Great Metal Albums of 1986: Torme- Back to Babylon

When I made to move to the UK, one of the things I was hoping to discover was hot British metal bands who weren’t known in the US. I didn’t have to look far. Actually, in the case of Torme, there were a number of new friends in London who were more than happy to introduce me to the band. They didn’t need to use any persuasion to seem them live when the played at the college I was attending and when that night was over, I was a new Torme fan.

For those who might not know, apologies to those who know I’m covering familiar territory, guitarist Bernie Torme played in Gillan, (yes, that Gillan with the Deep Purple singer) and also a stint with Ozzy. So, he was already well known around the British metal circles. Therefore, it was no surprise that his new band garnered so much interest when their debut album, “Back to Babylon” appeared in 1986.

“Back to Babylon” opens on a good footing with “All Around the World.” That song definitely caught my attention as a good album opening song should. While there is no indication of which song was released as a single, if any, if a song was then my guess it would have been “Star.” It simply has that type of vibe, especially with the chorus “Do you wanna be, wanna be a star.”

If not “Star,” then another possible candidate would have been “Eyes of the World.” The chorus is sung like it could have been a single and there are some catchy guitar hooks and a blistering solo from Bernie at the end. Maybe, that was why it probably wasn’t released as a single, too much guitar work for all the Duranies out there to appreciate.

The next three songs are a combined length of less than eight minutes. However, you know each of them are there. Bernie continues his great guitar hooks on all three songs but the rest of the band show their stuff here. I’m very impressed with the rhythm section Chris Heilman and Ian Whitewood. As for the lead singer, Phil Lewis, listening to his vocals here, I am not surprised that he would go onto front LA Guns. I can now boast that I got to see him perform before he joined that band.

Side two begings with an interesting bass line from Heilman on “Family at War.” Bernie’s acoustic rhythm fits in nicely with it during the verses but then goes heavy at the choruses. It’s another one of those catchy tunes that gets your attention, especially when Bernie applies his guitar hooks in it. However, the anticipated guitar solo never comes, which is a bit of a let down. Nevertheless, it’s still a good song.

“Front Line” is more a traditional straight forward, no frills metal song. It’s definitely one to head bang to. I think this might be my song for the album. The next track, “Arabia,” is a very interesting one. It starts with Arabian sounding music mixed in with a news report about Beirut. Then it turns into a cool power rocker which hosts a cool bass line and some intricate guitar work. Though, I’m not sure about the middle of the song where it goes a bit out there with the echoing voices, but a great guitar solo comes in and things go back to what they should be. “Mystery Train” is a cool closer with an intro that gives that ‘impending doom’ feel which stays throughout the entire song, I have to give full credit to Lewis’s vocal efforts here.

Track Listing:

  1. All Around the World
  2. Star
  3. Eyes of the World
  4. Burning Bridges
  5. Hardcore
  6. Here I Go
  7. Family At War
  8. Front Line
  9. Arabia
  10. Mystery Train
Bernie Torme (I can’t find a picture of the entire band)

Bernie Torme- guitar

Phil Lewis- vocals

Chris Heilman- bass

Ian Whitewood- drums

Special guest musician: Colin Towns- keyboards

Torme showed me that there were cool bands in the UK beyond the established NWOBHM ones. This album has me questioning as to why Torme wasn’t more successful but I will always be grateful to my British friends who introduced me to this band.

Next post: Warlock- True as Steel

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