing rang and his voice is a great instrument to work with when we are writing. It was very difficult to replace Cessium 137. We knew what we didn’t want in a vocalist. We didn’t want a typical metal growler or screamer. Those vocals sound cartoonish to me and have nothing to do with the message we are getting across. We advertised and fielded a lot of audition tapes. We found a couple that were really good and started working with one of them. A great vocalist but we ran into time constraints and it would not have been possible to continue for various reasons. We then found this guy who had completely gone under the radar when we looked around locally. He auditioned and with in a week we had demos for all of the songs. I think the vocalist will be a very important part of The Amenta.”

What does the album title “Non” signify?

“‘n0n’ means many things. The main theme of the album is that people look at something and do not think deeply about it. They make a decision based on a very surface assessment. This results in a binary thought process. Right or wrong, black or white, yes or no. Non is a prefix which means nothing without a word following it. Non-Inclusive, Non-Judgemental. Two very different meanings. It also represents two sides of two different binary equations: No and On. The zero in the middle is a third, a binary figure: 0 1. Pictorially it represents two characters circling a drain. These are just a few of the meanings. Put your own meaning on it. It’s as much yours as it is mine.”

“nOn” features themes like "Rape", "Cancer", "Whore", "Dystrophy", "Atrophy", "Slave", "Vermin", "Dirt", "Spine", and "Junky".
It seems there’s an entirely negative and nihilistic theme running through them, is there any sort of concept behind the lyrical work?

“‘n0n’ has many interlocking themes. There is the one I mentioned before, of Binary thought. This feeds into a manipulation of people by media. People believe everything they see on TV and never search out meanings our alternative few points. This feeds into politics as the new religion as people have their chosen God figure and his opposition Satan. People worship their fucking politicians and revile others but they are NEVER aware of what that person stands for. Ask them a detailed question about the politician’s beliefs or agenda and they are invariably unable to answer. Then there is the state of modern art as a postmodern stagnant pool. No one tries to do anything new any more. Specifically we attack the dire state of modern extreme music which is just a fucking joke. Finally we have a theme of people prostituting themselves. Selling themselves to the highest bidder for security. Selling out their promise because they are scared.”

Between all the decay and negativism exposed on the album’s lyrics is there any sort of positive message lurking behind them?

“No. I believed that the world could be changed. Now I know that is not possible. The world can’t be changed because the sickness that we sing about is one of society’s building blocks. You can’t pull it out without the whole thing falling down. Dirt is about this realisation. All you can do is distance yourself from society. Nothing you can do will change it. Society is shit but it will continue because it preys on weakness. And people are inherently weak. I don’t want anything to do with it. I want out.”

The band haven’t had the chance to tour Europe or the US yet, is that a scenario you’re willing to change with the new album?

“Of course. We intend to get overseas as soon as possible. It is just a matter of timing. We have been offered tours in the past that have been impossible because of line up problems or it being during the recording process. We will definitely be overseas, hopefully to both Europe and the US to support this album.”

Do you see yourselves relocating to Europe or US in a near future, a similar move that the Berzeker did a few years ago in order to give the band more exposure in the live circuit?

“Maybe, who can say? Who would we bring? Our band is a weird amorphous thing. If we can get the musicians then we will go. Maybe we can do it here. We need money. Money to tour, money to move and our main focus is new music so that has to come first. Who knows what the future holds. I for one would love to go.”

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