What a flagship to follow! 'Babylon' thrusts its mighty Metal bowsprit (yes!) into the raging sea and forges forward to battle! Hoist the mainsail and follow me, me hearties... Okay, well, the rest of the fleet are a little slow on the uptake, bearing the weight of many years of Metallic scavenging... arr...
What I mean is this: Lillian Axe first formed in the late eighties, and I remember them very well as a less-absorbing rock band from New Orleans.
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After more than twenty years, during which countless sub-genres of Metal have passed by – and, incidentally, more than twenty band members have jumped in and out of their line-up - they've emerged a better, fuller, more complete modern Metal band, indulging themselves in the fruits of Metal evolution. New singer Brian C Jones has definitely given them a fresh lease of life (even if he is called Brian).
Thus, whilst 'Babylon', the sort of glorious, straightforward, chugging Metal Megadeth would've been proud of, charges courageously into whatever vortex may lay ahead, there are elements of more explorative prog, melodic and straightup rock on the rest of the album.
'Death Comes Tomorrow' burrows deep into prog territory; 'Gather Up The Snow' is meatier Metal but with the dynamics of a more diverse animal (wicked guitar solo); and when 'The Great Divide' opens with a synth washing over its bow and a delicate acoustic guitar bringing up the rear, you have no idea this is going to burst into a strident Metal anthem, worthy of the warriors of Valhalla! (I can already hear the Ed, Steve 'Death To False Metal!' Goldby, bellowing triumphantly from the top of a very tall building).
But there are yet more victorious anthems to light a fire to and, naturally, a Metal ballad, the delightful, acoustic-led 'Bow Your Head'.
Thoroughly enjoyable Metal. Just one thing puzzles me though: why did they pinch the riff from 'Teenage Kicks' for 'Soul Disease'? Of course, this is mere trivia, as the song develops into another all-conquering anthemic beast; followed swiftly by 'Lava On My Tongue', a dirty little riff that races along like it's trying to escape the volcano (what volcano? The one that spurted lava onto his tongue, of course - how else did it get there?).
Closing with the rather beautiful, yes, anthemic 'My Apologies', this is an album that's gonna be high on my list of 'Best Ofs' in 2012. Superb, er, anthemic Metal (did I mention that before?).
The more I listen the more I like.