Babylon Mystery Orchestra - Divine Right of Kings
Self released
Gothic Politically Charged Rock
10 songs (47'03")
Release year: 2002
Babylon Mystery Orchestra
Reviewed by Alex

The expectations were very high going in. Intriguing concept with the music “built on power metal with a good amount of string accompaniment”. At least this is what Babylon Mystery Orchestra promo sheet says. Those promo sheets can be deceiving, you know. I guess Sidney Allen Johnson and I see things differently and it is safe to say I don’t like his vision.

After a dark and gloomy intro (A Habitation of Devils), the album kicks in with We Are Power. The whole song is pretty much one riff composed out of two or three sludgy chords. Drumming is done by a machine which provides about as much excitement as an academic PBS show after a couple of sleeping pills. I can’t call the vocals singing. It is more like speaking or reciting mantra words to the music with the impression that the speaker “crossed over to the other side”. Midway solo somewhat breaks the monotony, but doesn’t save anything. OK, I thought to myself, the whole album can’t be like this, the band will find its groove. Well, Road to Madness provides less sludginess in the chords, and a slight acoustic guitar touch, but it is still of the same repetitive nature. The sludgy chords return on Whore, but with the gothic slant this time, because of the string section which sounds synthesized for some reason. I am not going to describe the rest – it is all the same with the little exception of a coffee shop ballad Save My Soul and the Therion-inspired orchestral instrumental closer Crestfallen (which is the only song on the CD I liked).

Befuddled by this “power metal” display, I went on the band site to do some research. Turns out Babylon Mystery Orchestra is a one-man band. Sidney Allen Johnson is everything: songwriter, musician, producer, lyricist. Dio and Judas Priest influences are cited, but I would bet my house if Mr. Johnson shows me where they are. It is not about labels, however (as a matter of fact I have mightily struggled to name the style of this music). As long as music is good we can call it whatever. To me this sounds like a never ending minimalistic portion of Pink Floyd’s The Wall or one really long Sisters of Mercy song. Over the last few weeks I have reviewed bands that use some repetition in their music. BMO is nowhere near as gripping and multilayered as Summoning, and the melodies (a few that are actually there) are nowhere as tragic and penetrating as Shape of Despair. These bands are not meant to be compared with BMO per se, but are referenced only to show that not all that is repetitive is bad. Maybe if Mr. Johnson decides to add on in terms of band members he will at least have somebody to bounce off an idea or two. As of now Divine Right of Kings sounds extremely underdeveloped. Heck, at least get a drummer as this drum machine is plain awful. It isn’t all about the few strummed riffs and sharp lyrics.

Just like Pink Floyd, Babylon Mystery Orchestra has socially and politically charged lyrics. According to the album United States of America is a modern Babylon on its way to self-destruction. It is safe to say that Mr. Johnson is less than enamored with America’s perceived greed, quest for dominating power, imperfect and intolerant school system, corporate structure and idolization of stars. I really get the message after the word “whore” is repeated on eponymous song 24 times. I’ll debate philosophical points in a second, but why don’t you write an essay if you feel you have something to say. Why go for the MUSIC album?

One of my Metalreviews brethren recently called me The Philosopher, so I will indulge myself. The US society is far from perfect, yes. I invite Mr. Johnson to visit a few other places in the world, however, before he predicts all gloom and doom. A place where I am from would do just fine for him to broaden his views. Now, is “quest for power” that bad? As I recently told the group I entirely disagree. If it is the good and decent people who seek it, I can only encourage that. Everyday we are trying to empower ourselves. By reading a book, by going to work, by earning a few $$, by researching Mother Nature. To quote one good friend of mine: “I would rather obtain the power and graciously not use it, than desperately seek it and not get it in the end, only to fall victim to those dark souls who got there first.”

The hardest part of this review was to give an album a quote. Should it be a low one if I entirely disagree with what’s presented? I’d rather give you all the info on where to get the CD, so you can make your own judgment. I am leaving the quote field a blank.

Babylon Mystery Orchestra, 610 Flowers St. Greenville, AL 36037. $13 is all it takes to own this.

Killing Songs :
Alex quoted ?? / 100
Other albums by Babylon Mystery Orchestra that we have reviewed:
Babylon Mystery Orchestra - The Great Apostasy reviewed by Alex and quoted 57 / 100
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