ALBUM REVIEW: MCC [Magna Carta Cartel] – The Dying Option


Martin Persner, formerly a guitarist with Swedish occult metal sensation Ghost – he was “Omega” among the band’s anonymous line-up of Nameless Ghouls – has resurrected an old project (founded back in 2006) to deliver a full-length album of soft, electro-fied rock that is dramatic and atmospheric at times, but without the considerable peaks of his “other” band.


Persner (guitar/vocals) cites as influences 1980s sci-fi and horror movies like Blade Runner and The Shining, but little evidence of those inspirations is apparent from the music. First track ‘Arrows’ builds and builds dramatically, guitar, bass then a rock-solid drum beat (Arvid Persner), plus “sha sha” vocal effects. It’s a good song but not a particularly strong song, and that’s the issue. There are no real bangers, unlike Ghost albums, where it’s ALL banger.

‘Silence’ is a hookier prospect, the burbling synths and guitars again to the fore, but it’s more of the same. The emphasis on electronic soundscapes recalls electro house and electro rock artists, not least Australia’s Pendulum. There are a few Ghost-soundalike intros, particularly ‘Darling’ and ‘Savantgarde’, the former possibly the best, “poppiest” and most successful number. ‘Don’t Look Now’ (an anti-war song, it seems?) sounds like all the others, but is more than seven minutes long. 


‘Dusk’ is a three-minute instrumental. A track called ‘Valkyria’ seems to have more life to it, more of a pulse, but not much more (Ghost’s Tobias Forge has been credited as a co-writer on this one). 


It is obviously harsh to compare three-piece MCC (Par Gledor is on bass and keyboards) too closely with Ghost, but let’s face it, everyone else is doing it. The lyrical content is miles away from Ghost’s focus, ambition, dexterity and sheer audacity. Euro-babble references to hell, ashes and dust, wind and fire, punctuate vague tales of ill-defined characters enduring some struggle or tragedy or other. “Heaven stands alone,” whatever that means. Oh, and: “The future is not what it used to be.” Neither is nostalgia, unfortunately.


Sameness of approach plus sameness of arrangements equals “bland”. Some Papa Emeritus (Forge) humour, invention and charisma are badly needed, particularly the humour, as much of this is strictly po-faced, and plodding. Ghost it definitely ain’t.


The reassuringly old-fashioned The Dying Option (Vernal Vow Records) is a nicely produced (Niels Nielsen) and well-engineered album that simply, sadly, lacks stand-out, memorable songs.


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6 / 10