Babylon A.D.: ‘Revelation Highway’

Released on November 10, 2017 (Frontiers Music Srl)

When it was announced earlier this year that Bay Area rockers Babylon A.D. would be releasing an album of new material, I have to admit I was pretty stoked. I have followed this band pretty much since their debut album. I can honestly say that there is not one piece of material that this band has done that I have not enjoyed. Of course there may be those that could say the American Blitzkrieg album was a slight departure from the band’s previous work, but let’s not forget at the time of that album’s release, the music industry was in pure shambles. Napster had just made its way on the scene. All music was highly accessible via the internet. I will say this and trust me there are those that may not like it, but I highly respect Metallica and Lars Ulrich for taking on Napster at the time. It was their music. To have someone just take it without the band’s permission was a purely a justifiable fight on Metallica’s part. Unfortunately, even though Metallica won the fight, the industry has never recovered fully.

In terms of American Blitzkreig, I can understand how a band like Babylon A.D. would try something different. It wasn’t until the mid 2000’s that bands of the ’80s/’90s genre would once again get the respect they so deserved. In my eyes, the late ’90s/early 2000’s was a throw away in terms of mainstream music. You had those poppy rock bands with minimal talent or the heavy bands that incorporated rap into the songs. The guitar playing was one dimensional, as well as the songwriting. It wouldn’t be long before these bands would be gone, making way for the so called “hair bands” to be respected once again.

This is where Italian record label Frontiers comes into the equation. This is a label that is releasing at least four albums per month of straight ahead rock. I thank my lucky stars every day for this label. Why is this you may ask?  Well, the production is always stellar, the packaging is brilliant and they know how to appeal to the masses with their top notch marketing skills. In terms of the marketing, it goes as follows — generally, they will announce the release of the album, than they will release the first song which is highly accessible on YouTube. A video may follow. A couple weeks later, a few more songs appear on YouTube. Maybe another video. It really leads up to the release of the album. You listen to those few songs many times over. It leaves the buyer wanting more. It’s at this time, that you are so inclined to go on Amazon and pre-order the album with hopes of it arriving on release day.

With all this said, this brings us back to Babylon A.D. where Frontiers just recently released the band’s latest album Revelation Highway. Let me tell you, this is without a doubt one of my favorite releases of the year.

The album starts off with “Crash And Burn”, an in your face rocker that captures the pure intensity of this great band. Singer Derek Davis sounds exactly as he did back in 1992. The man has not lost a step. The guitars of John Matthews and Ron Freschi are tight. There are times when the two play the same guitar part together, but then in the chorus for instance, an accented guitar part is heard that follows the vocal line with the other guitar keeping the rhythm going. Lyrically, I can totally relate. For those who love driving fast on a hot summer day with the sun beating down, windows lowered, tunes cranked and of course, girl by your side, this song is the perfect avenue for such a task. It’s pure adrenaline at its finest. “Fool On Fire” begins with a bright sounding acoustic guitar, after a few bars, Davis comes in sounding ever so desperate. A guitar fill is heard underneath as the band builds into the bridge. A great guitar line follows Davis’ vocal on this section. The part stands out so much. It’s one of those guitar lines that stick in your head. You know the one that you can sing along to. This bridge is a perfect seg-way into an ever so stellar chorus. Davis’ desperation on this track gives me chills. This song is such an infectious piece artistic genius. I hear elements of Aerosmith and Guns N’ Roses within, but these are subtle references. It still sounds very much like Babylon A.D. if that makes sense.

“One Million Miles” is one of those surprising tracks. Something that maybe you wouldn’t expect. A slower, melodic song with so much texture. The intervaled guitar lines really add to the second portion of the verse. Once again, the guitar throughout the chorus stands out. The slow, steady back beat of bassist Robb Reid and drummer James Pacheco gives this composition the easy feeling that the song needs. The guitar solo is very memorable. A true ’70s sounding line. “Tears” is the first of four songs on the album that originally appeared on the Persuaders/Babylon A.D. demos.  This song starts out with a very beautiful guitar intro that Davis then sings over top of. That guitar line has the same, soft, organic feel of “Shot Of Love” from the band’s debut album. At the one minute mark in the song, the band kicks in. I kind of attribute this in a metaphoric manner. That intro to me is like in the Fate Of The Furious that I watched this past weekend. Vin Diesel is cruising along, he’s losing the race, he needs a little bit more, so he pushes that button, giving him that little boost of nitrous that propels his car forward quickly. Once again, a song that drives purely on adrenaline. “She Likes To Give It”, begins with a very slow, distorted guitar line with the ride cymbal heard behind. As the vocals come in, Davis is heard singing over top of this accompanying intro guitar line. The guitar line continues into the chorus, but the dynamics of the band keep the song from sounding mundane. In the second verse, that guitar line is heard in the first portion, but that’s where it changes slightly. A bridge is heard leading into the chorus this time. As a great guitar solo is heard, the band breaks it down, with Pacheco pounding on the floor tom. The melodic guitar leads add to the build as they periodically play off of Davis’ soft, sensual vocal phrasings.

As much as I have loved the album so far, this is where it really starts to heat up for me. “Rags To Riches” starts with Pacheco hitting the toms back and forth, then going into the hit hat/snare combo as Reid comes in accompanying him on the bass. Slowly the band builds up, A guitar is chugging along, soon another guitar is heard with a higher pitched, melody laden progression. This build up really makes you feel good. It really makes you anticipate the coming verse. The combo of verse into chorus is perfectly executed. Leading up to the guitar solo, that melodic intro guitar part is heard again, which makes way to a great guitar solo using the wah. All I can say about this track is… Wow!!!

“Last Time For Love” is a track that I think pushes the envelope slightly. The intro is very different from the general format of normal songwriting. It starts with a slow melodic guitar line that builds up into the full band coming together. But it doesn’t start yet. The verse doesn’t start until the 1:11 mark of the song. Before this, the band actually builds into the chorus slowly. It’s really cool to hear something so fresh, exciting and different. Once the verse finally appears, there is a catchy vocal part beneath that has a very ’50s vocal feel to it. Being that I love old ’50s/’60s vocals, this really hits me straight between the eyes. It’s got that Four Seasons feel to it, but with a hard rock vibe musically. Very different. Being that this is another of those Persuaders songs from the demo, I can’t even begin to fathom why Arista Records would leave this off the debut album. It shows the pure talent of the band. It shows depth and versatility within. Taking various influences and incorporating them together to make one hell of a good song.

“I’m No Good For You” is the last of the four Persuaders songs from the infamous demo I have spoke of repeatedly throughout. A great, rocking track that has a great drive to it. I love the sing along vocals throughout with not just Davis carrying the song vocally, but the band all vocalizing together. “Saturday Night” really keeps this explosive album moving. Babylon A.D. have always been able to write those songs that if I was writing them myself, I’d want to hear. Confusing? Not trying to be, but as I listen I hear all the elements that I myself love in produced music. Great vocal phrasing, killer guitar tones, hard hitting drum intros, fantastic bottom end, subtle breakdowns, fabulous dynamics etc. I really could go on forever. The verse to this song is moving, it makes you feel like it’s party time… no pun intended but, “On A Saturday Night.” It may not be all serious, but when it comes to music, I don’t want serious all the time. I love the drums behind on the chorus. The background vocals are right in your face sounding aggressively fun.

“Don’t Tell Me Tonight” may have one of the coolest guitar intros I have heard in a very long time. I sometimes say to myself when I hear a song like this for the first time — “Why can’t everyone writes songs like this?” It’s what I want to hear. It doesn’t necessarily work that way all the time though, but when it comes to Babylon A.D., that’s what they do. They write great songs that give you a feeling of forgetting everything else when you’re listening. I had this song cranked in my car, driving down the 115 highway in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada this past Saturday. It made me want to speed. I didn’t listen to it just once either. I must have listened to the song three times in a row. Now that’s a great song. What a way to end off an album.

As I close off, I will put it bluntly, Revelation Highway is a must have for any fan of pure, adrenalized hard rock. I will leave it at that!!!

Track List:
01. Crash And Burn
02. Fool On Fire
03. One Million Miles
04. Tears
05. She Likes To Give It
06. Rags To Riches
07. Last Time For Love
08. I’m No Good For You
09. Saturday Night
10. Don’t Tell Me Tonight

Band Members:
Derek Davis – vocals, keyboards, acoustic guitar
Ron Freschi – guitar, vocals
John Matthews – guitar, vocals
Robb Reid – bass, vocals
James Pacheco – drums, percussion

Produced, Mixed & Mastered by Derek Davis

Band Websites: 
Official Website

Babylon A.D.‘s “Million Miles Away” video:

Babylon A.D. – “One Million Miles” (Official Video)

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Babylon A.D.‘s “Crash And Burn” video:

Babylon A.D. – “Crash And Burn” (Official Video)

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Babylon A.D.‘s “I’m No Good For You” video:

Babylon A.D. – “I’m No Good For You!” (Official Music Video)

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Babylon A.D.‘s “Rags To Riches” song:

Babylon A.D. – “Rags to Riches” (Official Audio)

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