Biohazard / Heights / Lionheart / Dripback

3 February 2012

Camden Underworld, London


We’d been anticipating another sighting of Dripback since they confirmed on stage at their show with Lock Up over Christmas that they would be back with Biohazard.  What we hadn’t expected was two further bands to join the bill, meaning Dripback had to take the stage 5mins after the doors opened at 6.35pm.


It could have been easy to let a sparse venue affect Dripback’s performance, but the Londoners get on with it.  Frontman Wez instantly took on his zombie style swaying, blew out a snot ball and sarcastically noted, “This is all the people that don’t watch Hollyoakes.That’s why you’re here early!”


Dripback Dripback Dripback


Each time we encounter the band we’re becoming more familiar with the newer material and Whimper hit home hard early in the set.  With the band bathed in red light, Wez traded off yapping vocals with bassist Adam Sagir’s guttural growl.  The lights switched to blue for Stig as a slow intro built into speedy riffing with guitarists Lee and Luca Gdrax nodding away under baseball caps.


High was simply brutal, followed by the more familiar Dilapidated Soul, with a now busy Underworld applauding the band from the stage.


Dripback setlist:

PO? / No God, No Master / Whimper / Kick Out Time / Stig / High / Dilapidated Soul


With the Persistence European tour package, also featuring amongst others Suicidal Tendencies, Terror and Walls Of Jericho, not stopping in the UK, Biohazard had tagged on their own UK dates and joining them from the package was Californian’s Lionheart.


The Sacramento five piece’s sound could wrestle amongst the metallic hardcore of Merauder, Hatebreed or Sworn Enemy with a punishing guitar sound from Rob McCarthy and Earl Pitts.  “Wake up London, let’s go!” bellowed one of the two guitarists as Pure Anger lived up to it’s name with drummer Jay Scott inflicting maximum damage on his kit with flailing arms.


Lionheart Lionheart Lionheart


Frontman Rob Watson stalked the stage barking out lyrics during the songs and delivered lengthy props to the other bands on the bill between them.  By Wasteland the first pit of the evening opened.  At the song’s mid section breakdown, one of the guitarists noted, “You muthaf**kers know what to do”, with a circle pit opening around the venues centre ceiling post.


Teasing the crowd with the opening riff to Metallica’s Sad But True, Lionheart break into Relentless which sadly turns out to be the last song of the set, with the band only using 24 minutes of their half hour set.


Lionheart setlist:

Introducing / Pure Anger / The Bend Before The Break / Wasteland / Built On Struggle / Relentless / Brothers Keeper


By contrast to the other bands tonight, Heights seem a bit out of place and indeed frontman Thomas Debaere noted, “We usually play to a different type of crowd to you”.  The Hertfordshire based post-hardcore band look incredibly fresh faced, with a combined weight possibly close to a single Lionheart guitarist.


Whilst comparatively their visual bark may seem a bit Scrappy-Doo, aurally the five piece certainly bite.  Bounding around the stage to the opening metallic riffs of Eye For An Eye, at its breakdown the band mount the monitors holding the roof and leaning into the crowd, before heading into post-hardcore territories as the song wound to its conclusion.


Hights Hights Hights


Whist the majority of those here look on suspiciously, a group of Heights fans lose themselves to the likes of Forget and Dead Ends.  Whilst not particularly my cup of tea and in particular finding Debaere’s vocals grating quite quickly, for those into this type of band, Heights would certainly be worth checking out and I could not fault the effort tonight.


Heights setlist:

Eye For An Eye / These Streets? / Forget / Dead Ends / Oceans / The Lost & Alone / ?


Having completed recording comeback album Reborn In Defiance last year, it must have come as something of a shock to Biohazard when vocalist/bassist Evan Seinfeld announced his departure from the band.  With dates already booked, the band looked to former guitarist Scott Roberts to step into Seinfeld’s shoes.  This seemed quite literal when I caught the band last year at both Download and the Metal Hammer Awards boat trip, with Roberts dressing like Seinfeld and many around me not realising there was a change of personnel.  Whilst applauding Biohazard for soldiering on, something didn’t seem quite right at those shows, with an air of nervousness around the performances.


With time to regroup, reassess and get a run of live dates under their belt, Biohazard’s return to our shores however was far more cohesive.  Roberts now actually looked like himself and had been moved stage right, letting vocalist/guitarist Billy Graziadei take centre stage in the frontman role.  This is a role Graziadei has seemingly taken on with ease and it was a supercharged Biohazard that tore the Underworld a new one tonight.


Biohazard Biohazard Biohazard


Opening with Urban Discipline, a simple, “What’s up London?” was an invitation for chaos with the crowd going off big style.  Whilst this meant a very tough time for the photographers (hence the limited shots), it’s party time for stage invaders and crowd surfers.  Security installed at either side of the stage’s primary role was to pick up anything the enthusiastic crowd knocked over and ensure nobody outstayed their welcome.


It obviously looked a lot of fun from the stage with Graziadei diving into the crowd with his guitar mid song, something he repeated a number of times throughout the set.  Stage left, guitarist Bobby Hambel was bouncing and spinning around in circles as Chamber Spins Three powered by with Graziadei stood on top of the monitors.  At its close the house lights were raised with a shout of “Put your hands up London.”


Noting the band’s new album was available for free with a visit to their Facebook page, Graziadei led the band into the first new track of the evening Reborn and whilst it may not be as familiar to everyone in this crowd yet, it still led to a stage invasion.  Mid song following a trip into the crowd Graziadei ditched his guitar and finished the song with just the microphone.


Other new songs aired tonight were Come Alive and the very trademark Biohazard sounding Vengeance Is Mine.  Aside from those, everything else is taken from the band’s classic first three albums.It was trips to the band’s debut that I personally savoured, with a punishing Retribution and a rare outing for Howard Beach.


Biohazard Biohazard


There was an enforced change of Danny’s behind the drum kit for the UK shows, with long time drummer Danny Schuler back home for the birth of his son.  Sworn Enemy’s Danny Lamagna did a sterling job and most have enjoyed watching the mayhem unfold from his vantage point at the back of the stage.


Although meant for a classic line up comeback, Biohazard’s new album title Reborn In Defiance fit as a summation of this show perfectly.  I haven’t seen old school chaos like tonight in a long time and Biohazard themselves seemed rejuvenated.It appears there is certainly life after Seinfeld for Biohazard after all.


Biohazard setlist:

Failed Territory (intro) / Urban Discipline / What Makes Us Tick / Chamber Spins Three / Reborn / Black & White & Red All Over / Down for Life / Retribution / Come Alive / Vengeance Is Mine / Shades Of Grey / Howard Beach / Tales From The Hardside / Love Denied / Punishment / Hold My Own