Friday, August 11, 2006

heaven can wait

babylon whores - 'cold heaven'

released: august 11th, 1997
running time: 36'36"
misanthropy records

songs: 1. deviltry 2. omega therion 3. beyond the sun 4. metatron 5. enchiridion for a common man 6. in arcadia ego 7. babylon astronaut 8. flesh of a swine 9. cold heaven

The Babylon Whores are (were? We'll get to that in a minute) a very unique band, springing from the black metal-dominated Northern European underground of the mid-90s. Perhaps as a reaction to that, they have proudly slapped on the back cover of this debut record the term 'death rock'.While uncharacteristic for a band to label themselves like that, especially for an intelligent band such as this, that statement of intent does make sense. Even if the sly, caustic sense of humour of these Finns makes it impossible to know how tongue-in-cheek this labeling really was, the fact is that 'Cold Heaven' holds the true spirit of rock, somewhat lost in the decade in which it was released. Vocalist/founder Ike Vil is, appropriately enough, with his frankly brilliant dense croon, a sort of Elvis gone demonic or Jim Morrison gone metal. Throughout these 9 songs (8, really, because the title track is a creepy keyboard-only epilogue), Ike and the rest of the band touch Samhain/Danzig, MC5 and The Sisters Of Mercy while building their own distinctive, punked up sound.

The songs will seem simple at first, but after several repeated listens (which will come at no effort at all, so catchy the hooks manage to be) all the subtleties will begin to surface. The meaty riffs, the creative bass lines, the aforementioned singing, all sitting on a solid production, all of it helps to bring out the fabulous, cohesive and addictive songwriting. While the album is consistent in style, there is some variation too. 'Deviltry' is thrashy and rough, a perfect opener, In Arcadia Ego' is slow and melodic, while 'Enchiridion For A Common Man' is just plain sticky with its great chorus.

And then, the lyrics. Littered with philosophical and occult references, it would take several posts (and some years of study) to go through all that's touched upon here, but the seriousness with which the pagan ideology is put across makes the album undismissable in that respect. Yet, despite their obvious knowledge of such issues, they never cross the line of pretentiousness, bringing everything back to the dirt of death rock, like in 'Metatron', for example: given to waning moon / septuagint whispers of impending doom / cautes and cautopates / a shit load of bad ass deities. Apparently, this interest in the occult was present during the writing process. There are rumors bass lines being recorded without knowing the guitar lines, of the numbers (sound output values and whatnot) involved in the mixing process being chosen by their numerology meaning, and of course the total length of the album, 36 minutes and 36 seconds.

As you can see, there is much more to 'Cold Heaven' than might meet the eye at first. This also applies to the band itself, their cloak of mystery was never really truly lifted. On the contrary, after two more equally brilliant records, 'King Fear' and 'Death Of The West', the Babylon Whores vanished. The end of the band was never officially proclaimed, but recent attempts on my part to reach any of the members for an interview have been met with polite declining. The last known public announcement by the band was made sometime in late 2003 on their now-offline website, on which it read, after some vaguely incomprehensible lines, we'll meet again some sunny day.

Well, I sure hope so.

the good: brilliant songwriting - incredibly complex songs that sound very simple, profound lyrics injected with a subtle sense of humour, the whole aura of mystery around the record
the bad: we might never hear from them again


  1. this is one of my favorite bands. seriously one of the most badass bands ever.

  2. Asbolutely one of the most overlooked bands of recent times. Cold Heaven, Deggael and King Fear never get old for me... i have them lined up to play right now, with a nice bottle of red wine to accompany.
    For I could die on an alleyway, with a smile on my lips for all my yesterdays.