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My Own Private Alaska: Amen

Boasting an impressive cast list of engineers and producers such as Ross Robinson (The Cure), Ryan Bosch (Foo Fighters) and Alan Douchess (Mastadon), this debut album from French heavy progressive rockers MOPA is quite an ear-grabbing piece of metal. Starting deceptively with a light piano figure, the wildly emotional (screamo?) vocals of 'Milka' (Matthieu Miegville) soon reveal the deeper layers to come. Milka at times sounds like Mr Doctor of Devil Doll fame while the mixture of cavernous drums and treated piano creates a highly charged atmospheric condition to the music.

A syncopated drum figure opens and digs deeply into the screaming vocals in "After You" with the palliative effect of the piano coming into play a few seconds later and taking the tempo down a step. However, Milka's tortured voice explodes into being again after a brief solo piano interlude. "Die for me" is initially less stressful on the ear with a bright piano cascade covering for the lamenting lyric. The rear end though sees the song become more dissonant with an increasing vocal intensity. "Broken Army" marches in briskly with drums and piano leading the way. Milka then staggers in, denouncing the purposes of war and militia. The piano becomes increasingly erratic and the drums stutter and heave their way to a series of false climaxes before the drawn out and dramatic vocal exit.

Milka is at his most Mr Doctor-like on the next track while "I am an Island" stands out for its superb lurching rhythm, startling, electronically deconstructed arrangement and angry sexual lyric. The title track continues this breathtaking intensity with a repeated chant bouncing off a quite beautiful piano composition over a chaotic drum tapestry. Milka starts the next track a capello and is gradually joined by a light piano figure and then by drums. "Page of a dictionary" returns to the Devil Doll style, the atmospheric, up-scaling piano figure a highlight. The penultimate track tones things down slightly but "Ode to Silence" amusingly starts silently. Milka makes a sub-audible few comments and then the piano and drums return to the fore with Milka stepping up the gears to a gut-wrenching climax before the song ebbs and flows in a series of soft reflections and agonized exclamations.

This album is by no means an easy listen but it is a very interesting work juxtaposing the melodic traits of the piano with a highly dissonant but professionally on-the-button vocal performance. As much influenced by Liszt as it is by death-metal. Heavy metal without any guitars who'd have thought it?

Track Listing
1. Anchorage
2. After You
3. Die for me
4. Broken Army
5. Where did you sleep last night?
6. I am an island
7. Amen
8. Kill me twice
9. Page of a dictionary
10. Just like you and I
11. Ode to silence

Added: August 23rd 2010
Reviewer: Richard Barnes
Related Link: Band MySpace Page
Hits: 1605
Language: english

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