Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Biogenesis - A Decadence Divine
   
Musical Style: Hybrid Metal Produced By: Luke Nealeigh
Record Label: Roxx Records Country Of Origin: USA
Year Released: 2017 Artist Website:
Tracks: 12 Rating: 90%
Running Time: 75:36

Biogenesis - A Decadence Divine

Say the name Biogenesis and hard music enthusiasts perk up their ears.  Such was the case when the Dayton, Ohio based group released in 2001 its Rowe Products debut full length The Mark Bleeds Through, which came out subsequent to founding member and vocalist Chaz Bond developing in the mid-nineties a vision to create a ‘hybrid metal’ band that molded various hard music forms into a unique whole.  Despite its initial popularity, Biogenesis could not sustain the success and disbanded four years later in the face of band turnover and failure to land a label deal.  Fast forward to 2009 and Biogenesis - much to the delight of critics and fans alike and after having persevered though several false starts and stops - reunited its original line up for its every bit well received 2012 Soundmass Records sophomore effort The Rise, The Fall, The Rebirth.

History, however, is cyclical.  Despite maintaining its line up the next two years and starting work on a new album, Biogenesis again broke up, with Bond forming a new band, Letters To The Blind, with whom he recorded a pair of EP’s.  The Biogenesis story, nevertheless, was not done in that Bond, feeling God was calling him back to the vision and ministry that He originally placed in his hands, reformed the group in 2015.  He initially brought original guitarist James Riggs back into the fold, whom was later joined by newcomers (and relatives) lead guitarist Luke Nealeigh, drummer Majennica Nealeigh, bassist Dan Nealeigh and keyboardist Sam Nealeigh.  Subsequent to spending the next couple of years working on new material, Biogenesis signed with Roxx Records for its spring of 2017 third album A Decadence Divine.

So what is hybrid metal?  To provide answer, one must first look to Bond’s pre Biogenesis days in which he fronted bands with styles ranging from melodic metal to thrash to death metal.  Since he enjoyed too many different types of metal to choose just one, he decided to forget the rules and combine them all into one band.  Hence, Biogenesis was born.  In terms of specifics, the groups takes a foundation of straightforward heavy metal and mixes it with aspects of thrash, modern metal, power and progressive metal, Gothic metal and even occasional extreme elements.  Tying everything together are Bond’s multidimensional vocals, who mixes things up by transitioning between clean but lower register singing (somewhat akin to Eric Clayton of Saviour Machine) and thrash-like aggression that can border on the extreme (without coming across overbearing).

First two A Decadence Divine cuts provide a good indicator as to that multifarious Biogenesis sound.  “Prelude (Nocturnal Images” embodies both the light and heavy, as eloquent guitar harmonies, piano and symphonic keyboards trade off with teeming rhythm guitars, replete drums and Bond’s customary lower register growls.  Albums title track touches upon an intricate power metal form.  Variances prevail, including the rumbling instrumental first minute with narration from 2 Timothy 3, verses that mirror the guttural and refrain tempering as piano allows for a dramatic effect.  The Biogenesis penchant for the progressive helps tie the two together.

It took several listens to warm up to the modern metal lacings to subsequent track “Inside The Beast”.  Yes, modern guitar tones abound as do some of the albums most extreme vocals, albeit the groups uses them sparingly.  Refrain, which runs the gamut from airy vocal melodies to those of a near brutal variety, provide a good indicator as to the contrasts at hand.  An equal instrumental proclivity takes the song out to near seven minutes, one of several here of such length.  No, I am not a modern metal fan but welcome the diversity “Inside The Beast” brings , keeping in mind if the entire album took such a heading I might balk.

“Bet Your Soul”, more truncated at four and a half minutes, starts to stilly done guitars that soon give way to piano, doom-like riffs and harsh screams.  The song sustains the focused impetus moving ahead, with battering power metal outbursts and tough as nails refrain making it one of the albums most aggressive.  Likewise, “As Empires Fall” is a shorter (five-minute) heavy hitter.  Up-tempo all the way, the song churns from Majennica’s galloping drum presence and Riggs’ sledgehammer riffs that touch upon every bit aggressive thrash territory.

The catchy “Lines In The Sand” is the first of three choice tracks in the seven minute range.  Pursuing darker Gothic influenced territory, the song proves mid-paced as thickset guitars and pertinent drums complement Bond’s trademark swarthy delivery.  “The Pain You Left Behind”, in contrast, pursues an up-tempo melodic hard rock inclining.  An almost ballad-like feel resonates, as piano and Dan Nealeigh’s breathing bass combine for the albums most commercial statement.  “Tears Of God” does the power/progressive metal thing.  A return to a darker form, the song plays up tasteful keyboard tinctures - I cannot say enough good things about the work of Sam Nealeigh - and ominous overtures that hint of the choir like and even the doom-ish.  Attributed to the three are generous stretches of Luke Nealeigh’s top-notch work on lead guitar.

Lone piece in which I am on the fence is the Genesis cover, “Land Of Confusion”.  Not that there is anything wrong with it - as with everything here, it is performed without flaw - but Biogenesis, a band not known for being conservative, might have played it a bit too much so.  Problem is that guitars come across somewhat reserved in that I was expecting them to deliver the type of wallop to turn a contemporary pop hit into a signature Bio heavy hitter.  It comes down to the same conundrum bands encounters when covering others material: to what extent do you stay true to the original version to the song, and what extent do you imbue it with your own unique sensibilities? 

“In The Darkness I Dwell” is another seven-minute power and progressive amalgamation.  The song stands out as an exercise in technical brilliance, with moments ranging from those that stilly dance to faint keyboards and accenting bass and others that explode as abrading guitars and equally rancorous drums exert control.  Yet, the full on melody that asserts cannot help but bring to mind the better material off Beneath The Shadows, the superlative 2009 album from Bond’s previous band Jacobs Dream.

Biogenesis crosses the Dream Theater style progressive metal threshold on eight minute “Brood Of Vipers”.  The song starts ominously to foreboding bass and caustic vestiges, maintaining the portent theme as florid keyboards underscore its verses, and profound backing vocals buttress the fathomless refrain.  Instrumentally, “Brood Of Vipers” ranges from intricate keyboard solos to stirring lead guitar.  Again, Biogenesis puts its technical excellence on full display to help turn it into this reviewer's choice track.

Closing the album is CD only bonus-track “Silence”, which Bond wrote about his daughter who is autistic and does not converse.  The song comes across in the form of a haunting piano-based ballad with complementary melancholic vocals and melodic guitar harmonies.

In the wake of the somewhat shaky production to The Rise, The Fall, The Rebirth, Biogenesis hits its stride in the area in delivering the type of production characterized by professionalism and attention to detail.  It is obvious the group spent the needed time in the studio and obtained the results it was looking for.  Kudos also to the eye catching cover art.

Lyrics touch upon the group’s faith.  “Bet Your Soul” is written from the standpoint of the devil sitting across the table from an atheist who is willing to ‘bet his soul’ that God doesn’t exist, while “The Pain You Left Behind” is an anti-suicide song to make people stop and think before giving in to the suicide lie.  “Brood Of Vipers” deals with the tragedy of the Salem Witch Trials.  The hope behind “Silence” is that families with children that have disabilities will fond comfort in the song.

A Decadence Divine is not so much the best album from Biogenesis but rather the best album I have heard so far in 2017, noting how we are not quite halfway through the year.  So many great songs from which to choose, with “A Decadence Divine”, “Tears Of God”, “In The Darkness I Dwell” and “Brood Of Viper” my favorites, but keeping in mind that each track stands on its own and there is nothing close to being skip worthy.  I even like the Genesis cover, although I feel it could potentially have been done differently.  What I do appreciate is how Biogenesis is not afraid to extend its material into seven-minute territory and beyond.  Whereas I am not offering comparison, the group reminds somewhat of early Veni Domine in this capacity: creating lengthy material with the inventiveness to remain fresh with repeat play.  If looking for a ‘hybrid metal’ album that merges multiple forms of hard music or into any of the styles presented then you will not be disappointed with A Decadence Divine.

Review by Andrew Rockwell

Track Listing: “Prelude (Nocturnal Images)” (5:33), “A Decadence Divine” (5:48), “Inside The Beast” (6:56), “Bet Your Soul” (4:25), “As Empires Fall” (5:13), “Lines In The Sand” (7:16), “The Pain You Left Behind” (7:12), “Tears Of God” (7:23), “Land Of Confusion” (4:45), “In the Darkness I Dwell” (7:06), “Brood Of Vipers” (8:13), “Silence” (5:46) (CD bonus track)

Musicians
Chaz Bond - Lead Vocals
James Riggs - Rhythm Guitar
Luke Nealeigh - Lead Guitar
Sam Nealeigh - Keyboards
Dan Nealeigh - Bass
Majennica Nealeigh - Drums

 

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