AMEN with FLYBANGER, 5 LINE LEGACY and PUDDY at the Opera House (735 Queen East), Tuesday (February 27). $12.50. 416-466-0313. as so-called nü-metal groups like KoRn, Slipknot and Limp Bizkit explode on the mainstream, gaining radio play, magazine covers and mass distribution through Wal-Mart, the underground is giving rise to ever more inflammatory combos.
Unlike the above-mentioned, however, L.A.'s savagely skull-rattling Amen -- featuring one-time pro skateboarder singer/songwriter Casey Chaos and several former members of Snot -- aren't especially interested in chronicling wilful alienation from the chess club and other high-school horrors.
As evidenced in Amen's scorching, punker-than-thou latest disc, We Have Come For Your Parents (Virgin), America is a rotting wasteland every day and everywhere, and Chaos is taking minutes.
As the disarmingly pleasant Chaos offers from San Francisco, his damning cultural appraisals have made more friends abroad than at home.
"Our success in Europe is astronomical," he confirms between massive phlegm horks. "But that's typical. People in America don't have taste, and people in Europe do. That's why America is the murder capital of the world, the serial killer capital of the world. We're a fast food society, whereas Europeans are into individualism.
"There you play festivals that might feature Oasis, Limp Bizkit, the Foo Fighters and a bunch of Britpop bands. That would never happen over here. America is just too small-minded."
As a kid, Chaos was transplanted from New York City to the "swampland" of Florida, where he admits he was pegged as a freak early and often.
But there's another key ingredient to Amen's missile-guided hit on the hardcore scene, beyond the band's own hard-knock pedigree and Chaos's dream of working with freak priestess Diamanda Galas, and that is producer Ross Robinson.
Robinson is responsible for some of the most high-profile records of the last few years -- including titles by KoRn, Slipknot, Machine Head and Limp Bizkit. Since he's signed Amen to his I Am Recordings imprint and now produces their records, he's turned into the overseer of the band's career.
His reputation as a psychological terrorist in the studio -- using sensitive personal information to trigger emotional outbursts in musicians, and literally breaking shit -- has ensured Amen's edge never dulls. Not that it likely would, given Chaos's well-documented propensity for cracking bones during unhinged performances. But just in case anyone was going soft....
"Ross is infamous for confrontational behaviour, true," Chaos admits. "You have to push most singers to the edge to get powerful performances out of them. But it's the complete opposite with me -- he knows when to hold me back. He tells me I'm like watching Hitler and Gandhi in one person doing a vocal track.
"Because he's my friend, I've been in studio with him during some of those sessions. I saw him make Rob Flynn (Machine Head singer/guitarist) cry about when he was abused as a kid. But there's a method to the madness. Ross is the Phil Spector of our time.
"As for our music, look, I'm not a preacher," Chaos says. "I'm simply commenting on the society I live in. If people can relate, great. I could care less about wealth or success or any of that crap. All I care about is being a good human being.
"That's the real problem. There's too many people on the planet and not enough humans."*
firstname.lastname@example.orgAmen thrash America