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Babylon Mystery Orchestra

Axis of Evil

Review by Gary Hill

This is really an interesting CD. The musical blend of dark gothic textures and metallic elements alongside some progressive rock sounds is one that works quite well. There’s not a weak song on the disc. If I had one complaint, though, it’s the vocals they are pretty much all delivered in a sort of distorted, spoken, growled kind of way. It’s interesting but could use a little variety. Still, there’s more than enough changeups in the music to make up for this short coming.

Looking to the lyrical structure it’s a bit of a mystery. The lyrics all seem to present a dark and brutal look at the world we live in. Much of it comes from religious points of view, but from varying ones. Either it’s Sidney Allen Johnson’s (he’s the one man responsible for every sound on the CD) way of making us look at the world through different eyes in a cynical sense or he really believes this. My guess is, it’s the first one because much of the CD seems to present conflicting viewpoints. Either way it’s something that’s sure to offend those who are looking for something to get ticked about. For the rest of it, it’s a thought provoking experience. This is an unusual album with few comparisons realistically to be made. It’s also a great disc.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Annuit Coeptis
Atmospheric keyboard oriented tones serve as the backdrop. After a time George W. Bush talks about the nation of Islam and then other voices discuss the same topic. A distorted spoken voice speaks and ends the piece.
We Ride, You Die
A killer heavy jam stomps in and a processed distorted voice serves up the spoken vocals. This is quite techno in nature, but there’s plenty of Gothic elements, too.
Devil Spawn
After a short intro a heavy grinding riff is merged with keyboard textures to great effect. This crescendos and drops back. Keys hold it til it powers back up to the main riff. The vocals are much like the ones on the previous piece, but I like the central song structure on this one more than that one. The chorus is more mysterious and evil sounding, too. At around the two and a half minute this thunders out into a faster paced, Sabbath-like jam. The vocals come in over the top of this as they carry forward. Eventually it moves back to the earlier section. At around four minutes in they pull this back to a tentative stomping segment and keyboards produce melody over the top. This is pretty, but still quite heavy and dark. Guitar solos over the top of this further down the road. Eventually the keys regain control before the song is closed out.

Islam
A choral type sung vocal with distortion is punctuated by hard edged bursts of sound. Eventually this gives way to a jam that’s a bit like something from Rob Zombie. This is actually a catchy track, despite its rather strange texture. The bass guitar really shines on this number, doing some serious showing off in the backdrop. They move out into a cool rock and roll kind of groove later.
God Given Right
A stomping metallic grind is joined by keyboards. They work their way through using this (albeit stripped down) for the backdrop for the vocals. There is a cool keyboard solo segment followed by a guitar showing.
Crusader
This made on a heavy driving motif. It’s another strong cut that might not vary a lot from the other material here, but still manages to have its own soul and spirit. There is a cool dark but beautiful keyboard based segment mid track. It’s quite sedate but the vocals are essentially the same as those on the rest of the album.
Diabolus Apocalypse
Here we get the most unusual song thus far. It alternates between moody beauty and heavy jamming. The result is a piece of Gothic beauty and darkness. It’s quite probably my favorite track on show here.

Illuminati
This track comes in with keys and pretty acoustic guitar. As other instruments rise up this really feels like dark progressive rock. The vocals are the same as those on the rest of the CD, though. It thunders out to more metallic modes for the chorus, but returns to the melodic afterwards. This is definitely another highlight of the disc.
Novus Ordo Seclorum
The opening spoken recitation is an interesting twist. “What God has torn asunder, let no man put together.” The song is a bounding, techno journey that is similar to a lot of the other music here. While the mold hasn’t been broken this song works better than the rest. It’s one of the highlights of the disc and a killer rocker.
Xenophobia
Here’s another that starts off with a progressive rock allusion. It shifts to a killer riff driven jam from there. This is a great combination of metal, prog and techno. It’s also another highlight of the disc.
Martyr (The Patience of the Saint)
This is an unusual one. It never really rises to the level of hard rock. Instead I’d probably call this one progressive rock. It’s quite elegant and pretty, but still has the trademark darkness and vocals. The guitar solo on this is especially tasty. Here is another that cut that’s definitely in contention for my favorite on the disc.
Come Drink the Wrath
He wastes no time turning things heavy here. This one stomps in with metallic thunder and plods down the road. As the vocals enter it shifts to a frantic powerhouse metal motif. They alternate between these two styles and this is one of the most purely metal songs on show here.
God Damn the Children of the Beast
The closing track is perhaps the most interesting one of all. It leads off and stays with a pretty but dark balladic motif for a good length. This is elegant and yet evil. After spending over half the track in this style they power out into a hard rocking (yet fairly mainstream) jam. The chorus they move into after a while somehow reminds me of Motley Crue’s Shout At the Devil. This segment doesn’t last long, though. Instead it ends the album. I can’t imagine a better way to close things out.
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