Oh man. Biohazard were one of those bands that really broke me into heavy music when I was just a tyke. While the band’s debut, which oddly enough was largely edited verbally, never did much for me, Urban Discipline, State of the World Address (I still have the version with the orange gel case somewhere), and the much maligned Mata Leao were all albums that dug into my 10 to 14 year old soul and left permanent impressions. Those records were tough, heavy slabs of machismo that with Type O Negative, Life of Agony and Sepultura paved the way towards the heavier side of tracks. Unfortunately, I grew away from these guys and, I’m going to be frank, their records really started going downhill in quality (turns out I *wasn’t* down for life). So, when I saw that the original lineup had reunited for a new record (before Evan Seinfeld left the band), I gotta say: I was interested in spite of myself.
Reborn in Defiance is just as self-conscious as I was conscious of the history and what it means that the original line-up of Biohazard was reuniting. The opening track of the album is all of the intros from their albums being rewound back to point zero, and when “Vengence Is Mine” burst out the gate with Evan’s characteristic hardcore scream and some fucking gang chants (“You think you know me? FUCK YOU!”)… I got chills. And a Bobby Hambel guitar solo to follow that up? It’s like shit hadn’t really changed at all. Except, well, that’s not really true if you let the record keep playing. What you find is a Biohazard that is maybe a bit older, a bit more jaded, a bit less hungry and really not as heavy (this isn’t to say that it’s not heavy).
While the band does still have balls-to-the-walls heavy and fast tracks like “Come Alive,” the aforementioned opener “Vengeance Is Mine,” “Skullcrusher” and “Never Give In,” there’s a softer, gentler and more melodious side that comes through on this album that I certainly don’t remember from their older material. Like on the final track “Season the Sky” or “You Were Wrong,” there’s a melancholy that permeates this album. Minor keys, dirty, icky guitar tones that reflect the blackness that older dudes see that maybe younger dudes don’t get. While Evan’s semi-rappy part over the beginning of “Vows of Redemption” puts a bit of a damper on the slide guitar work at the beginning of the track, it really stands out as something cool that the band never really tried before. It should be noted that “Vows of Redemption” has a melodious chorus, but one of the fucking crushingest riffs on the whole damned record.
Reborn in Defiance is really a tour de force of what sounds to me like post-Biohazard. It’s heavy, groove-laden with all the things that made Urban Discipline and State of the World Address great records in their own rights, but with a bit of a melancholic edge to it. I certainly have grown up a bit, myself, since being a huge fan of Biohazard. Time has moved me from the world of machismo and ballsy simplicity to more progressive tendencies and technical tastes. But Reborn in Defiance is still a damned good album, with some damned good material on it. While it’s a little on the long side (55 minutes) with Biohazard‘s not-so-inventive lyrics and that does kind of bring it down, there’s definitely something here.
If you dig heavy, groove-laden tracks and hardcore or were ever a Biohazard fan, I think it’s worth checking this record out. With Evan Seinfeld gone, it seems like this is going to be a one time deal, but Reborn in Defiance definitely taps into what made this band really special when they started out. It’s weird seeing them older and thinking of them as being sort of more melancholic than in your face, but that Brooklyn cocksure “HEY! FUCK YOU BUDDY!” swagger definitely still counts for something.