There are certain bands that I anticipate new releases from, and Bio-Tek
happens to be one of them. Unfortunately, this fourth Bio-Tek
release is a bit of a disappointment in my opinion. Itís not a bad album
per se, but I was expecting something with a little more punch as Bio-Tek
has always been Jonathan Sharpís energetic and aggressive electro-industrial/EBM
project. However, things have changed quite a bit on this release.
From the albumís artwork to the lyrics and voice samples in the songs,
itís quite apparent that this is a themed recording dealing with the
occult, black magic and overall evil in general. I donít mind this as
Iím a rather dark individual who appreciates art forms dealing with
such subject matter, but this direction has made for a somewhat dreary
and laid back approach in the music.
The CD opens with "Scarlet Tracings" which starts off recorded
at a low level with samples taken from the movie Fallen that are barely
audible. Thankfully, the volume picks up when the haunting melodies
and female chanting come in. Jonathan Sharp arrives shortly with his
growled spoken word approach to his lyrics that overlay the slow and
moody music. Low muffled samples are heard in the mix, but are recorded
so poorly that itís difficult to make them out. Basically, this intro
to the album just doesnít seem as well produced when compared to Bio-Tek
material from the past. The low, almost inaudible, voice samples add
a rather amateurish sound to the music, and the song in general just
seems to be lacking a final polish. But the same could be said for this
entire album. It just feels a little rushed and unfinished with a poor
Track two "Reborn" is a good song in the tradition of older
Bio-Tek material offering fast paced electronic rhythms and beats along
with Jonathanís distorted snarl. Track three "Sorrows Of The Moon"
brings the album back to a crawl again with dreary dark ambient music
and female spoken word. While it does have a place on this CD, the place
is not track three. Track four "Prayer" picks up the energy
again with its quick pace and Jonathanís angry growl. Track five "Caller
Of The Black" is the mandatory instrumental. Fortunately, itís
good with a driving edge and somewhat of a techno sound combined with
voice samples. Track six "Profession Of Violence" slows things
down once again offering cold dark orchestrated music as Jonathan talks
out the lyrics in a mellow style. Track seven "Vengeance Not Victory"
is the stand out track on this album as itís an energetic club
EBM song offering upbeat electronic rhythms and beats along with a combination
of both clear singing and angry snarling. Since Jonathanís clear untreated
singing sounds rather good, it would have been nice if he did it more
here. Track eight "Un Coeur En Hiver" is yet another slow and
mellow dark song very similar to "Profession Of Violence".
Itís so similar, in fact, that it sounds like the same song. Track nine
"Lucifuge Rofocale" picks up the pace again with manic electronic
programming, rapid fire beats and angst filled vocals. Track ten "The
Last Ritual" is a short closing instrumental piece that is made
up of dramatic orchestrated music mixed with voice sampling. Itís a
good way to end the album.
As you can tell from reading this review, this album follows a similar
formula from its beginning to its end. One slow song is followed by
one fast song all the way through. And this just does not work in my
opinion. This overall album sounds like Bio-Tek collided with another
one of Jonathan Sharpís music projects. The songs "Reborn", "Prayer",
"Caller Of The Black", "Vengeance Not Victory" and "Lucifuge
Rofocale" all sound like the tried-and-true Bio-Tek songs we all
know and love. But the songs "Scarlet Tracings", "Sorrows Of The
Moon", "Profession Of Violence", "Un Coeur En Hiver" and "The
Last Ritual" all sound like a darkwave side project.
I really do feel that this album would have worked a lot better if the
songs were in a different order. I dislike how one slow song is followed
by one fast song over and over again. It makes the album feel redundant.
I admit that it was time Jonathan did something different with Bio-Tek,
but Iím not sure that I particularly care for the direction in which
he has taken. While I somewhat like this album just for the fact that
itís really dark, itís not the type of exciting release that Jonathan
usually delivers with Bio-Tek.
Out of all of Jonathan Sharpís music projects, and there are
many, Bio-Tek is my favorite. Bio-Tek is a no frills in-your-face
angry and aggressive dark EBM project that tells it like it is with
no candy coating. While Jonathanís other similar project, New
Mind, has since gone in the more experimental EBM diection,
Bio-Tek is his only remaining project that really has bite. And this
latest offering is no exception.
This is, of course, the best Bio-Tek release so far featuring everything
that makes this project so ass kicking. Harsh electronics, haunting
melodies, rapid fire drum beats and Jonathanís raspy distorted growling
angry vocals. Not to mention lyrics that drive this musical force even
deeper into the darkside. The fetish photographs chosen for the albumís
packaging donít hurt, either.
I will admit that upon first listening to this CD it didnít seem like
a big departure from the previous Bio-Tek release "Darkness
My Name Is". But after giving it a few spins, the variety really
started to shine through. This is indeed Bio-Tek, thereís no denying
that fact. But thereís just enough growth included here to make the
sound a bit more fitting for todayís electro-industrial/dark EBM scene.
Let me get my complaints out of the way early on here. The instrumental
"Razorback" comes in too early as track three. Itís pretty good
with movie samples throughout keeping it somewhat interesting, but it
just doesnít fit as track three in my opinion. And the truth is I could
have done without it entirely as I feel instrumentals have never been
Bio-Tekís strong area. Another gripe here is that a lot of the songs
do tend to sound alike. This has been an ongoing problem with Bio-Tek
since the beginning, and things havenít changed much here. The difference
is that these particular songs are more interesting and entertaining
than a lot of previous Bio-Tek songs.
The cover of Placeboís "Pure Morning" is good for variety,
but Jonathanís vocals are less treated and he sings like heís not taking
the song seriously. This makes the song sound more like something that
would be on a New Mind release as opposed to a Bio-Tek one.
Hands down, without a shred of doubt, the best song offered on this
disc is "Shield". Itís got clubfloor filler written all over
it with energized electronic rhythms and beats overlayed by a cleaner
less distorted vocal delivery. This is a masterpiece, and I would have
liked more songs like it here.
The last few slower more melodic dark and haunting tracks offered here,
including the closing instrumental "Exegesis", are very well
done and are nice for variety. The song "Affirmation" is especially
good with the addition of female vocals. But itís much shorter than
I would have liked.
So what have we learned here? We learned that the songs "Leviathan",
"Eve Black Eve White", "Mary Alice" and "Steel Against Skin"
are all traditional sounding Bio-Tek songs that are good, but nothing
really new or different. We also learned that the tracks "Razorback"
and "Pure Morning" are a bit out of place. And finally we learned
that "Shield" is one of Bio-Tekís greatest songs yet, and hope
that the next Bio-Tek album features more songs like it.
Sharp returns with what I personally feel is his best work yet.
This album is simply amazing. It opens with "Communion"
which starts off this musical journey perfectly. It's extremely emotional
and dramatic with great electronic layering and beautiful keyboard melodies.
It plays at a nice pace while the vocals shout out the lyrics with powerful
intensity. Everything found on this album is good. Each of the songs
are very polished with a high quality to them. The various tracks are
created with fast paced electronic rhythms and beats combined with orchestrated
synth harmonies, samples and growling singing. However, every song manages
to bring in their own unique elements to make them stand out on their
own. Some songs are straight forward dance tracks while others are a
bit more aggressive and experimental with noise elements. But they all
work and compliment the overall album. Nothing is out of place here.
To top this all off this album presents a fresh and original sound.
It's structured dark electro music, but does have its own edge. When
you hear something by Jonathan Sharp it has his trademark sound to it.
While I was disappointed with the previous Bio-Tek release because it
had so many instrumentals and remixes, I am happy to say that there
are only two instrumentals here and no remixes at all. The two instrumentals
are good and do work without the addition of vocals. However, nine of
the songs do feature great vocals that sing well written lyrics that
make you pay close attention to what is being said. The overall mood
of the album is dark, angry and aggressive. While the songs are intense,
they do play at a pace where they are very enjoyable to listen to. They
have energy as well as melody that make them great. If you like electro
industrial music of any kind, this album can't be missed.
is a Jonathan Sharp project. You might be familar with his other band
New Mind. Well, the songs delivered here sound very similar to New Mind.
If you took away the guitars from the songs on New Mind's "Forge"
album you would basically be left with what this album offers. This
is not a bad thing, but it doesn't really sound like a different band.
The material here is electronic with synths, samples and drum programming
included with Jonathan Sharp's distorted angry vocals. These songs could
work on the dance floor due to their energy and pace. I am very pleased
with all of the songs that include vocals, but half of the album is
simply instrumentals and remixes that I could have done without. I have
to admit that I am getting tired of industrial bands flooding their
albums with instrumentals. What happened to having something to say
and getting a point across with the tone of the vocals? I don't feel
it is enough to only do this on a few songs. Tracks with vocals should
always outnumber instrumentals in my opinion. I like a good instrumental
once in a while if it indeed works on its own without vocals, but this
seems to be rare these days. Most instrumentals just sound like filler
to me that I have to skip past to get to the actual songs. This gets
annoying. The lack of vocals in a lot of the material delivered here
makes this album a disappointment. If you don't mind a lot of tracks
that lack vocals you will probably enjoy this album. But if you like
more vocal tracks and less instrumentals then you might want to pass