Babylon Mystery Orchestra - Poinium Cherem

12 songs
55:54 minutes
(self released)

Two years after his last album The Godless, The Godforsaken And The God Damned, Sidney Allen Johnson aka Babylon Mystery Orchestra is back with his sixth, and possibly, last album Poinium Cherem. The last four years of the Obama presidency must have left him very frustrated, and let’s face it, the Republican team consisting of a Mormon and a Catholic can’t be considered a viable alternative for this musician whose world view is a strange mix of Old Testament Christianity combined with paranoid right wing conspiracy theories (and whose wardrobe is an even stranger mix between Crusader and Confederates uniforms).

If you ever take the time to peruse some of Johnson’s essays on his homepage, you will find yourself taken aback by his political and religious cogitations. Let’s face it: in Europe most people all share, more or less, the same core values, and in the end Socialists and Christian conservatives are more or less meeting in a kind of political middle ground. Not so in the good old US of A, a country founded by religious fugitives, whose progeny has been fed from the get-go with hour-long sessions of early morning right wing talk radio. So this time, Mr Johnson is once again attacking the usual suspects, like homosexuals who are in his opinion without an exception paedophiles in the making, and of course there are tirades again this godless theory of evolution, and to make things even more arcane, we learn that quantum physics are a lie. Of course, Albert Einstein and cohorts must have got it all wrong.

This is all packed into a soundtrack of hard rock teaming up with gloomy gothic sounds, all played by the artist himself. One wonders if he doesn’t find any musicians wanting to share his ideas with him. But let’s not limit the review to the admittedly strange and for most people detestable lyrics. In an onset of fairness, I will also dissect the music. Johnson is a good enough guitarist when it comes to his rhythm work. There is too much strange distortion at times, with occasionally exaggerated flanger effects that sound too much like the bad side of the Eighties. It gets really bad though when he is inserting solos, definitely not one of his fortes. The bass guitar could have done with more punch in the mix. The drums are probably programmed, but not even bad at all, I concede. The keyboard layers are run-of-the-mill but do what they intend to: adding the desired gothic end-times flair. But I do wish that there were no piano parts, as they are performed just as poorly as the guitar solos. The vocals are like always: monotonous grumblings that sound really angry and frustrated.

From a musical perspective, not all hope is lost, but one gets the impression that if Sidney Allen Johnson spent as much time on rehearsing as he did on elaborating his political ideas, the final result would be much more listenable. The CD booklet is of course once again, as in the past, splendidly researched and laid out. But who will eventually buy this product. It does sound a little like AC/DC, Sisters Of Mercy, Type O Negative and Danzig jamming together, although BMO of course never achieves those artists’ ingenuity. But then I guess it might be rather farfetched to expect any politically equilibrated person to spend money on the weird political and religious ideas that Babylon Mystery Orchestra is pandering. Now only the question remains about the artist’s future perspectives: will he quit or become even angrier if Obama gets elected for a second term? And in the case of a Republican victory, will he reveal a whole new slew of conspiracy theories? Only the future will show…

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