|Musical Style: Heavy Metal||Produced By: Gary Holtzman, John Berry & Biogenesis|
|Record Label: Soundmass||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2012||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 12||Rating: 80%|
|Running Time: 59:02|
So let us reintroduce Dayton, Ohio based Biogenesis, which has been updated for 2012 with a new label (Soundmass), a new album (its summer of 2012 sophomore release The Rise, The Fall, The Rebirth) and a new guitarist (Paul Witte joining holdover James Riggs to round out the guitar team). Biogenesis has for the most part been on the sidelines since 2001, when it released its Rowe Productions full length debut The Mark Bleeds Through, an album hailed by fans and critics alike for its unique blending of thrash and progressive metal with dark and down-tuned Gothic overtones.
The extended break between albums can be attributed to Biogenesis disbanding in 2005 as a result of turnover, including front man Chaz Bond joining veteran power metal outfit Jacobs Dream and newcomers Human Paradox. Since then the group has experienced its share of stops and starts, with a rumored comeback album to be produced by Jimmy P. Brown II (Deliverance) in addition to a deal with Retroactive Records, both of which fell through. The Biogenesis ship did not “right itself” until 2012 when it regrouped and joined the roster of Australia’s Soundmass Records, which led to the aforementioned The Rise, The Fall, The Rebirth.
Biogenesis makes a seamless transition between The Mark Bleeds Through and The Rise, The Fall, The Rebirth by continuing to focus on diversity. It starts with how the group takes a foundation of straightforward heavy metal and mixes it with strong doses of thrash, modern groove, progressive and Gothic metal. Yes, a wide array of styles, many of which make separate appearances within the same song, but it serves to support the Biogenesis strength of walking a fine line between the aggressive (with bone crushing heaviness and occasional extreme moments) and melodic (the material here is quite listenable - almost accessible - despite the angst). This turbulent but creative merging of contrasts play out on the nine original The Rise, The Fall, The Rebirth compositions and two bonus tracks, encompassing “Fallback” (originally recorded in 2002) and “Catalyst for Malice” (from 2004).
A progressive aspects characterizes much of the Biogenesis material, particularly that which runs the gamut from the thrash heavy to the calmer and lighter. “Paradox” best embodies this in mixing extreme elements with an understated melody, while “Point Of Origin” and “Biogenesis” uphold the same with their snarling aggressiveness and palatial refrains. “Catalyst For Malice” might be the bands best with its intricate tempo changes and reverberating chorus.
When Biogenesis flexes its muscles it does so in style. “Hatred Seed” proves more thrash influences as opposed to melodic (but listenable all the same) and “The Darkness Fades” a scorcher with its no-nonsense and in your face approach. “Bleed Me” does not let up with its penchant for technical thrash based power metal. The lone track here not to do it for me is “Fallback”, and this is from the thrash elements coming across a bit too overriding for my taste.
A more melodic side to Biogenesis can be found in its darker and Gothic influenced material. “Never”, “Angel” and “The Mark 12” are cut from the same mold (in a very positive sense) in plodding front to back with big bass lines, even bigger melodies and haunting undercurrents while also playing up the groups fundamental heaviness.
Helping define the Biogenesis sound is vocalist Chaz Bond, who mixes things up with clean, melodic singing not unlike Saviour Machine and mid-period Deliverance and harshly done thrash-like aggression that can border on the extreme. And it works, particularly the manner in which he trades off his diverse styles not just within the same verse or bridge but often within the same sentence. Of equal not is how he can take a “forceful” approach but not come across heavy handed or overbearing in the process.
To perform music of this capacity it is required to deliver a certain element of muscle and such is the case with the guitar team of James Riggs and Paul Witte. The duo proves riff driven monsters in burying the album in layer upon layer of heavy set guitars. Yes, more than adequate thrash driven and straight on metal riffs make their mark, but the two can also lend an occasional quieter touch in which guitars of a calmer nature can be found.
Interestingly, Biogenesis is not an instrumental heavy band. The group, of course, has its instrumental moments, but they are not the focus of the songwriting, as is often the case with progressive based music. Hence, the role of guest guitarist John Berry (Jacobs Dream), who handles the albums soloing abilities by playing to the song as opposed to being the center of it in this capacity.
Lone complaint revolves around production, which could have been beefed up. Guitars on the nine original cuts, while without a doubt heavy, deserve a bit more polished edge and bite. See bonus track “Catalyst For Malice” for how the guitars here should have been produced. Low end, at the same time, comes across pronounced to the extent you are forced to flatten out the bass and subwoofer in order to obtain a pleasing sound. My thought being that both areas would have been rectified with proper mastering.
Direct comparisons prove problematic due to Biogenesis having such a unique sound- it is difficult to pinpoint any other band bringing such all out aggression but also capable of being so eloquent (is this the correct word?) at the same time. Credit both the songwriting quality and varied vocal abilities of Chaz Bond from this standpoint. The Rise, The Fall, The Rebirth, as a result, adds up to a solid follow up to The Mark Bleeds Through.
Track By Track
The diverse “Paradox” embodies everything that works with Biogenesis. The song gets underway to a scream followed by some tough as nails guitar riffs, delivering its share of variety its remaining distance in maneuvering between smoothly laced passages (quite the understated melody makes its presence felt) and those taking a borderline extreme stance (heavier moments hit hard as they get). Lyric snippet:
I’ll rise up to escape the lie
And I will reach for knowledge
The time has come for awakening
This life is not forever
I’ve reached beyond myself
To find the truth within
God only knows you have the answers
I will not bow to a false destiny
Grant me the wisdom to follow
“Hatred Seed” represents another sorted piece but without the melodic emphasis. This is reflected in the songs thrash aspect, as can be found in the aggressively delivered chorus interwoven with sledgehammer-like guitars. Pure no-nonsense is delivered in the process. Contrastingly, the song plays up the lighter feel for verses carried by a gently done guitar.
Bass heavy plodder “Never” highlights the darker side to Biogenesis. Approaching Gothic in capacity, the song slowly crawls its length to ominous and swarthy verses prior to picking up pace as guitars crash in to drive quite the energized chorus (melody is sprawling and will draw you in on first listen). Bassist Randy Walton really shines on this one.
“Point Of Origin” starts assertively to a joining of hard charging riffs and dominant drums, plowing ahead relentlessly only to even out for a surprisingly calm refrain hinting of mid-period Deliverance (grand and stately but alluring at the same time). Jimmy P. Brown II was once slated to produce the follow-up Biogenesis album and cannot help but think this song came out of that period. Lyric snippet:
See all the evidence
Read between the lines
Open your eyes to the truth within
The divine unknown
For everything that breathes
Reveals the grand design under heaven
Wisdom or a search for valor
As man will rise to gain his power
Here lies the path that should not be
There’s more to life than what we choose to see
The albums most progressive is “Bleed Me”. This one presents with a literal maze of time signatures, ranging from even and tranquilly done passage to those slamming in thrash bases style to others with power metal edged drums and catchy riff action playing the lead role. Melody cannot be denied, while aura is all out powerful.
Back to a melodic based direction with “Angel”. The albums longest at seven and a half minutes, the song proves temperate in capturing much of the darker and emotional edge inherit to “Never”, as it does during its Gothic tinged verses. Chorus proves copious as impetus explodes with guitars stepping forward with just enough poignantly done edge. An almost worshipful flavor prevails as does an awe inspiring melody.
Shorter and precise in scope, “The Darkness Fades” backs away from the progressive leanings and delivers the greater straightforward sound. With its punch in the gut drum sound and bottom heavy riffing, the song approaches thrash territory with its brazenness focus, but it’s not all force in that a substance filled melody can be found as well. Compelling but stalwart is the aura at hand. Lyric snippet:
The time has come for you to
Face the pain that has denied
You of your sanity
Rise up to leave behind
The bitterness that kills you destiny
And you’ll see that the darkness fades
Hard times will come and go
The sun will rise on a new day
Life can bruise your inner soul
So choose to let it die
It takes one prayer to heal your soul
“Biogenesis” is highlighted by its disparities. On one hand, you have robust moments upheld by steadfast riffing and harshly delivered vocals. On the other, a distinct element can be found in the occasional quieter passage that finds keyboards playing a defined role- and helps add an accessible side of things as a result. Fittingly, piano carries the songs instrumental moments. Lyric snippet:
The life that we all live it is the grand design
We all breathe the paradox of the divine
This is the evidence for the truth of life
The reflection of creation
The fight goes on it never ends
When it’s all over who will save us from our sins
This is the day now is the time
The mass corruptions of humanity
“The Mark 12” gives rise to the more laid back trajectory. With unwavering bass lines and forwardly done keyboards, the song brings some Gothic flavorings while also playing up added Deliverance influences (at least for the imposingly done chorus). Melody, at the same time, is unavoidable, while Chaz adds a differentiating hint with an extreme edge to his delivery. Lyric snippet:
Time begins to wear down on life
And this time it is short
Choose wisely what you do with it
Time is now, this is it
One chance to live with dignity
Search your soul, truth you’ll find
Cause the march of life it trains on
Mark of our God bleeds through mankind
Mark of the beast bleeds through our time
“Fallback”, probably the most thrash heavy of the cuts here, does not quite do it for e. Yes, the song hits abominably hard but also lacks the fundamental melody that might allow it to hold up under repeat play (at least based upon my tastes). As a result, there is a slight repetitive feel here. Nevertheless, I do enjoy the occasional doom-like guitar tone allowed to rise to the surface.
“Catalyst For Malice” rates with the bands best. The song starts frenetically, almost at a speed metal pace, prior to descending into the mid-paced guitar tones that are its verses and rumbling feel to its decisive bridge. The darkly tinged chorus that follows takes the more decisive heading (very catchy and gripping despite the angst surrounding it). Razor edged lead guitar work as well. Lyric snippet:
Crime and murder
We must teach our children
To love and not hate
Malice is spreading fast
It’s our responsibility to
Teach them respect
Rising to the surface
Innocence will fall
Closing things out is acoustic based “joke” song “Beans And Cornbread” in which all you can do is grin and bear its short (2:07) distance.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Paradox” (4:56), “Hatred Seed” (4:04), “Never” (4:20), “Point Of Origin” (4:29), “Bleed Me” (5:41), “Angel” (7:28), “The Darkness Fades” (3:40), “Biogenesis” (5:43), “The Mark 12” (6:22), “Fallback” (4:07), “Catalyst For Malice” (5:54), “Beans And Cornbread” (2:12)
Chaz Bond - Lead Vocals
James Riggs - Guitars
Paul Witte - Guitars
Randy Walton - Bass
Nevin Cline - Drums
John Berry - Guitars, Synth & Strings
Jimmy P. Brown - Bass (on “Fallback”)