Amebix doesn't record songs so much as they build freight trains. The fathers of crust punk, Amebix made a name for themselves in the early '80s by forging a unique blend of Black Sabbath-style metal and Motörhead-style aggression. But, while both of those bands were heavy in their own right, Amebix seemed to up the ante by tying together the different elements into a singular, undulating, relentless CLANK CLANK CLANK CLANK CLANK.
Redux comes off the heels of their recent 2009 reunion, in which the band played a few limited dates stateside. Amebix millennia three is composed of original members Rob "The Baron" Miller on vocals and bass, and Stig on vocals. Joining the fold is Ray Mayorga who made a name for himself by drumming for Nausea, which was, in someways, the NY reaction to Amebix.
Consisting of three studio re-recordings of material spanning the original Amebix run, and one live song from the latest tour, the new EP seems to be both a warm-up for newer Amebix material as well as a manifesto. In recent interviews The Baron lamented that many listeners interpreted Amebix's message of hopelessness while he felt that the music was one of positivity and determination. Of the three studio re-recordings, "Arise!", "Winter" and "Chain Reaction," all three feature lyrical themes of change, defiance and resolve.
The band defines itself not just with the selections they chose to re-record, but also in the way they updated the old material. While Amebix always had a distinctive sound, their crunchy stomp evolved from their early affiliation with anarcho-punks Crass, where the bass was low in the mix and mass of feedback was layered over top the music, to their classic Arise!-era Killing Joke meets Tony Iommi chug-chug-chug to the Monolith album where they sped up and leaned more toward their thrashier side.
On Redux, Amebix seems to draw from their Arise! era, letting the songs roll forward at a forceful but grinding pace, backed by Mayorga's almost tribal drums, albeit with a little bit sleeker production value. Of course, The Baron's voice is bound to be compared to Lemmy's growl. But, where Lemmy seems to perpetually have a wad of mucous and glass spinning in his throat, The Baron spits the bile out, letting his inflection twist and churn as it crawls into your ears. The piece that most benefits from the re-working is the re-recording of Monolith's "Chain Reaction." While the original was almost a speed metal headbanger, the new version rolls forward with a slower, heavier cadence, transforming it into a hypnotic chant, and with its snarled call-to-arms, it's almost a neo-pagan sermon on the mount.
Now that Amebix is back and running again, they've established a sound which hearkens back to their classic era while recording with a crisp 21st century sound. Now we can only hope that they tie us to the tracks with some new material and then run us down with some more live shows.