Fans of the band Ghost may be familiar with Magna Carta Cartel. Frontman Martin Persner was formerly their rhythm guitarist known as Omega or ’A Nameless Ghoul from 2010-2016. Their new album, ’ The Dying Option’ has been highly anticipated by their loyal fanbase as this is their first full length release since their 2009 album ’Goodmorning Restrained’.
There are sounds within this album which show that MCC has taken inspiration from 80s electronic and alternative rock groups such as the Pet Shop Boys and U2. There are a multitude of musical styles which blend together on this record. Anyone who has listened to MCC’s 2017 EP, ’The Demon King’ will find joy in hearing similarities between some of the tracks on ’The Dying Option’ and the EP. Magna Carta Cartel describe themselves as an alternative/experimental rock band and I would agree with that assessment.
The press release for ’The Dying Option’ details that this is an album best described as rock music from the world of dreams. ”MCC create cinematic sounding themes with captivating melodies and poetic lyrics…. A ticket into a state of mind seldom seen or heard in modern music.” The opening track, Arrows reflects this sentiment. It starts somewhat dreamlike and evokes imagery of a rising sun. The slow but gradually intensifying beginning would be very suitable for a movie soundtrack. Arrows is very cinematic throughout and the constantly changing ambiance reflects the highs and lows of a typical dramatic action film plot.
The first single from the album is track 2, Silence. This is a fantastic introduction for a new fan to listen to. It is accessible and easy listening, but it has sections which hook you in to wanting to explore more. There is a story Persner wants to tell and there is something both beautiful and sinister in this song at the same time. The lyrics ”If you think that you will, remember to kill in silence” and ”we could easily instantly go back to hell if we tried” proclaim death and damnation but is sung delicately. The guitars creep up stealthfully until the climax of an ending. This song certainly breaks the 5 year Silence which we have had from Magna Carta Cartel but this single demonstrates to their fans that the wait was worth it.
Track 7 Tamsa has a very different feel. It opens progressively with keyboards and guitars blending together and the drums keeping a gentle rhythm. It has an overall chillout feel that is reminiscent of many tracks from MCC’s previous releases. Persner comments within the lyrics that he ’may not be much of a singer’, but his anxiety about his vocal talent is unneeded as consistently throughout this track and the album as a whole he vocally delivers to suit the sombre mood of some of the songs.
There is an overall sense of melancholy throughout the later tracks as opposed to the opening song Arrows. Instrumentally, the listener is invited to imagine a rising sun, which is reflective of MCC’s logo. This is slowly being eclipsed by the moon, and essentially the band’s visual aesthetic is reflective of their music.
One of the catchier songs is Darling. It begins with electronic beats and a pop sound evocative of ABBA. It is easy to sing along to as overall it is very symphonic. Overall it is very melody driven, however 4 minutes the guitar riffs and drums come in making for a slightly heavier conclusion to lead straight into Sleepy Eye June.
Arvid’s fingering on the guitar shows here. This song is more reflective of MCC’s earlier work such as ’The Demon King”. The song has a mixture of loud and quiet moments. Sometimes it does feel like a lullaby as Persner whispers but then the acoustic guitars gently wake you up. Not a bad song but it doesn’t have the punch which some of the other songs deliver. The atmospherics of the sound effects are a nice touch though.
Savantgarde was released as the second single from ’The Dying Option’ on May 27th. Like other songs on this release, it is very melodic and has captivating chorus. The instrumental portion 2 minutes in is well timed and the speed of the song increases in the final moments with short, commanding statements such as ’we will bend’, ’we will kneel’, ’we will heal’. It is most certainly one of the standout tracks on this album.
There is one song on the latest MCC album which credits Tobias Forge as a co-writer, which is Valkyria. Persner’s vocals are spoken to begin with, the poetic lyrics are stated in a mannerism very similar to that of Marko Saaresto in the song ’Choice Millionaire’ from the Finnish band Poets of the Fall. Anyone who is a fan of this group will almost certainly appreciate the complexity and craft involved in this masterpiece. The song is a little more guitar heavy than elsewhere on the album and has some vibes of the Ghost song ’Zenith’ which Persner co-wrote.
The final and title track, ’The Dying Option’ is the best saved until last. The frontman duets with a female vocalist. Magna Carta Cartel have utilised dual vocals live with Fia Kempe from The Great Discord in the last couple of years and this has worked really well. MCC should do more duets as this song is very enjoyable to listen to throughout.
This is Magna Carta Cartel’s best release to date. There is not a single bad song on ’The Dying Option’. The only disappointment is that there is a lack of instrumental tracks which MCC have previously proved to be fan favourites, most notably, Sunsettlers. The production from Niels Nielsen is outstanding and this record is well mixed. Each instrument and sample can be heard. The bass and drums never overpower the melodic sections, which is something that tends to be difficult for some sound engineers to master. If you’ve never heard of Magna Carta Cartel, then it’s time to give them a try.
Magna Carta Cartel is:
Martin Persner – Guitars, Vocals
Pär Glendor – Guitars, Synths
Arvid Persner – Guitars, Drums
Niels Nielsen – Guitars, Synths, Production
The Dying Option is available to download on the 10th June
4- Sleepy Eye June
6- Don’t Look Now
10- The Dying Option
Band: Magna Carta Cartel (MCC)
Album Title: The Dying Option
Record Company: Vernal Vow Records
Standout tracks: Savantgarde, Valkyria, The Dying Option
Reviewed by: Bindi Eyre