Reborn In Defiance
20 January 2012
by Tom Dare
It’s all gone a bit awry for Biohazard recently. In the summer, they split with Evan Seinfeld (singer, bass player, porn star, and the one member of the band you’d be most likely to recognise in the pub) right on the eve of Download Festival 2011. Their first album in nearly seven years was, however, recorded with Seinfeld, so whatever happens from here on in, you’d expect them to be on form, right?
Regardless of what’s gone on with the line-up, it’s hard not to have bags of good will towards the veteran punks. They’ve been plugging away and raising middle fingers for a quarter of a century – which at the very least deserves your respect – and they soldiered onto the Download stage almost immediately after announcing their split with their frontman, which deserves credit. Musically, their reputation as New York hardcore “legends” (as apparently we’re now supposed to call them) is likely to be a tad divisive, given they’ve dipped from their thrash/hardcore crossover into and out of of nu metal with varying degrees of success, but at their best, they’ve been as bile-fuelled and sweatily furious as anyone. Urban Discipline remains a genuine classic and ‘Punishment‘ still sounds vital after 20 years.
Reborn In Defiance sees Biohazard back with plenty of thrashing crunch and hardcore stomp. They’ve also brought some sizeable melodies both vocally and in guitar terms. It’s consistent, recorded with a clean but punchy quality and there’s a genuineness about the bands delivery that comes across loud and clear. And if you put money on a “but” to follow that passage, collect your winnings now.
For all its obvious merit, Reborn In Defiance never quite hits the spot. It flaps its wings with purpose and power, but never quite manages to take flight. There’s nothing definitively wrong with Biohazard’s ninth outing (other than the ballad, which is misjudged), but the things that are right with it are a touch too tangible – finding the positives is a little bit too much like marking homework, and not enough about yelling “FUCK YEAH, BIOHAZARD!”.
Watch Biohazard’s studio diary of the recording of Reborn In Defiance:
There’s plenty of intent to this, but not quite enough intensity. Some lazy hack somewhere will probably guff off about punk bands finding it harder to maintain the fury as they get older, and much like their contemporaries Sick Of It All, in Biohazard’s case it’s utter bollocks. That’s not the issue – the aggression is audibly still in evidence, like on the aptly named ‘Skullcrusher‘. The problem is that the swings don’t quite end in the punches to the gut you would hope. The more melodic sections don’t help this as they lessen the attack, and while they’re atmospheric, they’re not quite powerful enough to raise the pulse in their own right.
With Reborn In Defiance, Biohazard have come oh-so close to nailing a modern-sounding slab of stamping opposition and closing the book on Evan Seinfeld with a definitive chapter. They haven’t quite done so, but there is class in evidence, even if it’s not capitalised on.
Sounds Like: Madball or Agnostic Front with more melody
Standout Tracks: Vengeance Is Mine, Reborn, Skullcrusher