Hello and welcome to Sentinel Daily after your extended leave of absence from the world of ‘our kind of music’… and thanks for taking part in our by-now traditional end of year recapitulation – now, to the questions!

For the benefit of our readers, please identify yourself and what you do in the band…”My name is Timothy Pope, I play keyboards, samples, noise and various effects and audio detritus in The Amenta. The Amenta is an extreme metal band with music that draws from death and black metal, but also noise, industrial, doom, post-punk and death rock”.

Long time no talk! What sort of a year do you think it’s been musically, notwithstanding the chaos going on in the real world? And what were your musical highlights in 2020? “Personally, I am not as on top of new music as I used to be but there are definitely some absolute brain melting highlights from the year for me. I find that, even in years that seem like there haven’t been that many releases that have made me stand up and take notice, if I go back and look through them, I am blown away by all the music that I have forgotten. So at first though I was thinking 2020 was a bit shit, but, Christ, there have been some incredible releases. From an extreme metal side, there have been brilliant albums. I’d name Ulcerate’s Stare Into Death And Be Still, Throane’s Une Balle Dans La Pied, Selbst’s Relatos De Angustia, Napalm Death’s Throes Of Joy In The Jaws Of Defeatism and Cryptae’s Nightmare Traversal. All of them are really dark, and forward-thinking music but in very different ways. From outside of extreme metal, I have been blasting Kali Malone’s The Sacrificial Code, Kevin Richard Martin’s Frequencies For Leaving Earth Volumes 1-5, Aesop Rock’s Spirit World Field Guide and Cabaret Voltaire’s Shadow of Fear. Once again, very varied but all really interesting”.

You can’t beat a bit of Cabaret Voltaire in my experience… Were there any lowlights for you this year? Or do you prefer to try and stay away from things that are going to make you disappointed? “I tend to forget the lowlights and move on. Outside of the fact that there were obviously very few gigs in the last few months, I didn’t really notice any low lights. For new music, I tend to find myself digging around finding new (to me even if not released this year) music all the time so I have no time to dwell on anything that is unimpressive. I’ve noticed a large discrepancy between my tastes and the tastes of those who are hyping up the big releases, but I guess that’s part of getting old and being cynical. Best keep that shit to myself”.

We can’t talk about 2020 without mentioning COVID- how did it impact on your band specifically? And how did you combat COVID setbacks? And, moving ahead, do you think the way we do things like touring in the future will be able to take any positives from what’s happened since March? “We were, in some ways, lucky with our timing and in other ways COVID fucked us. We’d actually finished recording our new album completely just before COVID hit in Australia. Even before that, we were all living in different states and countries, so we had become very adept at keeping everything going with constant emails, messages and video calls so the COVID lockdown didn’t change our process to much. Where it did become difficult was when we started working on promo assets like band photos and film clips. As we are all spread out over the country and world (members now in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Los Angeles) and the borders for the country and even the states were closed, it made it very hard to work out a way to take photos and film any footage. But we found some pretty inspired work arounds that people will see in the next few weeks. If there is a positive about this situation, I think that it will enable and even require a reset of the way we do things. Speaking for our band, I know that touring was an expensive proposition. Hopefully, with this time and with audiences being trained to seek out alternatives when everything opens up there will be opportunities for us outside of the usual touring circuit. I am hoping we see a stronger DIY touring scene, which has always existed, but hopefully this becomes more viable for bands and promoters”.

If a worldwide pandemic had happened twenty years ago it’s arguable that the effect on bands may have been even worse given the absence of the internet and social media – Do you think the fact that fans now have a much more direct line to bands meant that social media played a part in helping bands survive this period of financial instability? What do you think of the rash of pay per view concerts we have seen spring up recently? “I would expect that social media has helped. But then I believe social media is both a blessing and a curse. We know have virtually unfettered access to artists but now there is a move towards “content creation” rather than “art creation”. I know we feel the pressure to have “content”. I think this time could be better spent actually making art but it has become a requirement, so we soldier on. That said though, I admire the bands who are working out ways to make the system work for them. I have friends in bands or who are promoters who had their whole touring calendar wiped but managed to use their social media pull to launch new business and side hustles to get them through, so it has undoubtedly helped overall. With regards to Pay Per View concerts, I am all for them if people want to pay for them. I don’t know that it is my cup of tea but if people enjoy them then I am happy that they exist for them. If bands can do them and it works for them then that is a very great thing”.

And what about the ‘Zoom Jams’ – are you a fan? If so, what ones should we be seeking out on the internet to cheer ourselves up? “I’ve seen a few, but for me they are mainly a curiosity rather than fulfilling a live music need. A few of the Sepultura Zoom Jams are interesting as it’s a regular feature for them and they always have an interesting guest. It’s not so much a Zoom Jam as a livestream. I am keen to check out the upcoming livestream by Aversio Humanitatis. Their last album was another one of my 2020 highlights, but I don’t know a lot about the band, outside of their excellent music so I am interested to see that show”.

Shows are tentatively being booked now across the world for 2021 and beyond – what does the next twelve months hold for you? “We haven’t got any shows booked yet, but our biggest plans are revolving around the upcoming release of our fourth album Revelator, which is being released in early 2021 by EVP Recordings in Australia and Debemur Morti Productions for the rest of the world. We’re currently working on preparing for that release, as well as creating more music and filming some clips. As we are spread out all over, we figure it best to cross this hurdle before working out how to get us all in one place for a live show. But we are keen, so hopefully we can get some shows happening next year. We’d love to do some local shows, as we have been away from the live circuit since 2014. We’re also always keeping our eye on international opportunities”.

It’s our end of year round up, so of course our thoughts are turning to the Holiday season. What’s best for you? Christmas or New Year? And what will you be drinking? “New Year is always a disappointment. The best New Year’s celebration I ever had was an accident that started out terribly but with the application of much booze, become a rampage to remember. But every time I have planned anything it has been a waste of time. So, I am going to put my money behind Christmas. I have a young family and get to spend the day with them. I will be drinking anything I am offered. My extended family likes to drink, and they drink good wine and beer, so I imagine I will be starting with a few tasty IPA’s then moving to the Semillon with the seafood lunch and then back to beers before ending in a shiraz haze. That’s the plan, anyway”.

And, if doing these Q&As for nearly a decade has taught me anything, it’s that you have to have a plan… Now, picture this scene; You’ve been invited to the Sentinel Daily office party -we’ve let you take charge of the stereo for five songs. What will you play? “Firstly, I would apologise, because no one likes the music I like so I am going to spoil your party. Then, I would play the following because they make me happy:

1. ImmortalGrim & Frostbitten Kingdoms (it features snow which is Chrismassy).
2. AkercockeA Skin For Dancing In (it has a good beat and you can dance to it).
3. Yoko OnoMindtrain (Currently obsessed with the Fly album and this is a good mix of krautrock groove and atonal wailing. Heady shit).
4. NicoFrozen Warnings (Because it is sacred music).
5. Morbid AngelDominate (Because you have to end on a short, sharp punch to the face)”.

You’re right. That’s a challenging ‘party’ list! That’s enough festive fun – here’s your chance to speak directly to our readers – what would you like to say to them? “Thank you for the fun. Dear readers, our new album, Revelator will be released early 2021. It’s our first album in seven years and is a significantly different work than our previous mix of black and death metal. We recommend you check it out if you have a taste for dark, ugly music of all stripes. Don’t drink and drive”.

Wise words at the end there. Thanks for taking part and good luck with the new album!