Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose. Since 2000's 'We Have Come For Your Parents', Amen frontman Casey Chaos has parted company with both his record label and the other four members of his band. You'd never know it from listening to 'Death Before Musick', though.
To all intents and purposes, this is a word-for-word rewrite of 'We Have Come...', from the sub-two-minute opening scream-fest to the closing four-minute crescendo, via Casey Chaos ranting about all manner of social evils. And, of course, you can read these rants in the punk-as-fuck lyric sheet, which also features a lovely cut 'n' paste collage of all things punk: there's a protest march, a safety pin, lots of cut-up-headline shenanigans... oh dear me.
This time round Chaos goes off on one about war, bombs and Michael Jackson, all the while backed by some noisy generic punk. Sometimes this noisy generic punk comes with a bouncy riff ('Westwood Fallout', 'EXTERMINATE!') or a catchy chorus ('California's Bleeding', 'Money Infection'), but usually it's just plain noisy and ever-so-slightly melodic ('We Got The Bait', 'The Abolishment of Luxury'). None of which is necessarily a bad thing; as noisy generic punk goes, Amen are better than most, and Chaos' discordant roar and infectious enthusiasm add a touch of character to proceedings. A few tracks stand out: the gorgeous semi-Beatles tribute 'Hello (One Chord Lovers)' is surely a future Kerrang! TV favourite, and 'Oblivion Stereo' shows off Chaos's Jello Biafra impression to its fullest extent.
So what it comes down to, basically, is this: can a pretty average punk album be redeemed by a couple of great songs and a winning performance by Casey Chaos? I'll go for yes.
7Nick Lancaster.'s Score