BABYLON MYSTERY ORCHESTRA


"The Godless, The Godforsaken and the Goddamned" (self-produced; 2010)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

 

I really don't care for politics or religion in my rock'n'roll, but sometimes it's tolerable. Stryper does it pretty well. Lemmy of Motorhead slips politics in now and then so subtly you hardly notice. U2 are a little heavy-handed for me and I really don't like Rage Against the Machine (gasp!). The secret, I think, is not to get too preachy, whatever it is you're singing about.

Which brings us to Babylon Mystery Orchestra's latest, the well-titled "The Godless, the Godforsaken and the Goddamned." You get a hint that something's going to be a little more intense with the sticker on the front cover that reads: "Warning: Repeated exposure to politically incorrect, insensitive and undiluted truths may lead to clear and rational thinking...USE WITH CAUTION!" And then you start to play the CD.

Whereas the previous album I reviewed, "Axis of Evil," seemed a little more subtle in its content, this new album hits you over the head like a freaking sledge hammer. The band's driving force, Sidney Allen Johnson, drills you with his hardcore stance and it isn't halfway over before you start to get weary of it all. There's no positive energy anywhere on this album; it's like sitting through an hour of election time commercials (you know the ones, where the politicians tell you all about how much their opponent sucks but never say a damn thing about the real issues at hand). Johnson does nothing but sing about the lies, the cover-ups, the evil and  the weakness of everyone he disagrees with, and he makes it clear that if you disagree as well, then you're part of the problem. It's like listening to a heavy metal album written by a conspiracy theorist. I stuck with it all the way through it but I won't listen to it again.

It's too bad, too, because - as I said in the previous review - Johnson's got an interesting voice and undeniable musical talent. But "The Godless, the Godforsaken and the Goddamned" is one hell of a giant downer.  If I want to hear this kind of negative rhetoric, I'll turn on talk radio.

I will give credit where credit is due: As on previous albums, Johnson has put together a terrific album package, with intriguing artwork and thought-provoking quotations in a 30-page thick booklet. It is quite telling, however, to see him place a quote of his own alongside the likes Winston Churchill and Karl Marx.

For more information visit http://www.babylonmysteryorchestra.com


"Axis of Evil" (self-produced; 2008)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

 

Judging from the esteemed Mr. Kelter's review below of Babylon Mystery Orchestra's 2004 album, this one is far more controversial. I'm not going to take much time to discuss why. Rather, I'll leave it like this: You may not agree with or even understand what Sidney Allen Johnson is saying here but you'll be caught up in his musical expression through well-written and performed music and scary monster vocals that are fraught with emotion.

Like "Earth as It is in Heaven," "Axis of Evil" is another concept album. As such, it is imperative that every track stand on its own alone as well as part of the overall picture. That's no problem here. From rockers like "Xenophobia" and "Crusader" to the eerier "Martyr" and "Illuminati," each song has its place and each song makes its point. (It is a little off-putting, however, how very similar "Martyr" and "Illuminati" are).

Johnson's vocal style may take a little getting used to, although I suspect fans of Type O Negative won't have any problem. It's a deep, lumbering style that seems odd at first but soon becomes one with the music. After a couple of listens to the CD, you won't be able to imagine anybody else singing these tunes at all.

Again, there are concepts here that some may find offensive. But, as I'm fond of saying, in America you don't have the right not to be offended. Everyone's entitled to their opinion. There is also the possibility here that Johnson is using these harsh words in an attempt to get us to think a little bit. It's a technique that's been used before by others with great success.

A stunning piece of work no matter how you look at it considering it's the voice, musical talent and ideas of one man: Sidney Allen Johnson.

For more information visit http://www.babylonmysteryorchestra.com


"Earth As It Is in Heaven" (self-produced; 2004)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

 

Twenty years after its first germination, Sidney Allen Johnson has brought to life his idea to tell a tale of how "rock'n'roll" existed in the biblical ages. Going by the moniker of Babylon Mystery Orchestra, Johnson has released "Earth As It Is In Heaven" to share his interesting take on this story with the world.

"Earth As It Is In Heaven" features thirteen tracks that describe the cycle of life as society was forming with religion as its unifying and divisive force. Obviously, with most stories centered around religion, the classic theme of good versus evil is rather prominent. To his credit, Sydney Allen Johnson doesn't do any preaching on "Earth As It Is In Heaven." Rather, Johnson tells this particular tale with an open mind and literally challenges the listener to form their own opinion. Most folks know that biblical tales are truths shrouded by long-standing myths; Johnson adds his unique angle to this dichotomy between myth and 'truth.'

"Earth As It Is In Heaven" is a fairly mellow affair that recalls much of what true metal aims to achieve drama in the form of words and music that hopes to paint pictures. The disc has the feel of a symphony with atmospheric elements adding the requisite underlying settling and unsettling mood. A slight touch of progressive rock/metal is almost apparent, as well. The overall sound is not too dissimilar from what Tiamat might do if they added a bit more of a rockin' sound to their recent Goth-soaked discs. While "Earth As It Is In Heaven" is a pretty decent effort, but given the rather slow pace of the songs and the disc as a whole I would have liked to hear more compact versions of the songs.

"Earth As It Is In Heaven" will appeal to Rough Edge readers who appreciate a well thought out concept album. Fans of true metal and power metal who have broad musical interests and wouldn't mind scaling down their needs for speed and full-bore crunching guitars would certainly find something to like in 

"Earth As It Is In Heaven" was produced by Sidney Allen Johnson.

Babylon Mystery Orchestra is Sidney Allen Johnson on vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, and drums.

For more information visit http://www.babylonmysteryorchestra.com


Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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Revised: 02 Oct 2017 09:17:43 -0400.