Musically, Amenra is a band about crescendo, rituals, despair, mood and, ultimately, counterpoint. Always building their sound really close to a boiling point, then bringing you back into a sea of subtleness and melancholy. Like any good story, their shows are about peaks and valleys, exploring the space between light and darkness. Frontman Colin H. Van Eeckhout goes through a personal catharsis that touches the audience on a gut level. The show in Brooklyn – performing with Canadian legends VOIVOD and masters of doom YOB – was no exception.
Thematically, this is a band as complex as its sound, starting with the pristine presentation of all their materials. Members of the collective Church of Ra collaborate in the band’s visuals. This select group of designers, artists, filmmakers and photographers create a universe that’s stark and beautiful. Every single piece connects with the personal themes explored in the lyrics. Putting their soul into everything they create, these are scriptures of their own faith.
I believe that while every serious artist lives through their art, there is no real separation from the musician, painter, photographer . . . and the person they really are. We just reset our masks and calibrate our behaviors depending upon the situation. We build barriers to protect ourselves and our art from intruders and leeches. It is hard to build trust in seconds, and perhaps that’s why the first few shots reveal a character who seems tense. Yet, I’m always trying to make the people I photograph feel at ease. My words might trigger something positive or, in certain situations, something negative – that is part of the process. Always my intention, however, is to find the image that is unique and different – something that represents the artists at their core. I sat down with frontman Colin H. van Eeckhout for a few minutes and snapped a few portraits after the show. It’s always a difficult moment for an artist, especially for the person who poured his soul out on stage. These shots captured the moment as it happened.
Art is about catharsis and the power of story. Through its sound, Amenra’s canon has created a unique bond with audiences. Through the rituals they create around their music, their essence is pure. If we don’t elevate our art, why go out every night and pour our souls into the world?
Don’t forget to listen to their latest album MASS IV: Close your eyes and go into a Solitary Reign.
Portraits of Colin H. Van Eeckhout
PHOTOGRAPHY: A.F. CORTÉS