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BABYLON

Babylon

 

Symphonic Prog

3.88 | 79 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Babylon: Babylon [1978]

Rating: 7/10

This sole album from Floridian band Babylon is one of the strangest within the symphonic prog genre. This album's weirdness isn't a result of the musical style; this is keyboard-driven, Genesis-influenced progressive rock with hard-rock flourishes. What makes Babylon bizarre is the overall tone of their music. This tone is mostly the result of Doroccus, the lead vocalist. This guy sounds like what Peter Gabriel would sound like if he overdosed on LSD and became the ringmaster of some sort of dark circus. The bizarrely brilliant lyrics add to his persona, sounding more like something on a Captain Beefheart album than on a symph-prog release: 'Seems me and my partners were caught up in a tree/Is it such a crime, we cried, to pose for pornographic pictures?/In this dog-eat-dog world, where they drag your face in mud/Is it such a crime, dear sirs, to shoot people between the eyes?' This strange brew results in an unusually dark release that is unfortunately overlooked.

The first few minutes of the opener 'The Mote in God's Eye' constitute some of the best on the album. Brooding keyboards back up vocals that manage to be both understated and theatrical. The track gets more fast-paced, and the synth tones remain superb. The vocals on 'Before the Fall' are a bit softer. I love the guitar/keyboard harmonizing here, and the conclusion is magnificent, sounding like some sort of cosmic horror-film soundtrack. 'Dreamfish' is probably the most Genesis-esque track here. Great synth work abounds yet again, and the manic vocal section in the latter half is one of my favorite moments on the album. 'Cathedral of the Mary Ruin' returns to the broodiness, and even throws in some jazzy piano.

Babylon's music is intriguing because it manages to twist its influences into something distinct. This album sounds like Genesis, but it doesn't feel like Genesis. This ability to bring a unique feel to stylistically similar music is what makes this album so interesting. The songs are well-crafted, and the musicianship is excellent. As stated before, the synth tones are spot-on; there are certain synth lines here that creature pure exultation within me. I suppose my main complaint with Babylon's self-titled is the fact that the band doesn't quite mange to instill enough emotional significance within the music in order to truly catalyze the dark tone. Regardless, though, this is an excellent work. Sifting though the obscure Genesis/Yes-influenced prog records that came out during the 70s can be a daunting task, but be sure not to let this be passed by. It's unfortunate that Babylon never released anything else.

Anthony H. | 4/5 |

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