The long-awaited and highly anticipated release of the new Disciples of Babylon (DOB) album The Rise and Fall of Babylon is finally here, and it’s a revelation. I’ve been following the Los Angeles-based rock band since 2015, and it’s been a pleasure watching them grow both musically and professionally. They’ve been gathering national and worldwide acclaim and a rapidly growing base of loyal fans, not only because of their exceptional, dynamic sound and thought-provoking lyrics, but also their appreciation and undying support for their fans. I know I’m in good company when I say that I love this band!
All accomplished musicians in their own right, DOB are Eric Knight on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Ramón Blanco on lead guitar, Gui Bodi on bass and backing vocals, and Chris Toeller on drums. The guys have had quite a year. In June, they performed at the extreme sports event Dew Tour 2017, and on July 8, they kicked off the 2017 Gladiator MMA Championship Series with a performance at the iconic Los Angeles Memorial Sports Coliseum. Also in June, Ramón and Gui had the thrill of playing in the backup band of Luis Fonsi when he performed his monster hit “Despacito” on Conan, and then in September, Chris joined Ramón and Gui to once again play backup for Luis Fonsi’s appearance on Ellen. Doesn’t get much better than that, except for DOB themselves to one day perform on Ellen!
DOB premiered The Rise and Fall of Babylon in front of a capacity crowd on Thursday, October 5 at the legendary Viper Room on the world-famous Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, California, and they all but blew the roof off the place. The crowd reception to the new tracks was ecstatic – no surprise given the band’s exciting and charismatic stage presence. Along with all seven tracks off the new album, they also played songs from their terrific debut EP Welcome to Babylon, plus an awesome cover of Led Zeppelin’s classic “Immigrant Song.”
Here’s a video I shot of them singing their hit song “KARMA.”
The Rise and Fall of Babylon features seven powerhouse tracks, some of which speak to issues facing America today. Eric feels passionately about social justice, and has strong opinions about the current state of affairs in our country, which he took time to express Thursday night. In a previous interview, Eric explained the impetus behind the new album: “These are precarious times we live in. The Rise and Fall of Babylon signifies something that I feel has been a long time coming. Babylon, meaning the USA, is slowly spinning out of control and entering into vast turmoil. I feel we are at the beginnings of a revolution. one of which the likes we’ve never seen before. As a nation, we are no longer viewed in the regard we once were. The title reflects this shift and quite possibly a prelude of what’s to come.”
The album was produced by GRAMMY award winner and longtime DOB producer Andres Torres, one of the producers behind the Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee smash hit “Despacito.” The album was mixed by GRAMMY award winner Curt Schneider (Augustana, Richie Sambora, Joe Bonamassa), and mastered by Dave Kutch (Bruno Mars, The Strokes, Outkast, Joe Perry).
The guys get right down to business with “Freedom,” a thunderous full-frontal assault on tyranny as powerful as anything I’ve heard in a long while. Ramon lays down blistering jaw-dropping riffs as Chris hammers out a galloping beat on the drums, anchored by Gui’s pummeling bass. With a passion that borders on fury, Eric brings goosebumps as he screams the searing lyrics:
Oppress us no more
We’ve waited for this day
Our rights have been taken
Your rule is coming to an end
The faster that we rise above
And we scream from our lungs
Freedom! Give us freedom back!
We crave freedom
Yes, we stand strong
Next up is “Without You,” the album’s lead single that I reviewed upon it’s release in late July. The hard-hitting track is a defiant rebuke to someone who’s betrayed you, killing the love you once felt toward them. Brimming with awesome instrumentals, the track is an exhilarating rock song. Ramón’s guitar work is a thing of wonder, and Gui nearly blows the speakers with his crushing bass line, aided and abetted by Chris’s pounding drums.
DOB slows things down a bit on the beautiful anthem “We Are the Ones,” a hopeful clarion call for us to all come together and unite in our fight against those who try to divide us. An especially notable aspect on this track for me are the gorgeous soaring backing vocals. And speaking of vocals, Eric has a phenomenal singing voice. As I’ve already noted, he can elicit chills with power and fury, or bring us to tears with heartfelt tenderness. He does both on the fantastic, emotion-packed “Lift.” And, needless to say, the guys unleash their sonic weaponry once again with mind-blowing instrumentals.
By this point in the album, I’m practically speechless at how incredibly good it is, wondering if DOB can sustain the high quality of the songs. I’m quickly reassured within seconds of hearing “Idiosyncracies,” a pile-driver of a track about struggling to keep a failing relationship from breaking apart: “I’ll fight to keep my sanity. I really want to believe in us, in you and me. There’s harmony, yeah! But I’ll fight to keep my spirit free.” And they keep on delivering the goods with the uplifting anthem “Simple Life.” This is one gorgeous rock song. Everything about it is perfection – lyrics, instrumentals, Eric’s vocals, and the superb production and arrangement.
The guys close the album with “Civilized,” a real head-banger of a tune. Gui sets the rhythm with a pulse-pounding bass line, then Ramon dives in with scorching riffs while Chris commences to attack his drum kit with all the strength he can muster. Eric snarls the lyrics that speak to someone he’s obsessed with who’s hurting him: “I’m out of my head, every time I realize all those things you said to me. So cruel, unkind. From the moment I wake, with every step that I take, draws me closer into you.”
The Rise and Fall of Babylon is a meticulously crafted album on every level, and a testament to the exceptional songwriting and musicianship of these four supremely talented gentlemen. It’s an effort they should be extremely proud of, and I’m so proud of them! I’ve gotten to know them all personally, and they’re as humble and kind as they are skilled at making music. I’m honored to be their friend.
Follow Disciples of Babylon: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music: Spotify / Soundcloud / Reverbnation / YouTube
Purchase: iTunes / Amazon