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BABYLON

Babylon

 

Symphonic Prog

3.88 | 78 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

VanVanVan
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Along with Starcastle, Babylon often get brought up as "a band that sounds like Yes." While this is certainly true, it's also a bit unfair-while Babylon has a lot of obvious Yes influences, they also have a great sound in and of themselves. Their single album, while certainly flawed, is also an awesome time-capsule of late 70s prog: certainly influenced by those that came before but also pushing ahead. If you're a fan of Yes and want to hear some relative contemporaries who were influenced by them then this is a great album for you. If, however, you're sick of bands who sound too much like classic-era Yes, you may wish to look elsewhere.

"The Mote In God's Eye" gets the album off to a bit of a slow start, with extremely minimalistic keyboards and a bit of percussion serving as the entirety of the music behind some slightly monotone vocals. This opening section of the song is extremely sparse, but it still kind of works, though it does go on a bit long. When the song really picks up, however, is about 3 minutes in, as the instrumentation fills out, the tempo picks up, and the music begins to sound almost scarily similar to Yes. Again, this isn't a bad thing; I personally have no problems with bands that sound like other bands. However, the similarity is quite astounding, with most of the instrumental music on the back half of the track sounding to me like it could have come straight off of Tales for Topographic Oceans. "The Mote In God's Eye" isn't a bad song at all, but I will admit that it's probably my least favorite of the 4 tracks that make up this album.

Unlike "The Mote In God's Eye," "Before the Fall" starts off amazingly. Immediately launching into a mysterious, psychedelic keyboard melody, the vocals are great here as well, with a lot of very good use of harmony. The extreme Yes influence of the previous track is mostly gone here as well; though there are some similarities in the synth parts it certainly doesn't come off as clone-like. Like "The Mote In God's Eye," this track is heavily keyboard-led, with several great solos appearing in the instrumental middle section of this track and towards the end as well. Especially notable is an awesome major-key reprise of the first motif that really pulls the whole song together. "Before the Fall" is a great track and if the whole album was this good it would likely be a 5-star disk.

"Dreamfish" more or less ventures back into Yes territory, with the vocals especially sounding more like Yes on this track then they have on either of the previous two. "Dreamfish" on the whole is more uptempo and overall more frenetic than the minimal "The Mote?" and the somewhat slower "Before the Fall," with the vocals practically delivered at auctioneer speed and the music equally as energetic. Even when the motif changes midway through the track it doesn't lose any steam-I'm amazed the vocalist can even breathe with how fast he's spitting out lyrics. There's a decent amount of ELP influence here as well, especially in a lot of the instrumentation, and the sheer ability of the musicians here makes me wonder what could have come of this band had they released more than one album.

"Cathedral of the Mary Ruin" finishes off this self-titled album. Beginning with a very rhythmically complex series of keyboard parts, the track calms down a bit for a dreamier vocal section which is followed by some absolutely gorgeous piano playing. The track picks up again with about 2 minutes left in the song to launch into a bombastic, ELP-esque series of solos that eventually give way to the vocals again. Unfortunately, I don't think "Cathedral of the Mary Ruin" finishes rather weakly, just kind of fading out without any real sense of resolution. I don't have a problem with the fade-out ending, but this one doesn't resolve very well and it's a little underwhelming, especially for the last track.

Personally, I find this album very enjoyable. There's enough Yes sound to be an interesting listen from an historical perspective, not to mention that for the most part the music is pretty darn good in its own right. Definitely not the most original release but still a great listen and a bit of a lost gem from the late 70s.

4/5

VanVanVan | 4/5 |

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