You have to give it to vocalist Csaba Zvekan. Like a child at a party wandering around the adults asking the same question until he gets the answer he wants, the Serbian singer keeps coming back to the metal world with his latest ‘international band’, hawking his latest set of Dio-inspired wares in the hope of some positive feedback.
This year he’s back with Tower of Babel. They’re a new power metal act that follows on the heels of previous Zvekan projects like Raven Lord, Metal Machine and Exorcism. Also back is Csaba’s perennial guitar-playing foil Joe Stump. Together the pair have put together a band designed to snare a slice of the burgeoning classic metal pie.
This means a sound that hopes to recreate the days of Dio-era Rainbow and pre-1987 Whitesnake. That, of course, a mouthwatering premise if you can pull it off. Occasionally the band does – Midnight Sun probably hits the target most centrally, although Addicted (ironically enough a song that actually sounds like it might come from Joe Lynn Turner-era Rainbow, as is the classy Once Again) is also not bad at all. But for large parts of Lake of Fire this album sounds like exactly what it is – well-intentioned journeymen going through their paces without much inspiration or fire.
Stump is a good, possibly great, guitarist, capable of firing off multiple Malmsteenesque runs for sure but better when he reins himself in and lets the melodies at his command – which are many – do the talking. Zvekan unfortunately just tries too hard. He can sing, clearly. But he needs to simply cut back on the Dioisms if he really wants to hit paydirt. A vocalist like Russell Allen hits the mark every time with Dio-style singing without ever resorting to mere mimicry. Csaba should listen and learn.
None of the songs here are horrible. In fact every track at least has one or two things of pleasant note, like the keyboard run that lights up the start of Eternal Flames, for instance. But there just isn’t enough of the player’s own personality shining through to make this interesting enough to recommend. It’s well played, for sure – and Rainbow anoraks might like to stop by for the cover of Eyes of the World – but is that enough for Tower of Babel in 2017?
Lake of Fire is out now on Lion Music