Kill or Be Killed
Released: n/a, Sanctuary
There are a lot of flaws with Biohazard over the years in my opinion. Many of those flaws
were not fatal but those same flaws, in combination with a series of weak releases, relegated the band to has-been status. I’m unhappy to report that many of those flaws are still present in the new Biohazard release, with one major exception.
From the top we have a quite a predictable release; a new guitarist (the fourth guitarist in four albums) another boring cover, with boring logo, another dull package and so on. The band has had some controversy with a cancelled tour, some health problems, line-up change, scrapped titles, artwork, delayed releases and a public shot or two at Sanctuary courtesy of the band. Apparently the band feels the label isn’t doing what it could for them. Well after, five kicks at the can (Maze, Warner, Roadrunner, Polygram and now Sanctuary) it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out the common denominator here. They have had more than enough chances and but most accounts have not been able to deliver the goods, outside of a small but dedicated fan-base.
The total lack of originality on Kill or Be Killed is a drawback. A predominant theme is September 11th, 2001. Ok, they are from NYC, granted but damn, that theme is done to death by a dozen other bands and the event in question was almost two years ago. The song titles and lyrical concepts are so overdone, uninspired and one-dimensional as to be almost laughable. ‘World on Fire’ has been done by Annihilator, Megadeth, Rage, Racer X, hell even Krokus! ‘Kill or Be Killed’ has been done by Twisted Sister, Blessed Death, Glenn Tipton, and even Pro-Pain! Wasn’t it just last year that W.A.S.P (also on Sanctuary) has a song about 9-11 called Hallowed Ground? Now Biohazard has one too! Coincidence?
The thing that really saves this from a rating of 2 (or lower) is the music. They actually have got their act together and put out a damn, heavy album. I think they have done nicely by returning to the elements that made them a decent band in the first place. Gone is the over-indulgent, top-heavy, mallcore-riddled, guest star line-up of the last album. Gone are the big name producers like, Jerden and Calliat. Gone is the hip-hop and rap influenced vocal style. Gone is the scratching and guest DJ’s. This is a stripped-down and raw Biohazard and I like it! It seems Evan has managed to put aside his porn-star wife, his acting career, his Maxim magazine photo-shoots and his hip-hop hood, and get his head out of his ass and get back to doing what got him there in the first place…namely metal!
Keeping the album short and aggressive was a step in the right direction. Ten cuts, all heavy and it seems the band has learned the lesson that death metal bands learned 10 years ago…if you are going to go the brutal /aggressive route, you can’t sustain the pace for an hour of 13 or 14 songs without it blending into one incoherent mess. Keep it nasty, brutish and short. It seems like they took the best ideas and ran with it.
The guitar tone is heavy, very nice, and newcomer, Vincent is not bad but certainly no Malmsteen. A lack of decent solos is, as always with these guys, a drawback. The songs fall mostly in the mid-tempo range and kinda plod along like Biohazard always has. The production is fairly raw and again stripped down with the band themselves handling the sound themselves. The underlying ferocity is evident and that makes for some great energy and intensity. I’m glad to see the band back in action and I would certainly recommend this album to those fans who had all but given-up on the band. Check it out and you might be pleasantly surprised. I was.