The band is renowned for nitro-spiked music, onstage bedevilment and absolute artistic commitment. Their individual dedication has at times verged on the destructive, as it has torn at unity and concord. In addition to this manifest turbulence there is a conceptual span in place with Amulet, the antipodes of which is defined by Karl Marx and the superstition suggested by the band’s name.
But with their new album this blast-furnace fireball from the sub terrain of Oslo found something valuable: themselves.
This discovery they chose to give the name “All that is solid melts into air”, and it says a lot about the band, their vantage point and agenda. The title is a Marx-quote, and refers to the fate of bourgeois institutions when capitalism comes to its “self”, i.e. strikes its essence of self-combustion.
To use such a title is becomingly subtle, for the etherisation suggested is not exactly the first association one would have regarding hardcore music. The genre name, hardcore must be the absolute converse of the idea that cemented reality becomes a gaseous wisp, as it melts into air. However, in Amulet’s interpretation this air is in turmoil, a ferocious storm, for angry snarling panic-stricken and desperate forces are apparently let loose in this melting-process.
In the case of Amulet, what has finally melted is a long history of internal differences and omnipresent strife. This friction had been almost defining for the band, or so they thought, for it seemed to be the proper fuel for the kind of expression they were after: focused and forward-bound hardcore. What they found, however, was that even if friction did function as such a source, it was an even greater source of exhaustion. And a long period of this constant battle of forces finally came to an end with a near- breakdown experience.
But out of this came something of great value: The band found that by pursuing the dictum of strife they had actually found the essence of the band: themselves, their deep unity and the core of the expression they had established over more than ten years. For after the “meltdown” the hardcore energy was not gone, it was focused and magnified. And along with this continued fuel, other traits were set free: the realization of the full dynamism and creativity of the band, aspects that could only fully flourish when the unity had overcome the strife.
Thus “All that is solid melts into air”, in fact refers to some kind of deconstruction, which resulted in the unearthing of an essence long sought and battled for.
And on this background the Marxist reference seems all the more pointed, as the “melting”, in Marx view, is unavoidable.
For Amulet the result is not a new system of thought or world order however, but a re-invigorated and future-bound leap of musical and personal densification.
As they make clear, political ideas in general -Marxism among them- are not on the band’s agenda. But they do make a point of such many-layered references and a wider, extra-musical, orientation for their own sake. And they hope this may generate a greater consciousness of the energy and (artistic) fuel that is to be found in audacious political ideas and their igniting formulations.
Singer Torgny Amdam has always made a point of these kinds of aspects, and rejects as underground snobbery the idea that hardcore music and socio-political interest are incommensurable entities.
Amulet’s heroes are 8o’s hardcore bands, chiefly American, some of which displayed political engagement like few other artists. From these bands they take the creed of being engaged in realism without preaching a particular cause or solution; being aware of the fuel in these matters and using it in the music.
In the case of ATISMIA (All that is solid…) the essence of the record is the fusion of this attitude with the more personal experience of battling and defeating inner demons. The result has been called “controlled wildness”, referring to the focus and mastery the band has achieved in the process of finding their artistic essence and the full force of the unity of five individuals.
The record is a celebration, as well as an epitaph, of this process, and as such –with new horizons laid bare- it takes the genre one step further. For along with the renewed force of hardcore essential constituents, the album displays melodic ability, structural mastery and song-writing skills that point towards the future of the genre.
The production furthers all the traits of the record’s conception and development: the band is ultra committed, and strained to the point of bursting, but masterly reined-in to allow aspects of melody, and text come through. It is a complex and more substantial production than ever before in Amulet’s history. The sound is saturated and clear, like liquid, translucent oil: a lubricant needed to allow the storm of instruments, beats and screaming vocals to spin out in full precision and not degenerate into noise.
For a band more hard-working than most, and for five individuals with such a burning commitment and such a will to sacrifice for what they believe in artistically, managing to carve out of their own rock bottom their best record to date is nothing less than remarkable.
And it is with a special sense of justice and reward that one beholds commitment come to fruition in such an inspiring way.sd
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