I've been an obsessed hard rock/heavy metal fan and collector since the early 1980s. If it's got a good guitar riff and attitude, I'm in.
Babylon A.D. "Revelation Highway"
Release: Frontiers Records, 2017
10 Tracks, Run Time: 43:04
Genre: Melodic hard rock/"hair metal"
San Francisco's Babylon A.D. was a good band that never quite got the "shot" they deserved back in the day. I've been a fan since I caught their first New York City gig at L'amour in Brooklyn way back in 1989, where they blew the evening's over-hyped headliners, the Sea Hags, clean off the stage. After witnessing that performance I believed that Babylon A.D. would soon be on their way to big things, but in spite of some great songs and their serious onstage firepower, it never "happened" for them back then. Maybe it was because they were signed to Arista Records, a label more familiar with marketing pop and dance music, or maybe they simply arrived at the hair metal party too late to make much of an impact. Whatever the reason, Babylon A.D.'s self titled debut album and its 1992 follow up, Nothing Sacred, are still favorites of mine and are considered cult classics by fans and collectors of obscure '80s rock.
Like many of their late '80s hard rockin' brethren, Babylon A.D. went on hiatus when the Grunge era dawned, but the band returned to active duty in the early '00s. I have been following their sporadic activity since then from afar -- I missed out on their first "comeback" album, 2000's American Blitzkrieg -- but when Babylon A.D. announced that they'd signed to the respected melodic-rock label Frontiers Records (current home of '80s favorites like Stryper, L.A. Guns, Quiet Riot, and many more) to release an all new studio album titled Revelation Highway, there was no way I was going to let it pass me by. Revelation Highway was one of my final CD purchases of 2017 (yeah, I'm one of those old-school weirdos who still buys real CDs...!) and it definitely ended my musical year on a high note. It's great to have these guys back!
"Crash and Burn"
Revelation Highway kicks off with the pedal-to-the-metal "Crash and Burn," which immediately sets a properly air-guitar-worthy tone. This track could've easily fit on the band's debut album. The band is tight and vocalist Derek Davis doesn't sound like he's aged a day; his pipes are as strong and confident as ever. "Fool On Fire" and "One Million Miles" (the hooks in this one will stick in your head like glue) aren't as fast 'n' furious as the opening track but they're a pair of slick, catchy melodic rockers.
"Tears" opens with some nice acoustic noodling before breaking into a tasty bit of riff-o-rama that will get heads nodding. "She Likes to Give It" is a primo slab of sleazy Sunset Strip style rock and "Rags To Riches" is a nice chunky number built around some impressive bass and guitar interplay. The acoustics come back out for the intro to "Last Time For Love," leading into the head banging "I'm No Good For You" and the hard-rocking, everybody-sing-along party anthem "Saturday Night." The album closer "Don't Tell Me Tonight" features yet another strong vocal performance by Davis and will have you pressing the "replay" button so you can go back to the album's beginning and start all over again!
"I'm No Good For You"
Summing It Up
I enjoyed Revelation Highway and I predict it will get many more spins around my house, but if I have to pick some nits, I'd say I wish it had a few more heavy tracks like the killer opener "Crash and Burn." Babylon A.D.'s overall sound was always a pretty even mix of hard edged melodic rock and '80s metal crunch, but I especially dug their raunchier, more "metal" side and wish it was better represented here.
In addition, I was a bit disappointed at first to learn that several of the album's tracks ("Tears," "I'm No Good For You," "She Likes to Give It" and "Last Time For Love") were actually retreads of old songs that date back to the mid '80s, before the band signed to Arista. Don't get me wrong, they're all good songs, but early demo versions of these tunes, recorded while the band was still using their original name "The Persuaders," have already been released on 2006's In the Beginning: Persuaders Recordings 86-88 compilation album. In the Beginning was an extremely limited release on a small indie label, though, so even though those songs may not be "new" to me, they'll be new to most B.A.D. fans, which I suppose justifies their inclusion on Revelation Highway.
Babylon A.D.'s cult following and fans of melodic '80s style rock in general should be pleased by Revelation Highway. They've picked up where they left off long ago without missing a step, and this album sounds like the start of a successful "second act" for them. Nice one, guys!
Babylon A.D. Discography
Babylon A.D. - Arista Records, 1989
Nothing Sacred - Arista, 1992
Live In Your Face - Apocalypse Records, 1998
American Blitzkrieg - Apocalypse, 2000
In the Beginning: Persuaders Recordings, 86-88 - Perris Records, 2006
Lost Sessions/Fresno, CA 93 - Apocalypse, 2014
Live @XXV - Apocalypse, 2015
Revelation Highway - Frontiers Records, 2017
© 2017 Keith Abt