Gemini Five - Babylon Rockets
Deadline Records
Sleaze Rock / Metal
12 songs (45:17)
Release year: 2005
Reviewed by Mike

Gemini Five is a Swedish foursome that surprisingly, is heavily influenced by the 1980’s glam scene in LA. When I think of Swedish metal bands, something along these lines doesn’t immediately come to mind, but I’ll certainly take it for what it is; decent party / glam rock that isn’t commonly heard these days. Babylon Rockets is the band’s debut album, released here in the States on Deadline Records.

First and foremost, Gemini Five seem to place a great importance on image. Just check out the animated cover art and liner notes for all the proof you need. They’ve even given themselves “rock star” nicknames: Tin Star (vox), “Hot” Rod Teilmann (bass), Snoopy (guitars), and Slim Pete (drums). Take your pick of any old school party bands such as Motley Crue, LA Guns, or Faster Pussycat and you’ll see that Gemini Five are borrowing quite a lot from that school of imagery.

As for their music, Gemini Five are playing sleazy glam rock, very much in the vein of the aforementioned bands. Thick rhythms and crunchy riffs form the backbone of the songs. I’ve been through this album numerous times, and the most recognizable song on the album for me is still the cover of Dead or Alive’s You Spin Me Round (Like a Record). Granted, the guys do a great job covering this 80’s pop hit, and adding more life and energy to it. But, a cover tune shouldn’t be one of the most memorable moments from the album. As a band, your original material must stand up on its own. This cover tune is even placed at the number 3 spot on the album, which indicates to me that even those involved in the creation of this album value the cover tune more than a majority of the band’s original work. Aside from the title track (leadoff track), Twenty Four Seven (second track), and Get it Off(fifth track), I find the rest of the tunes decent, but frustratingly unmemorable. From a musical standpoint, the guys play their parts very well, no complaints there. The problem is that the majority of songs fail to really catch the listener’s ear. The album just goes by without demanding to be noticed. For me, the music has little personality or feeling. I do think this has something to do with the band trying to be something they’re not; more on that later. If I heard any of these tracks on the radio, I’d listen to the song, but wouldn’t feel motivated to learn more about the band or hear more of their work. A sticker on the front of this CD claims, “A must have for fans of Backyard Babies, Motley Crue, & Hanoi Rocks.” The problem is, these old school bands have done what Gemini Five is attempting to do much better. Like I said, this isn’t a bad album, especially for a debut. However, the band can’t claim to be carrying the torch of this genre into the new millennium from these old school bands at this early point in their career.

I would like to comment on the production and overall sound of this album. It seems as if the band has worked very hard to establish a retro, 80’s hard-ass image ala Motley Crue, and their song structures are well planted in 80’s glam and party rock. However, they’ve decided to take that sound and apply “modern” production it, complete with down tuned guitars and even some sporadic electronic influences. I find this to be a conflict to say the least. One minute, the album sounds like it wants to be a testosterone infused, ass kicking party rock album from yesteryear, but a catatonic modern rock album the next. For example, songs like Hardcore and the sappy ballad Chemicals Between Us are clearly aimed for modern rock radio. I suppose that’s why the band went with a modern sounding production for the entire album. It sounds like the band is a true party / glam rock band at heart, but have manufactured their sound in such a way to try and sound relevant in today’s world, and to hopefully gain mainstream attention. That just doesn’t work for me.

Despite some of the criticisms I’ve noted on Babylon Rockets, I do think there is some promise here. The guitar work is above average, and the vocalist is great fit for the style of the band. The guys seem to have passion for their music, but it seems like they are trying to manufacture a sound instead of just playing some kick ass party / glam rock. Concentrate less on establishing an image and appealing to the “in” modern rock radio crowd. I’d like to hear what the guys come up with in the future. If they can focus 100% on playing music that is true to who they want to be (not on images or the allure of making it to radio/MTV), I think the result would be quite interesting.

Killing Songs :
Twenty Four Seven, Get It Off
Mike quoted 55 / 100
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