Test Dept.

Pax Britannica
Jungle / Ministry of Power


Another not-too popular album in Test Dept.‘s mighty canon that is also one of my favorites. This album is a grand live affair that pairs the band’s martial drumming and industrial clanging with an actual symphony orchestra and choir. From the Test Dept. website:

Part soundtrack to the epic ‘Second Coming’ show which celebrated Glasgow as the cultural capital of Europe 1990, performed at the St. Rollox Railway Works, once the largest producer of trains in the British Empire.

It features a score from John Eacott played by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and conducted by the celebrated scottish composer James MacMillan.

Many regard this album’s concept as flawed or perhaps the execution didn’t jell at this recorded gig. In any event, it is a telling in five movements of the rise and fall of the British Empire, told with spoken oratories by the band, samples of Winston Churchill, Margeret Thatcher and John Major, backed by an epic soundtrack utilizing patriotic British music (most notably Blake’s Jerusalem) . Undoubtably, it would help to see the performance and not having some sort of libretto makes it a little hard to follow and the pace lags somewhat after the third movement. It remains one of my favorites because I like how it utilizes patriotic motifs to serve as readymades to critique the imperialism of England, somewhat in the same way that Slovene band Laibach does. Although not perfect, this album is a chilling look a once mighty nation that ought to serve as a warning about imperial hubris (especially to us yanks).

Pax Britannica – 1990

  1. Movement I:
  2. Pledge, Jerusalem, Heavens Command, Characters of Light, Agincourt, Accusation
  3. Movement II:
  4. Territory (The Epic of the Race)
  5. Movement III:
  6. From the Land (As An Fhearann)
  7. Movement IV:
  8. God, King and Law
  9. The Cracked Facade
  10. Farewell the Trumpets
  11. Movement V:
  12. The Legacy (A Lasting Presence)



  1. Awesome share! I have an old Profile from the CBC’s Brave New Waves on Test Department and the sound and inspiration of the band is amazing. Thanks again

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