Biohazard, Heights, Lionheart & Dripback

Club Academy, Manchester – Tuesday January 31st 2012

The long awaited return of Biohazard was one of the first big tours I had marked down for the year. A new singer, new fire on the back the excellent “Reborn In Defiance” and small basement venue, this was always going to be a special night.

The first band of the night was London’s ,Dripback featuring members from some of the capitals best underground names (Labrat, Pure Negative, River Fresney, Ted Maul), this was going to be an interesting start to the night.  For those who managed to get there in time for the doors opening, they were treated to a blistering 25 minutes set.  Front man Wes4 owns the stage, with the crowd stood a little back, which maybe wise as he prowls the stage looking as if he might just snap at any moment and attack the nearest bystander. Featuring a set drawn from their debut EP ‘Inhaling The Ashes’, these boys will definitely one to look out for in the future. Catch them at Hammerfest, on this form they it will be unmissable.

Up next were California’s Lionheart. This band that shared the most in common of all with tonight’s headliners. They used their half hour to fire out some pretty impressive hardcore, and battled through despite being a member short due to a lost passport. They handled the setback and the cramped drive from London well, and blasted through ‘Pure Anger’, ‘Brothers Keeper’ and ‘Built On Struggle’ amongst others. The crowd saw their first bouts of energy with a few windmills starting up. The temperature just warmed up in here.

The main support was Welwyn Garden City post hardcore group Heights. Seemingly the odd one out on a bill like this, but you would never have guessed it from their performance. For a young group of lads they had confidence in droves, often coming off stage and going face-to-face and toe-to-toe with some of the crowd. There were some dissenting voices but on the whole, Heights got a well-deserved good response for their loud and unrelenting noise. Technically proficient, some powerful vocals from Thom Debaere and such a stage presence at such an early stage in their career can only bode well. They sold a fair few copies of their “Dead Ends” album too!

Over the last couple of years, Biohazard seem to have been plagued by enough problems and ill fortune that would see other bands cancel or reschedule everything. First, there was the split with vocalist Evan Seinfeld, more recently there was the delayed release of the album and the departure from the tour of Danny Schuler due to his wife giving birth birth, with Danny Lamagna picking up the sticks. This didn’t stop the Brooklyn veterans however and they started the UK leg of their ‘In Your Fucking Face Tour’ in fine form in a sweaty basement in Manchester. From the moment they kicked off with ‘Urban Discipline’ to the ending notes of ‘Hold My Own’ it was a non-stop onslaught that got the pits moving and the stage divers throwing themselves into the chaos.

The 50 minute set featured songs from “Urban Discipline”, “State Of The World Address” and recently released comeback “Reborn In Defiance” and fitted amongst a some of the very best Biohazard have to offer.  The new songs more than held their own and seemed to go down with everyone. With no barriers and no visible security, the tour was aptly named as Billy Grazedei, Bobby Hambel and new recruit Scott Roberts spent the entire night right at the front of the stage. Scott’s selection as Evan’s replacement was inspired. He fits the bill perfectly, looking similar and sounding a lot like his predecessor. With such a good bill, and having recently finished a tour with Suicidal Tendencies, they looked as energetic and passionate about the music and fans as they always have.  This may be a new era for Biohazard, but age hasn’t mellowed them and they will be still be around to show how hardcore should be done. An awesome night, and they say they will be back in the summer. Bring it on!