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Album is an acquired taste & eclectic in approach - 65%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, January 15th, 2012

Technically the music on this album doesn't really count as black metal as the pace isn't chaotic enough and the sound is too clean with none of that icy "blasted heath" atmosphere to clog up the proceedings and smother the singing. A lot of the music doesn't even count as metal at all: the heavy rock stuff is but a template for soaring spaced-out synth tunes, some punk, proggy-rock melodies, acoustic guitar passages, some Middle Eastern chord flecks and rhythms and, towards the end, a Monty Python narration sequence and some whacked-out dancey cheese-electronica. The music is not consistent and these British space crusaders give the impression that at the time of recording they were still finding their musical feet and appropriate spot in the space / time continuum. The thing that pulls the entire album together is its theme of stripping the mythology surrounding the figure of Jesus Christ to reveal the human beneath and exposing mainstream Christianity as propaganda and social control: that kind of theme would be enough to qualify MoA as black metal of a mild sort.

Among the better tracks, I single out "80 Grains of Sand" which is close to black metal in some of its vocals and features a recording of a rabbi reciting a Jewish death prayer. The track opens up in the middle and for a moment or two we seem to be in a completely different time and world. "Guts for Sale" has a pleasant and memorable bluesy guitar passage with a clean and refreshing air. A cover of the Hawkwind song "Utopia" appears; in the context of this album, the song suggests a sarcastic attitude to what awaits fallen Christian martyr soldiers in the afterlife. "Sons of Arak Rise" is not bad, sliding from something almost like black metal with a rhythm sprayed with Middle Eastern flourishes into symphonic prog metal. The lyrics verge on the cerebral but the band avoids excess in both music and words.

Track 10 features music sprawling across various genres and scenarios of war and mass slaughter. The narration is hilarious if ghoulish: we are continually reassured of God's nearness to us while people scream in pain and anguish, after which when everyone has died and gone upstairs or downstairs, carnival festivities start up and machine guns fire in celebration. The whole thing is meant to be a sarcastic comment on martyrdom and wars fought for religion and ideology. The bonus track "Book of Dreams" pops in and is not at all remarkable even as techno and there's no need to hear it out.

MoA are an acquired taste and their schtick can only last so long before it goes stale and camp. They obviously don't take themselves all that seriously but the music here is serious enough.

An original version of this review appeared in The Sound Projector (issue 13) in 2005.