BAND: Architecture of Aggression
ALBUM: “Acts of God – 4000 Years of Phallusy”
Having rubbed shoulders with these chaps a couple of times in the past at various shows across SA and Namibia, it should not have surprised me that the South African Postal Services staff were eager to be rid of the package which had been (literally) haunting their premises for almost a month. I had been away, you see, so collection was delayed by some weeks. The timid looking lady behind the counter passed me the package, hurriedly, in such a manner that it appeared she did not want to be touching the thing. I received it, smiling broadly, as is my typical demeanor. Moments later I realized that my jovial interaction probably just added to this poor woman’s disdain, as I arrived to collect this demonic package clad all in black. When I crossed the post office threshold and turned the package over to look at it, it became immediately clear as to why it had been handed to me face-down. Big black letters announced me, the intended recipient, as “Darkfiend” and the envelope was sealed with a circular black sticker featuring an inverted pentacle, the numerals: 666, and the dangerous-looking AOA logo. Very ominous indeed!
Back at the office and eager to open it, I lopped off the top of the envelope and gasped, realizing that I’d chopped off something more that was contained therein. Luckily it was just the biography – unfortunate, though, that it was so nicely presented until my scissors decapitated it! What impressed me was the vibe that traveled with this album. It told a story right from the moment I introduced myself at the post office.
I thought I’d opened a lucky packet when things started tumbling out, even including a hymnal (work of genius) – an example of those which got distributed at the album launch party. Bottom line is: this band ain’t screwing around! They’re imaginative and passionate, no matter what you think of their underlying themes and messages – a topic for which I, personally, can speak neither for nor against (despite what Post Office lady might have thought).
Acts of God: 4000 Years of Phallusy
The album art and packaging is awesome. Beautifully designed by Johan Freyer (also known for previous Architecture of Aggression artworks, and has created artworks for some other SA metal bands) and printed on a nice robust paper in high gloss. There is a definite theme in the design which carries straight into the music.
Admittedly, from a production point of view, it comes across as a little rough around the edges. In the bands defense, though, I doubt they ever intended to, or imagined themselves as becoming one of those big-budget, metal-super-group-sorts. They play from the heart and that’s what matters to them and the sorts to whom their music would appeal. If you are looking for BIG production, stop here. If you regard yourself as a true “connoisseur” of Death Metal (especially the slightly more bizarre sort), then read on…
If you get a kick out of blasphemous material, then you can’t go wrong with acquiring a copy of Acts of God – 4000 Years of Phallusy. The opening track is quite chilling. Not a song, per say, but an opener which definitely sets the mood for the album to follow. The next number, ‘Memetaphage’, is the true impression of what Architecture Of Aggression sounds like, and carries a similar pace throughout most of the rest of the album. There were some songs that really leapt out at me. I think the first of great significance for me was ‘Religion of Love’. It was at this point that the theme really started to come to life after the intro, albeit midway through the album. What struck me about it in particular was the beauty of the riff, even though quite simple, but more so the ironic twist in the concept. The song ends with a sensational sound clip from the Gladiator (2000) film that sums the whole thing up and successfully sent a shiver down my spine! From that point on I was captivated. Further use of sound clips and familiar pieces from film just re-inforced the potency of the message in the music in many songs. The final song, ‘Requiem for a Meme’ also is very memorable. Sadly for me, my favorite tracks on the album are those which are probably least likely to be performed live. Perhaps I liked them so much the more because they showed me a side to Architecture of Aggression that I have not yet seen at their performances.
All in all, I think this is a great ‘concept album’. I don’t recall seeing any better example of a concept album coming out of SA Metal before this, and a band is going to have to think hard before they can top the work the Architecture of Aggression guys have done to bring this package together. I must confess, however, that I might not have thought so strongly if I had simply downloaded the music, as the packaging is as much a part of what this album is as the music itself. If this all sounds like what you are into, then I’d strongly advise you buy the real thing to get the full experience.
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