An 80's sitcom starring Sherman Helmsley as Deacon Frye in an all-black Christian church. Most of the humor comes from the Deacon's crazy personality and his naive daughter, played by the girl who played Dee on What's Happening.

Amen are a punk/metal/hardcore band from Los Angeles. They play extremely hard and aggressive music with very socio-politically motivated lyrics.

The lead singer, the improbably (though appropriately) named Casey Chaos, is a thoughtful, intelligent, articulate individual who cares deeply about many important things. He also has a reputation as being one of the more violently insane stage performers in modern rock, and is said to hurl himself around without a whole lot of concern for his, his bandmates', or anyone elses safety. Speaking as somebody who has seen the band perform live, I can say that this reputation is 100% Justified.

(It was, incidentally, one fuck of a good gig.)

Amen began life in LA in 1994. Casey Chaos had a vision of music which was pure and honest about the state of the world and the reality of American culture. Harsh and biting, fuled by hate and love in equal measure, and about as violent as its possible for music to be.

The first musician Casey found to assist him was guitarist Paul Fig. They met through the LA music scene and began playing together, quickly forming a strong mutual respect and friendship. Then, about a month before recording was scheduled to begin, they met drummer Shannon Larkin, formerly of Ugly Kid Joe. Casey and Larkin immediately hit it off and began jamming and writing songs together- about half the songs on the album were written in that month. Through Larkin, guitarist Sonny Mayo of Snot became very interested in Casey's work and eventually left Snot to play with Amen. After the tragic death of Snot singer Lynn Strait in December 1998, John Fahnestock, bass player with the band, also joined Amen.

Amen enlisted renowned producer Ross Robinson (Deftones, Korn, Slipknot, latterly Glassjaw and At The Drive-In, and forthcommingly Vex Red) to work with them on the debut album. Ross signed them to his own imprint label, I Am Recordings, and got to work on the record. It was a violent time. Casey is said to have given himself black eyes through the intensity of his singing, and if you listen to the record you can hear things breaking in the background.

Amen's live shows are perhaps even more spectacular. Casey gives 110% effort each and every night. The level of pure, raw emotion on display is exhilirating and inspiring, yet slightly scary at the same time; violence, already a common occurance at shows, is an increasing problem at Amen gigs, occasionally errupting into all-out riots. (Note: I personally regard this as a Bad Thing, and a poor reflection of the mentality of Amen's fanbase. The violent members of the crowd are most definitely a small minority, but alas, that is all it takes to ruin a night out for the rest of us. Such is life.)

Amen were set to tour Europe in December 1999, but their label pulled out and withdrew funding at the last minute, and the band had no choice but to cancel the tour. The fans' anger at this was surpassed only by the band's. They saw it as the last straw in what had been a volatile relationship with the label; The band parted company with Roadrunner shortly thereafter.

In what seemed to many (myself included) as an odd move for such a militantly punk-ethic band, Amen signed to Virgin Records. However, they did so through Ross' I Am imprint, ensuring that the major label would have as little artistic influence as possible, thus maintaining Amen's freedom and integrity. Amen immediately set about recording their second album We Have Come For Your Parents, due for an autumn/winter 2000 release. Pre-release press began hyping the record in Ross' words as "The most violent album ever released on a major label". The preview track Refuse Amen, released to radio stations and magazine coverdisc editors, was perhaps slightly less violent than expected, but that only served to intensify the impact of the record upon release. What made it even better was the fact that, in the UK at least, it retailed at a significantly below-average list price. In Virgin Megastore on Princes St Edinburgh, for example, you could buy it new for £7-99. I don't know about you, but thats what I call punk.

Another bizzare move for Amen was the full UK tour they embarked on, as part of the NME/Carling Awards, with the distinctly soft, melodic indie bands Alfie, Starsailor, and JJ72. I went to the Glasgow show on that tour, and it was one of the best gigs I've ever witnessed, despite the slightly surreal lineup. But I digress- thats another writeup for another time.

The future looks good for Amen, especially in the UK, where the band seem to be having more success then in the US. Their records are selling well and Radio 1 have definitely taken a liking to the band; Casey has appeared many times on the stations late night rock show. (The band also made what I suspect to be radio history when Steve Lamacq's Evening Session broadcast an uncensored live set from the band featuring the words shit, fuck and cunt, only shortly after 9pm.)

Amen is:

Amen releases to date:
(This list refers to the UK- I don't know what singles have been released in the US or elsewhere. Please /msg me if you have any info.)


The album `Amen' is, shall we say, not an album which I would reccomend to my mother. If a parent ever wanted an excuse to reel off the "That's not music, that's just noise!" cliché then this album would do nicely. Its an unrelenting beast of a record, every track is a take-your-head-off affair, and only two are over four minutes long. The guitars sound for the most part like they're in severe pain. Whatever Paul and Sonny are doing to them, it sounds rather cruel. Despite the direct approach to the songwriting, there's a good variety of material on offer here. There are outright punk songs, alongside more... ummm... metal ones.... and.... Okay, so they all sound pretty much the same, thats not the bloody point! This album is pure old-skool don't give a fuck punk rock, which is a refreshing change in todays sanitised, shrinkwrapped music industry. Every song is delivered with the same unbridled ferocity; Caseys vocals are incisive and biting, the drumming is furious and the guitars shriek and roar distressingly. The social comment in the lyrics is about as direct as it gets, and all, I have to say, very true. Its a pure punk album, and a bucket-of-cold-water wake up call to the world. Plain and simple.

Tracklist:

  1. Coma America
  2. Down Human
  3. Drive
  4. No Cure For the Pure
  5. When A Man Dies A Woman
  6. Unclean
  7. I Don't Sleep
  8. TV Womb
  9. Private
  10. Everything Is Untrue
  11. The Last Time
  12. Fevered
  13. Broken Design
  14. Resignation/Naked And Violent

This album was re-released in 2001, in typical money-grabbing Roadrunner Records style, with four extra tracks, lifted from the band's Coma America single. In a statement through Kerrang! magazine, Casey Chaos urged fans not to buy the re-release, dismissing it as a pathetic cash-in by their former label.

A poem written by Christina Rossetti, this Pre-Raphaelite poem is an attempt to come to terms with the ending of love and life. The title, having Christian symbolence, comes from the Greek for 'so be it'. The religious significance of the title is suited to the author, whose poems often deal with religion.

Each stanza appears to have a theme of a season - autumn, winter and spring, respectively. This is shown in the language and imagery used within each. Beginning with the first stanza:

It is over. What is over?
  Nay, now much is over truly! -
Harvest days we toiled to sow for;
  Now the sheaves are gathered newly,
  Now the wheat is garnered duly.

The use of imagery begins with the third line, "Havest days we toiled to sow for". Harvest brings up pictures of a collecting of crops, a bringing together of the things we have worked hard to obtain - the things we toiled for. Harvest also gives ideas of abundance, having plentiful supplies of that which has been grown that year (assuming the harvest was good, of course).

However, the first lines negate all this. "Nay, now much is over truly!" gives us the impression that there is no longer any chance of having this abundance, and that times have changed for the worse.

It is finished. What is finished?
  Mush is finished known or unknown:
Lives are finished; time diminished;
 Was the fallow field left unsown?
 Will these buds be always unblown.

We move onto the 'winter' stanza with an opening line which repeats what was suggested in the first: that what we had strived for has finished, possibly not to resume. This stanza contains slightly less of the first's imagery, instead being more direct in the language used.

The closing two lines, though, see a return to this usage of imagery, using metaphors to express a feeling of loss of potential and regret: "Was the fallow field left unsown? / Will these buds be always unblown?"

It suffices. What suffices?
 All suffices reckons rightly;
Spring shall bloom where now the ice is,
 Roses make the bramble sightly,
 And the quickening sun shine brightly,
 And the latter wind blow lightly,
And my garden teem with spices.

Here we see a change in the tone of the poem, from pessimism to optimism. "Spring shall bloom where now the ice is" suggests that, although the situation may seem bleak now, with the passing of time more chances shall arise. Just as flowers die in winter and are reborn in spring, so might the poet's opportunities.

This stanza sees a continuation of the imagery used throughout, as well as introducing oxymorons to the piece. Rose and bramble are obvious examples of this. Other features used throughout the poem are the rhetorical questions at the beginning of each stanza, and the rhyming scheme. The third stanza adds a final line to conclude, summing up the poem. "And my garden teem with spices" suggests that the opportunities touched over earlier will not only return, but be numourous as well. Therefore the poem has changed in mood since the beginning, become the original stanza's opposite, just as spring is autumn's.


Sources: Amen, by Christina Rossetti, and Best Words (copyright The Associated Examining Board).

As Webster 1913 notes, amen is derived from a Hebrew word, and due to its sanctity was incorporated into church liturgy unchanged. Amen is found in both the Old Testament, and the New Testament, being especially common in the book of Deuteronomy, and the works of St. Paul.

The word amen can be used in several different ways, and can vary slightly in meaning. The Hebrew original (transliterated in several different ways) means confirm, or strengthen. Nowadays someone may respond to a saying they particularly believe in with an amen, but the most common use is of course in ending a prayer.

Biblical usage
This practice probably derives from the Lord's Prayer, which Jesus reveals in The Sermon on the Mount, (Matthew 13 v9-13). This, along with texts such as Romans 11 v36 probably led to the early church considering this to be of sufficient importance that the term was imported into all prayers.

While the modern usage of amen is fairly simple, the word is used in several subtly different ways in the Bible. According the the online Catholic Encyclopaedia:1

[I]ts primary use is to indicate that the speaker adopts for his own what has already been said by another[.]
This is of course the meaning of amen that we use today. Another usage, that can be found in the New Testament is of amen simply as an emphasis, placed either before or after the phrase to which it is attached. In some bible translations this is rendered as "verily", or "truly" Perhaps the best example (also demonstrating the doubled usage) is to be found in John 8 v34
Amen, amen, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.
Another biblical of amen is simply to end an entire book, such as 1 Corinthians. In this case the amen is not applied directly to a previous idea, instead it reaffirms the whole of the gospel.

Liturgical usage
Whereas amen is nowadays used in response to almost all elements of a church service, be they prayer, sermon or creed the specifics were not always the same. Nowadays both the minister and the congregation say the amen, but originally it was uttered only by the congregation, by way of a response. It is thought that the usage was extended after it began to be used by individuals praying on their own.

Even after this (timings, while not precise are within the first few hundred years of the church) some things, especially creeds did not have the amen attached. Since the patristic period usage had become more standardised, although there have been periods in some churches where for example every clause of a prayer was replied to with an amen.

A final interesting note is one of pronunciation. Americans, and those with related accents usually say "Ay-Men", whereas the British say "Ah-Men". I'd be interested in finding out how it's pronounced in other languages, as the original pronunciation, according to one source2 is "aw-mane."


Sources:
  • http://www.gospelcom.net/narramore/concordance.htm
1http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01407b.htm
  • 2http://www.searchgodsword.org/lex/heb/view.cgi?number=0543
  • http://bible.crosswalk.com/
  • The hebrew word, "Amen", is made up of three hebrew letters - Aleph, Mem, Nun. This is sometimes said to stand for "El Melech Ne'eman" which means "G-D is the faithful King". In modern / Sephardi pronounciation, it's pronounced "Ah-men". In Ashkenazi pronounciation, it's often pronounced "O-mayn".

    In saying "Amen" to a prayer or a bracha, it is as if the person is saying "Yes, I agree with what the prayer or blessing says". So, for example, the first few words of the Kaddish prayer say (roughly) "Great and Holy is his is (G-D's) name", to which the congregation respond "Amen".

    In Synagogue, therefore, it's usual for everyone present to respond "Amen" at the end of every bracha. Indeed, there are certain parts of the prayers (such as the public recitation of the Amidah prayer) where it's essential for at least a minyan of men to respond Amen to each of the blessings in the prayer for it to be "valid". So the story goes, the Great Synagogue of Alexandria was so big that not everybody could hear the person leading the prayers, so someone would raise a flag at the points that everybody needed to say "Amen". Although whether it's valid to say "Amen" to a bracha you haven't actually heard (or, to take a more modern example, through a PA system) is a separate matter for discussion!

    Furthermore, in some cases, it's considered that responding Amen to a bracha is as good as saying it yourself. For example, when making Kiddush at home on Shabbat, one person usually recites the prayer, ending with the bracha over the wine, and everybody present says "Amen". Everybody can then drink the wine, without needing to make the bracha themselves, as they have accepted what the bracha says by saying "Amen".

    Amen has also been used as a response to a curse - for example, in the Torah, Deuteronomy 27:16 "Cursed is anyone who dishonours their father or mother - and all the people shall say, Amen". In this case, the people are accepting the outcome of the sin.

    In general one does not say Amen to a bracha that you make yourself. One well known exception is the fourth blessing in Birchat HaMazon, the full grace after meals. However, firstly, this isn't a blessing in the "conventional" sense of the word, and secondly, one traditionally pauses briefly between the end of the sentence and the word "Amen".

    A`men" [L. amen, Gr. , Heb. amn certainly, truly.]

    An expression used at the end of prayers, and meaning, So be it. At the end of a creed, it is a solemn asseveration of belief. When it introduces a declaration, it is equivalent to truly, verily. It is used as a noun, to demote: (a) concurrence in belief, or in a statement; assent; (b) the final word or act; (c) Christ as being one who is true and faithful.

    And let all the people say, Amen. Ps. cvi. 48.

    Amen, amen, I say to thee, except a man be born again, he can not see the kingdom of God. John ii. 3. Rhemish Trans.

    To say amen to, to approve warmly; to concur in heartily or emphatically; to ratify; as, I say Amen to all.

     

    © Webster 1913.


    A`men", v. t.

    To say Amen to; to sanction fully.

     

    © Webster 1913.

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