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BABYLON A.D. Rome Wasn't Built In A Day

By Breezy Bird, Idaho Contributor
Wednesday, May 15, 2024 @ 5:58 AM


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BABYLON A.D.
Rome Wasn't Built In A Day

Perris Records




If you were young in the '80's like me, some of the less mainstream bands might have gone unnoticed shadowed by the likes of goliaths POISON, MOTLEY CRUE, and DEF LEPPARD. But, in my opinion, the best rock bands during this time were those more obscure artists that were just a hair shy of making it big. For me, BABYLON A.D. was one of those bands! The 1989 debut self-titled album was the quintessential hair but not-so-glam release that embraced the wild and carefree nature of the era all while exemplifying solid vocals and musicianship. Although there wasn't a bad song on the entire album the grunge and alternative scene was lurking just around the corner waiting to eviscerate the hard rock scene as we knew it.

Fast forward 25 years, three studio albums, three live albums, a compilation album, along with several lineup changes and BABYLON A.D. is set to release a new studio album titled Rome Wasn't Built in a Day. A lot has changed in the music scene since 1989, including my taste in music. As I sat down to listen to this new offering, I wanted to make sure that I gave it an unbiased opportunity to stand on its own without being compared to its much-endeared predecessors. On first inspection, it had the same unyielding guitar riffs and relentless drum rhythms that sounded reminiscent of times gone-by thanks to John Matthews (guitar), Ron Freschi (guitar), Craig Pepe (bass), and Dylan Soto (drums). I listened to the album several times before I gained an appreciation for the unexpected transition in Derik Davis' vocals. The more times I listened to the album, the more I began to respect the maturation of his voice and the depth of the lyrics. However, it wasn't until I interviewed Derik Davis (interview on KNAC.COM HERE) for this album that I truly welcomed the transformation.

When speaking with Davis he acknowledged that the sound of his voice has matured over the years, and he makes no apologies for it. In fact, he embraces it stating that his voice is "a lot more natural and easy to perform with now." Davis goes on to praise new additions Dylan Soto and Craig Pepe for their contributions and seamless integration into the band while celebrating the unparalleled musicianship of long-time members John Matthews and Ron Freschi.

Rome Wasn't Built in a Day was produced and mixed in a much more organic way than many albums are today, without backing tracks or AI. It's a real testament to how real rock music should be done. Derek Davis produced the album in his home studio, and it was mastered by Grammy award winner David Donnely. You can tell this is a more grass roots recording, there aren't any bells and whistles. It's just rock and roll.

The first track "Wrecking Machine" opens with a raw drum line followed by a parfait of guitars before finally adding the vocals as the cherry on top. This song has a little bit of a gritty, bluesy sound reminiscent of songs like "Slap In The Face" by L.A. GUNS and "Hang Me Up" by WAR BABIES. The accompanying music video for this first single incorporates the complexities of a future world where robots equipped with AI can express feelings of anger and unleash destruction in their wake.

The next song, "Pain" begins with a screeching guitar lick that instantly draws you in. Written in response to a loved one's cancer battle, you can hear the emotion in Davis's voice as he proclaims that it's a "battle of life and death". This is a song that can strike a cord with anyone who has fought to survive against what seems like insurmountable odds because in our own way, we are all fighting some kind of pain. "Well, are you suffering too?" The third track, "Sometimes Love Is Hell", is a bit of a harder driving ballad that focuses on the changing of a relationship from love to resentment and not wanting to let go of the relationship but knowing that sometimes you have to give up on reconciliation and just move on.

The title track, "Rome Wasn't Built In A Day", pays homage to the idea that even when everything crumbles around you, nothing good can be built overnight. The song has a lot to do with the rebuilding of BABYLON A.D. and the release of long-awaited fifth studio album. "Looking For a Heartbeat" is a bit of a love song, but without the sap and sadness that you would come to expect from an '80's power ballad. Anchored around an incredible guitar solo sets the stage for a solum scene of a home that was once filled with love that has now become a harbor that is now filled with loneliness. The song rips at the heart strings as the lyrics cry "cold winter nights I spent wasting so much time losing the fight, but I keep holding onto you". Anyone that has ever tried to hold onto a relationship that is long over will instantly appreciate the song's theme.

"I Will Never Break Again" begins with the painful vocals of Derek Davis and a single guitar. As the story builds orchestral elements are added and the feeling transitions from one of despair to one of resolution. As the solution becomes evident, the song crescendos then fades away just as solemnly it began. "White Hot Bullet" is a charging tune that hits you in the face from beginning to end. It focuses on a set of heavily repeated lyrics that can definitely create a bit of an earworm if you aren't careful.

"Crashed Into The Sun" is probably my favorite track from the album, not because of the song itself, but mostly because it reminds me of "Shot O' Love" from the debut album. The guitar and rhythm of this piece marry beautifully with Derek's voice and the guitar solo in the middle is phenomenal. "Face of God" is another mellow-starting track that highlights Derek's foundational religious convictions and belief that everyone is deserving of salvation. As the song intensifies, there are moments where guitar riffs soar upward in unison with the vocals, taking you on a spiritual journey.

"Shut Up" sounds like a throwback to a simpler time when you could simply just agree to disagree and walk away. This song, once again, has a great guitar solo in the middle that pulls it all together. The last song, "Super Beast" is a 4-minute instrumental guitar and drum jam session that showcases the incredible talent of John Matthews, Ron Freschi, Craig Pepe, and Dylan Soto. It's the kind of tune that you might hear during a concert when the singer steps backstage to get a drink for change clothes. It's a strong and unexpected way to end the album.

In an era where music often leans on backing tracks and AI, BABYLON A.D. stands out with an authentic rock and roll album. While their sound has evolved over the decades, there's still a nostalgic touch of '80s music that resonates with those who experienced it firsthand. Though not every track may hit the mark for every listener, Rome Wasn't Built In A Day showcases the band's strength and resilience, offering a solid record that deserves attention. In a world where time seems to move faster than ever, albums like this provide a welcomed opportunity to reconnect with the past and relive youthful memories.

3.9 Out Of 5.0


 

 

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