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Akacia - The Brass Serpent

Akacia - The Brass SerpentFormed in 2001, Massachusetts Christian progressive outfit Akacia made an impact with their first album, An Other Life, released in 2003.  Two years on sees the release of their follow up, The Brass Serpent.

The first of the four tracks on this 60 minute album is Postmodernity, a cracker of a piece. Harking back to the progtastic 70's, the Starcastle style of YES is nicely captured as is the general flavour of those halcyon days with elements of Genesis and Gryphon.  It is easy to understand why Postmodernity is receiving airplay on some prog radio shows.

Whilst Akacia generally received good to very good comments from those who bought their debut album, there were a few who considered the song lyrics a bit on the heavy side covering, as they do, religious themes.  They are, after all, an openly Christian band, but some folk can be uneasy when they feel they are being preached at.  When I interviewed Iona's Joanna Hogg a few years back, I raised this 'preaching' thing with her as many folk felt that Iona were 'guilty' of such a thing, but she declared that this wasn't the case.  Like Iona, I am sure that Akacia are not deliberately 'preaching', only writing songs on a subject close to their heart.

The epic 36-minute title track is a case in point with the story based on a section of the Bible about Moses' serpent of brass.  It is a long track and has a lot to live up to after the great opening track.  There are some very nice melodies, many of which have a Spock's Beard feel, which is no bad thing, yet perhaps it is just a little too long because my attention slipped a few times.  In a 'live' environment it would probably work but the recoded version could maybe do with some judicious editing to ensure that (my) interest is maintained by pulling the interesting bits together.  However, that is my opinion - the band thought differently, and so may you.

Olivet is based on Matthew 24:1-313 and like so much of the Bible (and for that matter, other religious books and texts), open to interpretation.  The keys sound on this one has an early Camel feel.

The Grace Of God, like the other pieces, has a nice melody but is more of a straightforward song instrumentally, like an ELO ballad albeit with a very religious theme.

The Brass Serpent is enjoyable even if it couldn't be described as a groundbreaking album. Those without a Christian or even a religious 'bent' can ignore or consider the lyrics a story if they need to though, I have to say that, the last track would not be out of place in a forward worshipping church on any Sunday of the year.

Jem Jedrzejewski




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