Released on 30 November 2018 on AFM Records. The album was made be available as CD; black gatefold vinyl (limited to 400 units); orange gatefold vinyl (limited to 400 units) and orange/black splatter gatefold vinyl (limited to 200 units).
Like most, I’ve known Billy Graziadei from Biohazard for years. Their 2003 album Kill or be Killed is still a favourite.
After years writing and playing with Biohazard, Blu, Powerflo and a handful of other musical projects, and armed with an audio engineering degree running Firewater Studios where he continues to cultivate his talent while producing upcoming bands, Graziadei has finally created his first solo album.
“I’ve always wanted to do a solo release and the timing of everything that I have been working on just seemed to fall in place. With BillyBio, it’s 100% me. No influence from anyone else. This is who I am and what I’ve become. I’m a product of everyone I’ve met, talked with, shared my stories with…and a bit of their stories as well.”
The album opens with a sound effect of people marching behind a speech taken from the Charlie Chaplin movie The Great Dictator (1940), “The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people”. Then, blam! “Freedom’s never free” (track 1) bursts into life. It has everything you need from a hardcore song: fast riffs, shouted vocals, crowd-sung choruses, halftime breakdowns. It’s a good opener.
The title track “Feed the fire” (track 2) is a slower, more melodic track that doesn’t quite move me. It has a nice widdily solo about halfway through.
“No apologies, no regrets” (track 3) opens with another sound effect: church bell and cityscape, then a fabulously dark and sleazy guitar riff that gets overtaken by a thrashing bass guitar and the song-proper rattles into life. The song alternates between fast and slow with the trademark hardcore crowd-sung song-title chorus.
“Generation Z” (track 4) oddly reminds me of latter-day folk metal band Skyclad! It’s a bouncy, pop-y and melodic song with slightly gruff vocals that for me doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the album. Maybe it’ll grow on me.
“Sick and tired” (track 5) is exactly how I feel writing this today! But what a song! It’s heavy and hard-hitting straight off the blocks. It’s one of the standout tracks on the album for me.
“Remedy” (track 6) is a very short (33 seconds) track that opens with a whisper-y female vocal, “If I can’t die” overlaid with a fabulous dirty guitar riff and heavily processed bass guitar. It is sublime and all too short.
“Sodality” (track 7) feels like a fairly standard hardcore song. Except that this is Billy Graziadei that we’re talking about so everything about it is quality. It has the passion, it has a short, sharp shock guitar solo, it bounces, it is heavy as. Good stuff.
“Rise and slay” (track 8) opens slowly. Guitars. Gruff vocal rant spat out to a simple melody. Then a fabulously tight guitar riff and pounding drums.
“STFU” (track 9) is, again, another solid hardcore offering but doesn’t really go anywhere new. “Trepidation” (track 10), however. opens with a weird sound effect and gentle guitar riff that dawns into a sweet melody and more than a little experimentation. It’s wonderful. More of this please, Mr G.
“Untruth” (track 11) has, for me, a much better balance between heavy and melody than “No apologies…”. It is exciting. It takes me back immediately to when I first heard Biohazard in the mid- to late-80s. It is slower, it pounds, but dagnamit! it leaves its mark.
“Enemy” (track 12) opens with a tribal-sounding sound effect. “The enemy has to be defeated…” and then nearly three-minutes of pure punk and the crowd-sung choruses are back.
The album closer, “Disaffected world” (track 13) has a slower, sadder and almost doom-metal feel, in between episodes of frantic verses. The last 90 seconds of the track sound like what the post-apocalyptic holocaust will give us. It is unnerving and unsettling.
There are some moments of sheer genius and utter beauty on this album, “Remedy”, for example. And some moments of experimentation and real genre cross-overs, like “Trepidation”. The rest is good, solid and safe hardcore. As the man himself said, it’s 100% him, pulling together all his influences, the product of everyone he’s ever met.
I would have liked to hear more of the experimental, the songs that go somewhere new and explore new territories than the generic hardcore formula of intro-angry riffs-crowd sung chorus-repeat.
That said, when Mr G does that… really, does anyone do it better?
Review score: 85%
Judith Fisher at BJF contacted me (cough, last year) inviting me to preview BillyBio’s recently released album, which I was delighted about. I have no connections to either party. I’m not being paid to review this. But I did get a free digital copy of the album to review which is pretty cool. Many thanks to Judith Fisher at BJF, and to BillyBio for creating some fresh, exciting music.