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Reviews » [Review] Babylon (Jpn) - Farewell [EP] (1991)
  • 4
  • Dazzling - 92%

    Babylon came about when the severely underrated group Hellen disbanded for the first time, and guitarist Yasumitsu Shimizu wanted to continue the magic of his former band, but for whatever reason only managed to put out one EP called Farewell... (the other one which came before Farewell, Riding the Storm contained four of the same tracks that appear on this EP) before the project disappeared into history. As a collector of Japanese heavy metal, it's an absolute dream to get the opportunity to hear releases that are so rare that I honestly believed I would never actually encounter them; the original copies of this are a holy grail in the realm of Japanese metal collectibles, this elusiveness upholding until the lucky break where the label that put out the original pressing, Mandrake Root remastered and reprinted it, literally just before going out of business, and oh man, they couldn't have picked a better thank you to those who supported them all the years they were in business than to give Babylon's Farewell back to the fans of the Japanese heavy metal scene.

    If you happen to be familiar with Hellen, then you already know that Yasumitsu Shimizu is a damn wizard on a guitar, if not, then you're in for a treat. Honestly, Shimizu is right there in the same tier of Japanese traditional heavy metal guitarists as Akira Takasaki, Taiji Fujimoto, Hideaki Nakama, and Kyoji Yamamoto, and he demonstrates his ridiculous skill to the fullest here. This EP is overflowing with fluttery majestic guitar solos, crushing aggressive riffs, blistering speed, and a beautifully dramatic atmosphere to pull it all together. I can only (and I think fairly safely) assume that Shimizu has done all of the songwriting here, because there are absolutely no bands in Japan that sound this much like Hellen instrumentally, and that is where the rest of the members come in to give this band its unique identity.

    I could easily shower praises on Shimizu for the whole review, but that wouldn't be even remotely fair, because Babylon's other members are also spectacular musicians. First, the bass on this release is not buried behind everything, Takanobu Kimoto's riffs are quite complex and prominent, and it's no wonder he's found work as the bassist of several notable bands since this project. Atsuhiko Shinoda's drumming has a very mighty and powerful feeling, which contributes to the dramatic atmosphere of Farewell that I had mentioned earlier. Finally, there's vocalist Kaoru Ōkouchi to complete the package. Ōkouchi has an odd style, with a prominent nasally tone matched with a highly powerful voice and diverse range, and when he sings in a lower tone, he actually sounds quite a bit like Tatsunori Matsumoto of Wolf from time to time, but again, with the nasallyness (yes, that's a new word) his voice certainly won't be for everyone, but it really has grown on me.

    Though Farewell is a mere 5 songs, Farewell is plain and simply spectacular, it being as rare as it is, combined with the superb collection of musicians performing on it is everything I had hoped it would be and then some, it's just a shame they didn't end up making more music than this. I highly, highly recommend that any fans of the Japanese heavy metal scene check this out, especially any of you fellow Hellen fans out there, this is a great release, and it can even be purchased at a very fair price thanks to Mandrake Root's generous reprint.

    Written by TadakatsuH0nda, re-posted from the Metal Archives.
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