Sunday Old School: Biohazard
Band Photo: Biohazard (?)
Nowadays, the idea of crossing heavy music with rap conjures up visions of the nu metal fad in the late 90s/early 2000s, with the likes of Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park springing to mind, bands which are less than popular amongst many fans of heavy music. However, in the late 80s and early 90s, the idea was fresh and many bands were able to fuse the love of both genres, including Anthrax, Faith No More and Body Count. One of the first bands to incorporate rap music permanently into their brand of sonic assault, was Brooklyn’s own, Biohazard.
Biohazard was formed in 1987 by bassist/vocalist Evan Seinfeld, drummer Anthony Meo and guitarist Bobby Hambel, with Billy Graziadei joining as a second guitarist and vocalist soon afterwards. The band released their first demo the next year and were immediately met with criticism and accusations of promoting fascist and white supremacist messages (a contradiction in terms since Seinfeld is Jewish.) The lyrics in question were later revealed to an attempt to impress fellow Brooklyn group, Carnivore (led by future Type O Negative frontman, Peter Steele) and their fan base and the band soon distanced themselves from these early songs, eventually adopting an anti-racist message. Before they had even released a full length, the Biohazard found themselves on the receiving end of many bans in New York, with promoters worried their shows would lead to violence. Despite, or perhaps because of, this reputation, the four piece were offered a deal by Maze Records and released their self-titled, debut album in 1990.
The release of the album allowed them to tour in Europe, an experience which would open their eyes to the fact that the urban decay they had experienced at home was not a unique thing. With this knowledge in mind, the band set to work on their next album, "Urban Discipline," which was released in 1992, this time through Roadrunner Records (with whom long time friends Mucky Pup had helped to arrange a deal.) The album was a hit, helped largely by the single, "Punishment" receiving regular airplay on the MTV show, Headbanger’s Ball. The success also led to the band performing with a variation of bands from Sick of It All to Kyuss to rap stars House of Pain. Supporting House Of Pain was not to be their only contact with rappers either, as the band twice teamed up with the hardcore rap group, Onyx, recording the songs, "Slam" and "Judgement Night," the latter of which was the title track for a 1993 movie, though the soundtrack proved to be far more popular and successful.
Their relationship with the rap world continued to blossom when Cypress Hill member Sen Dog appeared on the single, "How It Is" from their next album, "State of The World Address," which was released through major label Warner Brothers and proved to be another hit record, selling over one million copies. Despite the success, Hambel decided to take leave of the group, leaving Biohazard to record their next album, "Mata Leao" as a three piece, which, while acclaimed, did not meet the sales of it’s two preceding albums. Following a live record, "No Holds Barred," the band parted ways with Warner Brothers and found themselves signing with Mercury, though this was to prove to be a short partnership, lasting only one album, "New World Disorder," before relations became strained.
After a few years of touring independently, the band eventually signed with SPV/Steamhammer Records, through which they released, "Uncivilization" in 2001. The album boasted appearances from metal stars such as Phil Anselmo (Pantera,) Derrick Green, Andreas Kisser and Igor Cavalera (Sepultura,) and Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed) amongst others. The album was somewhat successful, leading the band to tour with Hatebreed and Agnostic Front, as well as forging a more positive relationship with their label, one which would see them release two more albums, "Kill or Be Killed" (2003) and "Means To An End" (2005) before calling it a day soon afterwards. The members experimented in a variety of projects following the dissolution, including Graziadei venturing into trip hop and Seinfeld managing their career of his then wife, pornographic actress, Tera Patrick, as well as continuing his own acting career by appearing regularly in the acclaimed HBO series, "Oz" and even acting in porn himself under the name, Spyder Jonez. In 2008 however, Biohazard announced that they would be reforming with first album’s lineup, with plans for a new album also revealed. Now, in 2011, Biohazard are finally ready to release their first album in six years, with a September release being declared. Despite this short wait for the record, frontman Seinfeld shocked fans this past week, by announcing that he was leaving the group, leaving the band to utilize the talents of Scott Roberts until a permanent replacement is revealed. Whether or not the new album is a success or whether the group has any luck with a new frontman remains to be seen, but in the meantime, fans can be happy that one of the most original bands in heavy metal and hardcore is back.
Biohazard - "Urban Discipline"
Biohazard - "Tales From The Hard Side"
Biohazard and Onyx - "Judgement Night"
Biohazard - "Sellout"
Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.
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