Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Biohazard - Reborn In Defiance

I never really thought Biohazard would release another album. I thought they were done. The members had moved on to bigger and better boobs, I mean, things. But in reality, none of those things was bigger or better than the 'Hazard. So it was with great delight that I read they had reformed (sadly short-lived however) and were releasing a new album. So you could say, the band was "Reborn In Defiance" of my expectations.
On first listen, even the next couple, I thought it was actually kind of weak. I wasn't expecting them to beat down the door like it was '94 but I was hoping for more. This turned out to be one of those cases of overreaching expectations. The best course of action was to step back and take the music for what it is. It just happens to be a very strong album after all.
Sometimes I can hear the maturity that inevitably wiggles its way into the album. The choruses on songs such as "Decay" and "Vows of Redemption" reel back on the aggression a bit and the instrumental closer "Season The Sky" doesn't sound like Biohazard at all. The vocals of Evan Seinfeld and Billy Graziadei are such an integral part of the Biohazard sound that their absence really caught me off guard. The results however, are quite pleasant.
Back to the meat and potatoes of the album. Biohazard are known as being innovators in the fusion of rap and metal/hardcore. Reborn In Defiance doesn't stray far from the formula Biohazard has laid down. But it's not in the least formulaic. Songs like "Skullcrusher", "Come Alive" and album highlight "Reborn" are hardcore heavyweights with huge riffs/breakdowns, gang shouts and all the heft you need.  In fact, the majority of the album would translate well to the live environment.  The opportunities for singing along run rampant. Especially on the aforementioned "Reborn". "From sickness I am torn/ Through suffering reborn/ No compassion, no control/ Only black inside my soul". The rhythms are tailor made for headbangin' and when the mosh parts hit, someone's getting hurt.  They've got the feel of a hundred mountain gorillas stomping poachers to dust in unison.
I haven't been a fan of rap since grade school (Run DMC!!) but when Seinfeld raps, I can dig it. My assumption is that it's mostly context related. The backdrop isn't hip-hop and the lyrics aren't about bitches, blunts and poppin' caps. They're about real life. Coupled with Graziadei's shouts (Seinfeld's too) and that vicious heavy hardcore, I hardly think of it as rap at all. 
All in all, Reborn In Defiance offers a tremendous return from pioneers of a style freakishly distorted by "rap metal" bands of the '00s. Most of which have faded into obscurity. Thankfully, Biohazard has stuck to their strengths and given us what will most likely be "Comeback Album of the Year".

Hopefully a North American release date is announced soon. The album was released in Europe back in January on Nuclear Blast.  I'm also interested to see what they will sound like with new bassist/vocalist Scott Roberts.


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