Babylon Mystery Orchestra -- the collective name for Sidney Allen Johnson, who wrote, arranged and performed this apocalyptic record -- might provide an appropriate soundtrack these dark days as America teeters on the brink of war. Divine Right of Kings is an epic-sounding CD, musically influenced by Blue Oyster Cult, Kiss, Therion and countless other diverse bands and fueled by the fire-and-brimstone of Biblical prophecy but without the usual "Christian rock" message of salvation, redemption or forgiveness. Rather, the album -- in the span of 11 tracks -- tells the saga of a thinly veiled nation bent on destroying itself through religion, politics, lust, greed, power and idolatry. The lyrics are ballsy ("Little Suzy didn't go to school today/It's not the kind of place for little girls who pray/She learned about gays and alternative lifestyles/But they wouldn't let her read from a Bible," from "It's My Right") while the music is sometimes sludgy but always majestic (think slow-motion progressive metal with strings).
But it is Johnson's droning baritone that both makes and breaks this record. Initially, his voice of doom is perfect for this material, but by the middle of the record -- regardless of how melodically appealing or impeccably arranged the song -- the lack of fluctuation in Johnson's delivery could make listeners weary. And his heavy-handed pontificating (while all well and good and commendable) still comes on a bit strong at times: "Many lives will tread the path/Few will make it to the last/Only faith can guide you on the road to madness," from "Road to Madness."
Still, Divine Right of Kings is an intelligent disc that deserves to be heard by the masses, if only for its sobering message. The cover photo of the Statue of Liberty shedding bloody tears is a not-so-subtle signal that Babylon Mystery Orchestra won't step lightly when it comes to political and social issues. Plus, the music will simply kick your unholy ass. Repent!