Code of Silence: Dark Skies Over Babylon

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Code of Silence: Dark Skies Over Babylon
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Code of Silence: Dark Skies Over Babylon
Hard Rock, Heavy Metal
Mausoleum Records
April 9th, 2013
Release length: 1:00:43
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Code of Silence is a recently formed Heavy Metal band that hails from London, England. The five piece, featuring guitarist Ben Randall (ex-Power Quest), keyboardist Scott McLean (Falloch), and vocalist Gus Monsanto (Astra, Symbolica), as well as John Clelland on drums, and James Murray on bass. With roughly two years as a group under their belt, they happen to find themselves signed to Mausoleum Records for their debut full-length album, Dark Skies Over Babylon. But, is this an album full of promise, or is it hindered by what could best be described as simple growing pains?

Right away, it’s obvious that Code of Silence is going with a slightly rougher eighties quality, which does accentuate the group’s focus on a traditional Heavy Metal sound. The guitars have varied metallic distortions that can sometimes be a bit too thin and tinny, but surprisingly sharp due to it. There also are times where an acoustic effect is used, but that’s heavily limited. The bass is pretty rich, coming through at a decent level that doesn’t cause it stand out too much, but still makes its presence felt. The clean singing is actually a little lower in volume, carrying a nice echo effect. But, this also means that when the music picks up, the vocals get a little drowned out, but not enough that you can’t hear them or make out the lyrics. And then there’s the drumming, having a deeper thickness to the snares that is complimented by the crisp, slightly distant cymbals, and the click of the bass kicks that, while also a little lower in volume, are still sharp enough to be heard despite how masked they may end up being.

Things kick off with he darker instrumental “Omertà,” throwing your expectations off. Starting out with rain against church bells and medievil sounds, it grows a bit hopeful with the simpler keyboard score and distant drums. Of course, that gloomy tone is virtually wiped as you go through the album. “Sky is Falling Down” is basically an example of what the eighties were capable of. The song’s mid-tempo, somewhat lighter performance is easy to kick back with, but also to get wrapped up in. Much of the song has plenty of hooks, but it ends up a high quality track that makes it impossible to not bob your head along to. “Knights of the Crimson Cross” ends up a largely melodic track with a quicker speed. This allows some additional complexity in the chords, and a richer keyboard presence that adds to the enthusiastic performance.

But, for as many rich and melodic Metal fused tracks as there are, there’s plenty that don’t rely on complexity, or a heavy amount of melody. “Seventh Seal” takes on a grittier approach that presents a backalley touch to the Rock oriented elements. Like many others, the song has it’s share of catchy hooks, but the thing that stands out is the deeper, twangy bass guitar that, despite the solos and somewhat technical riffs, this instrument really becomes the driving force behind it all, even playing up the aforementioned environment perfectly. This approach does show up again in the song “Black Abyss,” but the impact it makes isn’t as vital to the song’s progression, though still ends up a solid track. Then there’s “Dark Skies Over Babylon,” a duet piece that that seems more like a Rock ballad than anything. The music is definitely a little more emotional, and the male singing is right on par with the atmosphere. The female singing, however, is simply beautiful, and extremely underused, showing up as if random sometimes until the very end where they wrap things up.

Sadly, for as well as the singing works out in “Dark Skies Over Babylon,” and many others, the vocals can sometimes seem a bit off. “Bitter Sweet Paradise” does show this at times, but largely during the acoustic passages that push the higher nasal singing more than the faster bridges and chorus. While the song isn’t the greatest, being a catchy track that is only really memorable for its chorus due to the dramatic shifting that occurs, the slightly off vocals obviously don’t help matters. Thankfully, these are really the only major problems to be had with this album, and they seem to just get out of the way right at the very beginning.

Dark Skies Over Babylon is a good album, but Code of Silence definitely still has room to grow. A lot of the material ends up rather simple, sticking more to a mid-tempo pace or slower. While those offer up a good deal of emotion, they don’t always grab the listener the way the faster songs have a tendency of doing. That being said, this is still a superb example of eighties Hard Rock and Heavy Metal coming together for an uplifting, sometimes emotional experience that will have you coming back time and time again, though better suiting to the rare moments you get to just sit back and get lost in the positive vibes this effort gives off. Code of Silence definitley put together an enjoyable debut, making it obvious that they can only continue to grow and delighting fans from this point on.

01. Omertà – 1:51
02. Bitter Sweet Paradise – 5:27
03. Sky Is Falling Down – 3:50
04. Tame the Tempest – 6:31
05. Dark Skies Over Babylon – 7:30
06. Seventh Seal – 6:08
07. Witches of November – 5:12
08. Black Abyss – 5:53
09. Knights of the Crimson Cross – 5:06
10. Midnight Cathedral (Veritas) – 6:44
11. Here to Heaven – 6:31
Initial Pressing Score: 8/10

Code of Silence (band)
Code of Silence

Digital review copy of this release provided by Mausoleum Records via Rock ‘n Growl Promotions.