The hype surrounding Amen’s We Have Come for Your Parents raises some questions. Here is a band that proclaims itself to be some breed of dangerous punks, poised to kill the dinosaur of nü metal. Instead, Amen blurs the lines, or perhaps just establishes new connections, between such ’80s hardcore bands as Black Flag and current metal standard-bearers, such as Korn and Pantera. This hybrid is unlikely to steal the fire of the Family Values set, but hey, at least it’s genuinely heavier than the likes of Crazy Town.
It’s weird to call this music punk, but these days that term is used to describe everything from angular, dissonant art bands to atmospheric emo troupes to power-pop trios. Amen has nothing to do with pop or art, but while visceral, it lacks the level of composition and instrumentation usually found in true metal. Still, although Amen might have trouble attracting genre-philes, it should still be able to lure fans from both camps by virtue of being really, really noisy. A brief summary of the group’s to-do list for We Have Come for Your Parents: Play power-chord loudly. Play it even louder. Add loud drums. Have singer Casey Chaos scream so loudly that the listener’s ears hurt as much as Chaos’ throat must. Complain about conservative culture using every Nietzschean insult that Marilyn Manson has yet to unearth. Occasionally, make a disturbingly misogynistic remark. Repeat.
Because of their overwhelming volume, these songs sound good when they’re on, yet they’re forgettable because they offer little in the way of chord progressions, riffs, hooks or memorable melody. Even the group’s shocking lyrics (I want to see you raped/and decapitated/in your silent fate of hidden agenda) can’t lend these tunes staying power.
Although the band has tried to underplay it, there’s an obvious debt to the nü metal movement’s down-tuned style, with the guitarists (both refugees from the now-departed OZZfest fixture Snot) the most likely culprits. The rhythm section creates some decent grooves, but the main star here is Chaos. He doesn’t have much of a voice, but he’s not afraid to use it. His range goes from grunt to thin, bleating scream to louder variation on said scream. But at a time when even “legit” rock wails have been Pro-Tooled to perfection, it’s nice to hear a voice with so many warts.
Amen’s dedication to noise over songcraft makes the band an of-the-moment kind of pleasure, and its attempts to be dark and disturbing are predictably silly. But even if the rumors that the band was put together by record execs to capitalize on a trend (exhibit A — the hired-gun drummer used to be in Ugly Kid Joe) are true, Amen should be proud that it offers such a distinctive gimmick. And the accompanying Making the Band special should be a hoot.