12 August 2013

Biohazard – Mata Leão

In Portuguese this translates to ‘Lion Killer’ and is also the name of a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu chokehold move.  Released in 1996 and it has apparently been out of print since 2008 according to Wikipedia. This makes it either rare or just shit. Classed as hardcore punk, metalcore, rapcore and groove metal, this album was produced by Dave Jerden and released on Warner Brothers, and let’s face it, this band have had nearly as many labels changes as they have amicably parted ways or became mysteriously ‘ill’.  

The album has 15 tracks and perhaps track 11 “A Lot To Learn” sums the album up succinctly. However, since I am neither good at summing up or indeed succinct-I’ll jabber on ;) The line-up- when this particular album was released - was Evan Seinfeld (who goes by the porn star name Spyder Jones) -bass and vocals; Billy Graziadei - vocals, rhythm and lead guitar; and Danny Schuler on drums and percussion.

A bit of sandwiched band history to bulk this out as there isn’t a lot on the above named album....

This band initially used one of the most appalling aspects of society to get noticed- Racism- using fascist & white supremacist views in their lyrics. The band have admitted they did this as a publicity stunt with the lyrics from songs such as “Master Race + America” being ‘metaphors meant to shock and get attention’.  Since then it seems the band have spoken out against racism.  Dicks.

When going through their documented change of line-up and that they don’t seem to have gotten on too well, suggesting that they were probably in it solely for the money. 

In their current line up only two members of the band are still in Biohazard (Mr Graziadei and Mr Schuler).  Spyder Jones has joined Anthony Meo, Rob Echeverria, Leo Curley and Carmine Vincent in the ranks of past members.   
Seems they rose through the ranks supporting various immaturely named bands, making friends and influencing people – until they no doubt got what they wanted when MTV played their video from “Punishment” and the album sold a ton of copies. This meant that they could play with the big boys with similarly fantastically thought out names such as ‘House Of Pain’ and ‘Sick Of It All’. (Personally the song from the ‘Judgement Night’ soundtrack which was collaboration with Onyx is quite frankly the only thing I can remember of this band).  After this they received favourable reviews by Rolling Stones magazine, playing bigger stages, and ultimately, having gotton what they thought they wanted, split up and got on with different things. Ahhh cliché cliché ..........  

And then......Mata Leão!!!!  An album which I can’t find much about.....

Warner Brothers (the band’s record label at the time) don’t appear to mention the album, Nuclear Blast (the band’s current label) doesn’t seem to mention the album either, and neither does their bio of the band.  They mention their self titled debut, Urban Discipline, State Of The Wold Address, and then skip over the rest of their career until the recent Reborn In Defiance.  What are they trying to say?  Perhaps they feel this album is best left in a quiet discography section where they tactfully withhold ratings.  Perhaps they are right – should a listener make up their own mind? Well, I’m going to continue my rant regardless.

Random almost related facts: They (predictably) have pretty tame Facebook and MySpace pages with the typical stern faced photos.  If you look up Biohazard, you get informed about gym supplements and a cleanup response team to accidents including blood, crime, death and itomiciele and suicide scenes.  Nice – so quite an effective name, the bass player is a porn star – think about it.....  The music for “These Eyes (Have Seen)” is okay – pretty standard heavy stuff, nicely put together; but the lead vocals/backing vocals....why.....how did these people get anywhere?  You’d see better in a teenage garage band or maybe at a local battle of the bands.

The lyrics for “These Eyes (Have Seen)” are much better than the first track “Authority” - dear me, poor boy not wanting to work as it is boring (how hardcore); but “These Eyes (Have Seen)” I like.  The lyrics are not as excruciating, they may be painful (perhaps that’s the aim), but they are quite reflective and demonstrate insight, realness, authenticity.

“Manifestation of rage runs deep, over the edge of sanity, thoughts creep, violent reaction, better and mean, a product of what these eyes have seen”.

I am afraid to say (as I’m sure we all write like this at times) that this album is little transparent. It reads like a collection of teenage diary entries, desperate for acceptance and an appearance of coolness, expressing difficulty in friendships and a level of competition with peers. The description of pain reeks of a shallow dip rather than a full blown immersion. The lyrics that grasp at the description/communication of frustration at contemporary political issues and socio economic realities appear to be more sincere than the rest... almost.  Shame about the vocal delivery which for me ruins any momentum or dynamic.

The album (1996) sounds very dated-it perhaps aged badly-sounding a bit like a privileged teenager who has lived relatively sheltered life expressing angry and embarrassingly uninformed world weariness. Which is a shame, because that might not necessarily be the case, and the music is actually alright.  The singer’s part may need to be rethought, for me it ruins what could be a good tracks. 

Individual track run down....

‘These Eyes’ would have been a good track to focus on in terms of a tone for the album, as with ‘In Vain’.  On ‘Stigmatized’ the time signature change was not needed.  The start of ‘Control’ is very interesting, the growling vocal delivery is interesting which is spoilt by the chorus which is out of tune – but at least the shouting sounds slightly unhinged at times, which is nice. 

'Cleansing’ starts poor and continues that way (apart from the bridge in the middle which leads you into a false sense of security that things could improve). They would have benefitted from some outside advice on variating their vocal approach or at least some mild constructive criticism given by someone experienced with handling big egos.  The drumming overall is standard for the genre and the guitar work has been interesting in some places with descent solo type areas.  ‘Competition’ sounds no different to the other tracks; this could be New Kids On The Block trying to be metal.

‘Modern Democracy’ appears to be a good attempt at a political statement. Following this is ‘Better Days’ which could be better if they slowed it down a bit-the vocals are distracting, as the music itself is actually alright. With ‘Gravity’ I am not quite sure what they are getting at, are they just writing angry tunes or is it some existential crisis?  However the Sepultura type bongo piece in the middle of it is good(as is the rip off of ‘Killing In The Name’). ‘A Lot To Learn’ is a personal statement for them, and whether or not they have achieved this I don’t actually want to listen to later material to find out. ‘Waiting To Die’ starts well..... its another case of the non shouting vocals making the songs interesting, and the attempt at rapping ruins it. ‘A Way’ sounds like a Motorhead track, its ok until the vocals kick in; ‘True Strength’ is more of the same, ‘Thorn’ is again more of the same and ‘In Vain’ ends the album with a different tone which momentarily changes the band for the better, giving an insight into what they could have achieved had they thought it through, until the main shouting starts and another song is ruined.

This band has not found a fan in me.  

Basically they sound like a band who have not become cohesive enough to discuss their tracks with any type of constructive objectivity-yet bosh them out manfully to make up for this.  They sound at their best when they sound like other bands, and with the deeper vocalist (not sure who that one is on the album, it doesn’t say). 

Kudos for the effort, they managed to get an album out and a label to support them, but it is not for me.

2.5 out of ten - If only there was some quality control

You can purchase the album from Amazon here

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