“This album was written during the fake Covid 19 pandemic. It is a protest against all the abuse I and many others suffered for our choice not to be injected with an experimental drug. The album is a thank you to all those brave people who said NO,” says songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jace Maxwell. Being Australian, he’s especially brave, considering how brutal lockdown restrictions there have been. Here in New York, a court threw down the unelected Governor’s unconstitutional concentration camp regulations. Australia started sending their citizens to concentration camps in 2020.
Maxwell’s eclectic tunesmithing chops match his bravery as he covers a wide range of styles, from 80s gothic rock, to bleakly cinematic soundscapes and metal. And beyond the sheer catchiness of the songs, the album is a cruelly vivid, sometimes savagely funny chronicle of the plandemic. Song after song, Maxwell refuses to comply.
The most amusing number on the record – which Maxwell has generously made available as a name-your-price download at Bandcamp – is Tony Says (Follow the Science), a parody of Faucism set to goofy, squiggly new wave synthpop.
Otherwise, the individual tracks typically focus on a specific aspect of the plandemic, from the initial lockstep reaction to the Wuhan bioweapon, to the fullscale assault on human rights, to the lethal injection rollout. Maxwell peppers his songs with sardonic samples, from Biden’s feeble “pandemic of the unvaccinated” recitation, to Pfizer ingredients and more. There’s as much history here as there are hooks.
Maxwell builds the album’s rainswept overture, The Fall of the Rebel Angels around a spoken-word passage about EcoHealth Alliance conspirator Peter Daszak‘s bizarrely pedantic attempt to cast the famous Brueghel painting as a portent of zoonotic viral spread.
The sarcasm immediately rises to redline over an icy New Order clang in Turning the Lights Down, an offhandedly chilling portrait of tyranny reaching a slow boil.
“Cover your face and check on your neighbor,” Maxwell instructs over a slinky death disco groove in You’ve Got the Fear: the lyrical jokes are too good to spoil.
He evokes a plaintively drifting mid-90s Church spacerock ambience in Please Leave, a distantly harrowing hospital protocol murder tableau. Then he hits his distortion pedal for Run for Your Life (Cytokine Storm), a grittily industrial-tinged faux-authoritarian stomp.
As the slowly swaying indictment What the Hell Andy? unfolds, Maxwell revisits the sad affair where the courageous Dr. Tess Lawrie called bullshit on how the lure of Gates Foundation money derailed a crucial ivermectin research study.
Safe and Effective is a menacing, dystopic motorik instrumental, with a break that speaks to the effectiveness of propaganda, rather than rushjob genetic modifications. The next track, IgG4 is a succinct explanation of the mechanism of “mortal antigenic sin,” as Dr. Paul Alexander calls it. Maxwell goes back to heavier and even more troubling science in Superantigen, a later interlude.
The sarcasm rises to critical mass again in Damage Control, a menacing, strutting mashup of Gang of Four and early 80s XTC. These Are the Days is not a Natalie Merchant cover but a guardedly hopeful, Bowie-esque minor-key wake-up call.
Maxwell shifts back and forth between regretful late 70s Bowie and Rammstein, maybe, in Blame and Lies, a telling and ultimately heartbreaking chronicle of the lethal injection campaign’s mounting toll. The album’s final cut, The Left Has Become the Right is not a political broadside but a bitter reflection on how meaningless party affiliations became when we’re all being deplatformed and depersoned. “Would you please close the Overton Window, I’m getting quite a chill,” Maxwell sneers.
As an indelible musical portrait of a grim time and place, this ranks with the Dead Kennedys’ Frankenchrist and Phil Ochs’ Rehearsals for Retirement. Get this album, if only for the sake of validation. It’s one of the best rock releases of 2022.