Amebix - Knights of the Black Sun [12-inch] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Knights of the Black Sun [12-inch] (2011)

Profane Existence/Amebix

There is something wonderfully decadent about the 12" single. Although the format gained prominence in the '80s as a DJ tool, contemporary bands such as the Smiths, Bauhaus, and Joy Division would use the massive slab of was as a way of saying, "This song is so important that it gets an entire side all to itself (even though it could easily fit on a seven-inch)!" Whether the effect is emotional or aesthetic, one certainly is more likely to pay attention to a single song if it's presented across an entire disc and pared with a full-colored jacket than if it's invisibly delivered to some covered iTunes folder as the result of clicking "Like".*

After 20-some years of inactivity, crust punk forefathers Amebix have dusted themselves off and dusted off the forgotten format of the single-12 in order to boldly announce their return to the present, while bringing with them elements of the past. While Knights of the Black Sun does follow a well-received tour from 2008 and 2009's re-recordings EP Redux, this is the first new material from the iconic band since their original break in the late '80s.

Broken into three sections, Knights of the Black Sun makes it immediately clear that the band is not interested in merely replicating their older material. While each of the original Amebix releases saw the band evolving, their trajectory seemed to be linear. Here, however, the first part of Knights features frontman/bassist Rob Miller singing in a completely different style than the past, putting his unique growl on hold, while he pulls equal parts from epic metal, grunge, and even choral music.

Following the unexpected introduction, the band increases both volume and intensity, settling back into what could be considered the classic Amebix sound. As their metal/punk chug builds up steam, they finally erupt into an anthemic chorus that is as classically murky as it is defined in sound.

It seems that the band is determined to make their argument for Amebix's new evolution in that the flipside contains no music, but rather, a laser etching of the Amebix face logo. Certainly, the care on this release shows that in the age of disposable music, the band feels that this song, and probably the band's return, is an occasion to itself.

It's interesting that Amebix took such a daring release for their first effort back into the saddle. Although fans were clamoring when rumors of an Amebix return were first forming, it seems that the band is less interested in providing the same-old-same-old, and more interested in pushing their trademark sound to its limits. If the rest of the upcoming album is like "Knights", than maybe the first five Amebix releases were just a warm-up for the band to really get far out... Let's see where the adventure takes us.

* - As a record collector, one of my favorite things is to find a 12" single in the dollar bin (or even more expensive bin) that features rare tracks, alt mixes, or live cuts that were left off some of my favorite albums... Boogie Down Productions, Judas Priest, the Smiths, and pretty much all of reggae come to mind...