Sunday, 22 November 2015

Amen "Don't imitate / Show your hate" Ep, 1993

As planned, let's take a healthy dose of early 90's, dual vocals crustcore from Finland. Because that is what punks should do on a sunday to frighten neighbours and appall lovers of mainstream music. It is childish, futile and thoroughly enjoyable. Do it.



When one thinks of Finnish punk, crust is not the genre that usually springs to mind. In fact, even if you think hard about it, you'd probably be struggling to name 10 proper crust bands from Finland. And it is quite odd, since Finnish hardcore and bands like Kaaos, Rattus, Tervet Kadet or Riistetyt have been definite influences on many crustcore bands worldwide. So one would presume that Finns cannot possibly dislike crust, and I don't think they do, they'd just rather play fast hardcore, sometimes with a light crusty twist, but hardcore nevertheless. There were a few exceptions in the late 80's/early 90's though: Painajainen (whom you can read about here and who were originally part of the 80's hardcore scene) whose blend of hardcore and metal, probably by accident more than design, was really close to early UK crust circa 1986, and you have Amen, who formed in 1989, in Helsinki, and made an ENT-styled racket on purpose.



When discussions about early ENT-influenced crust punk occur, at a cocktail party for instance, one usually hears mentions of bands like Disrupt, Hiatus, Destroy!, Battle of Disarm, Embittered, MVD and a few others, but despite a solid discography that should secure them a comfy spot in the crust canon, Amen are often left out. OK, they picked a shitty name, but then, that fact never stopped anyone from listening to Battle of Disarm, Fleas And Lice or even Anti-Cimex...




"Don't imitate / Show your hate" was recorded in 1993 and can be seen as the band's most powerful crust offering and one of the records that is the most representative of early 90's eurocrust. Like most bands at the time (Hiatus being a notable exception), Amen looked like they struggled a bit with singers since no less than five people ended up growling for them throughout their existence, but the guitar/bass/drums backbone remained the same however. The first Ep, 1989's "Gospelcore", is possibly the best mix of Kaaos and early-ENT I have ever heard, teenage sloppiness and snottiness included. 1991's "Feikki" Ep and "Paranemia" Lp were already heavier, thrashier endeavours that saw the band giving Hiatus a go for their money while keeping that Finnish hardcore edge. The split Lp with Rytmihäriö, recorded the next year, included songs that had a more of filthy metallic crust feel at times and it is arguably their less "Finnish" recording. 1993's "Don't imitate / Show your hate" Ep summarized the best of what Amen had been doing since 1989: fast crustcore with over-the-top vocals and a raw, powerful sound. The songs are effective and dynamic and crustier than your socks after a three-day festival in Czech Republic. I find the voice of Sebastian particularly original as he sounds like a rabid duck. Yes, a duck, I am not sure he meant to sound like a duck but that's what I hear anyway! And it's not bad at all, it gives a sense of insanity to the songs and provides extra punkiness. Following that great Ep, Amen recorded a split Ep and a full Lp, "Memento Mori", in 1996 that were a bit cleaner musically and less of an aural savagery (it's still all-out eurocrust though, I am just nitpicking).



In terms of content, Amen wrote rather simple socio-political lyrics from the heart. On "Don't imitate" you can find a song about the condition of Native Americans (remember that 1992 was the 500th anniversary of the "discovery of the Americas") and one about believers that I feel is aimed more at pseudo satanists than anyone else ("Fuck believers"). On an archeological level, Amen was also a breeding ground for other Finnish bands. Amen singers Basse and Edu would later sing for the well-respected Selfish and the sadly under-appreciated Wind of Pain respectively. Kaide (bass) and Mika (drums) would later form the great, Tervet Kadet-inspired, Viimeinen Kolonna that have running for almost 15 years, while Marko (guitar) got to sing for hardcore revivalists Uutuus.



Visually, "Don't imitate / Show your hate" is an interesting piece. Whereas the cover looks like a regular 90's crust one, the backcover has a picture of a punk with an Amebix-themed leather jacket that is just horribly pixelated... It was the early days of digital imaging and it showed! Oh well, that's 90's glamour I presume. The fact that they put Amen in place of Amebix at the top of the jacket made me smile though! Now that I think about it, a lot of Amen's artwork referred to Amebix, though they don't sound anything like them... Were they part of an Amebix sect or something? I bloody hope so.



Finally I included the Missing Link mailorder insert that was included with the Ep. It was a German distro and it gives a good idea of what DIY punk trends looked like in 1993. I found the Ep in a 2 euros box at a gig a few years ago. The bloke at the distro told that it was his copy (he had two of them) and that it had been sitting in that box for ages... We live in a strange world.









5 comments:

  1. If I remember correctly, this was the best Amen ever got. I liked this label, too. (still interested in hearing details about all your stereo gear from when I asked at the Embittered/Hiatus split post)

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    1. I also greatly enjoy the split with Rytmihäriö to be honest, a bit sloppier perhaps but the good crunch is here.

      About the sound system:
      - my turntable is a Pro-Ject essential 2, a great one definitely, although I have only had it for a year. Before that I had an average Ion.
      - my computer right now is a Mac OSX 10.6.8., I am not sure about the sound card but it's the orginal one. Again I only got it raher recently, before that I had an old HP laptop. That's why the older rips on TSN (with the Ion turntable and the HP laptop with a not so good sound card) are inferior. If I have time on my hands at some point, I will try to make new, cleaner rips of some of the older posts.
      - My sound system is a Sony CMT-GP7. The Pro-Ject turntable is pre-amped through a Cambridge audio system that is connected to the system. Then there is a cable that links the audio system to the computer microphone input.
      - the rest is audacity toying.
      - as for cd's I currently rip them through I-tunes, I don't think it is the best, I had a good software dedicated to this task on my old laptop (can't remember the name of it though) but I can't seem to find a decent one for Mac actually.

      I hope I have been thorough enough!

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  2. thanks. great record. got a major scratch on the title track.

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  3. Exact Audio Copy on PC. XLD on Mac. Both are free. Both are the respective benchmark software. Here is a tutorial for how to set up XLD and rip with it: http://wiki.hydrogenaud.io/index.php?title=Configuring_XLD

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    Replies
    1. That's it, I had Exact Audio Copy on my laptop. I will give XLD a go then.

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