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Babylon holds the distinction of being the best-sounding album of Savage's late-'90s comeback, perhaps their entire career, actually, since both of their most famous '80s efforts, on Ebony Records, were hardly "Mutt" Lange production jobs, if you catch the drift. Musically, however, the tables were oddly turned, since so much of the Mansfield power trio's distinctive sound was in fact dependent on those lo-fi heavy metal characteristics. Yes, all this is mostly proof that critics are never happy, but keep in mind that Metallica were big fans of those less-than-sparkling albums of old, too, or else they wouldn't have chosen Savage's rough-hewn classic "Let It Loose" as one of their earliest covers. At any rate, enough with the window-dressing, as it's time to consider the actual contents of Babylon -- from the rather groovy, Saxon-reminiscent title track, to the driving riffs and surprisingly listenable choruses of "Temple of Deceit" and "TV Nation." Opener "Space Cowboy" features something of an anomaly in the unusually low-end vocal delivery employed by Chris Bradley, but its economically sharp arrangements, and even sharper soloing from guitarist Andrew Dawson (later heard on additional standout "No Ordinary Day," among others), help shed light on where Savage were hoping to take this growing Thin Lizzy obsession of theirs. Sadly, their very next effort, Xtreme Machine, would find them swerving backward to a harder and less refined direction -- something which clearly no longer suited their talents. Pity, because barring the fact that it sounds most unlike the Savage fans know, Babylon is quite an interesting and promising album unto itself.

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