Amen / Minus / Ikara Colt - The Mill (Preston) - 9.4.04

Chaos by name. Chaos by nature. Amen's self destructive frontman Casey Chaos has famously cut himself whilst performing and the unforgettable live gigs have resulted in visits to the casualty department on more than one occasion. Since we last heard from our American friend he's had ongoing health problems, sacked members of his own band and changed record labels. Casey's luck could be about to change though. Where as in the past he had the midas touch in reverse, Amen now walk down the road to comeback city with their heads held high. Now signed to an offshoot of Sony the band are set to release "Death Before Musick", the follow up to the critically acclaimed "We Have Come For Your Parents" and with the exception of a limited edition album recorded for the last tour it's the first new material fans will have heard in over 2 years.

Before Amen grace us with their presence it's the turn of Minus and Ikara Colt. Icelandic metallers Minus are decorated in matching tattoos from head to toe and musically deliver straight up hardcore rock. Blonde haired lead singer Krummi has the look of a finely toned surfer dude, but when his ferocious vocal is in full flow his rock credentials are in no doubt. Over the all too brief half hour set the energy never flags and if their new single "Romantic Exorcism" is an indication of what we can expect in the future then Minus have a very promising career ahead. Following Minus is no easy task and Ikara Colt fail to match the momentum. They can talk the talk but fail to walk it. Their petulant frontman Paul Resende pouts his way through the set, failing to ignore the heckles and jibes which befall him throughout. His Mark E Smith style tirades become annoying as the stroppy demeanour is so obviously an affected part of their act and when they have such an absence of killer tunes or memorable songs it's simply pathetic.

Coming on alarmingly early (perhaps due to the weekly club night) Amen don't just claim the stage, they hi-jack it like the noise terrorists they most surely are. Unlike a lot of their contemporaries Amen haven't sold out by going commercial radio friendly rock. Their brand of uncompromising, no holds barred rock is still a force to be reckoned with. The venue may not be completely sold out, but Amen's dedicated disciples make the most of the mosh pit. Amen sound magnificent live and the atmosphere is positively fused with fervent excitement and the new line-up are better than the original incarnation, so much so that one of the guitarists could even double for Casey Chaos.

"Drive", "Money Infection" and "Piss Virus" are much more immediate and striking live than on the recorded versions. In a set which mixes up material from their inception to the present day Casey asks his fans if they have any requests, allows one of his guitarists to take centre stage and gives it everything he's got. When an over enthusiastic fan breathlessly opens up his heart to Casey in a genuine display of hero worship, Casey kindly embraces him. New single "California Bleeding" deserves to be a massive chart smash which is a sentiment Amen's adoring congregation would no doubt agree on. Amen's ever improving live performances always manage to impress and the sheer spectacle is showmanship personified.

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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