Fires of Babylon - s/t 2.5/5

Reviewed: 9-26-08





Tracklist:

1. Falling to pieces
2. Devilution
3. When the kingdom comes
4. Lake of fire
5. Holy resurrection
6. Going through changes
7. Lazarus rising
8. Revolution coming
9. Generation of destruction
10. Castles are burning


Fires of Babylon is a new band/side project consisting most notably of Rob Rock (vocals) and Lou St. Paul of Winters Bane (guitars). The band describes themselves as "1980's style, shredding heavy metal reincarnated." I wouldn't argue with that description. Rob Rock's last few solo CDs have been terrific, so I was enthused to hear this. Sadly, this falls short of Rock's stellar solo material, due mainly to a bit of blandness in songwriting. Still, for the more ardent fans of Rob Rock and this style of music, it's worth checking out.

Stylistically, this is a more aggressive, heavy style of power metal than Rock's more straightforward solo material. The production is quite good, especially the guitars which have a satisfying heaviness. I'm not as enthusiastic over the recording of Rock's vocals. His voice sounds slightly squeezed or filtered in some way. It's almost as if his vocals are coming out of a smaller, tinny speaker. It's a subtle thing, but it bothers me a bit.

In comparison to Rock's solo material, these songs are faster and more in an overt power metal style. Since I generally prefer this style, I thought Fires of Babylon would be a slam dunk. The problem is that the songs are just not that stellar. That's not to say they're bad - in fact, I don't think there are any poor songs on the CD. But, I also don't really think any show greatness. There are catchy riffs, memorable vocal lines, and shredding guitars. But, I keep finding myself wishing I was listening to the stronger material on Rock's solo works when listening to this. The lyrics have a Christian theme, so be warned if that sort of thing doesn't float your boat.

Highlights for me include "Falling to pieces", which has one of the better choruses on the CD. I also enjoy "When the kingdom comes", which has some cool riffing. "Going through changes" is a faster track with cool guitar work and a memorable chorus. There are some lowlights as well. "Devilution" in addition to being a silly title, isn't a strong track. "Lake of fire" has a cool enough verse, but the chorus is slow, drawn out, and dull. "Generation of destruction" and "Castles are burning" close the CD out in a fairly strong, aggressive manner.

Perhaps the strongest compliment I can give to this CD is that it has grown on me with repeated listens. My initial impression was that while the playing and style were well done, the songs bored me to tears. After repeated listens though, I have been enjoying the CD more and more. I still only give this a half-hearted recommendation since you've probably heard Rob Rock singing much better material than this. Still, if the songwriting clicks with you more than it did with me, you'll probably curse me for rating it slightly above "average", so judge for yourself.



JOHN




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