Death Before Musick (Columbia)
by Vinnie Apicella
All they want is a little liberation, for God’s sake! And so blares the 90 second opening to Amen‘s latest release, Death Before Musick, an appropriately-titled work of great depth and thought provocation, not to mention life imitating art… or vice versa as the case may be. Amen’s third release is a monstrous undertaking of up from the gutter punk fury built to last for generations of discontented followers with a dollar and a dream. Quite literally, Amen’s frontman Casey Chaos, is living the dream if it kills him, maxing out his own plastic and close friends’ patience in pooling together the band’s latest effort, not to mention the actual band itself.
Death Before Musick is an amalgam of underground-styled music that marries the ol’ school design of the Pistols’ piss-boiled ranting with the madness of Marilyn Manson’s nü school-styled aggression with a production output that probably deserves to be nowhere near as crisp as it comes out, considering the internal instability and excessive recording delays. “California’s Bleeding” is sure to raise a few brows before it’s breathed its last as the album’s first single. Soon to be opening old wounds the world over, it’s a catchy, angry track that single-handedly corners the animal that represents punk rock and invites it to come out fighting against the fashionable same-song pop scenesters marketed as punk. The same can be said for the other 14 tracks waiting to dig their claws in. “Money Infection” is quick to addict with a traditional sing-along verse that’s hard to disagree with, “Exterminate!” is an intense rager that begins quickly and features plenty of bombast throughout, and “Oblivion Stereo” is a punk anthem in the tradition of the UK Subs or ANL.
Past potential did little to insure future success for the struggling ten-year-old L.A.-based project, which having garnered critical acclaim from fans and industry, were yet overrun by outside influences that threatened an early retreat for all their promising steps forward. And through it all, Amen is proof positive that perseverance, and maybe a little prayer, pays off in the end. Death Before Musick is a 15-track rallying cry dominated by dangerous dealings, bad feelings, and enough pent-up energy exhumed to fuel another New York City blackout and Nader campaign.