For some bands that second album can be a challenge and the sophomore slump is something most would like to avoid. However, Hemotoxin rises to the occasion on their sophomore full-length release, “Biological Enslavement.” Also, this is their first album to be released on one of my favorite metal labels, Unspeakable Axe Records.
The Pittsburg, CA based band has really grown as musicians and songwriters. Taking from various influences, the band molds a technical death/thrash sound that features melodic and progressive elements to add great depth to their songs. I remember seeing them when they opened up for Havok a few years back and I could tell they were trying to tear themselves away from that generic death/thrash label that so many bands just can’t escape from. When I saw them in September of last year, I felt that they were headed in a positive direction musically. “Biological Enslavement,” is an example of their determination, hard work and expanding skill level which makes this release such an amazing listen.
Focusing on the songwriting, Hemotoxin’s whole approach is quite refreshing and the musicianship helps formulate some killer tracks. The album begins with an explosive chord pounding instrumental piece, "Decadence." After a quick transition, song number two, “Regression,” unleashes a wicked sounding guitar riff. I found the vocal presentation to offer tremendous raw emotional expression. The song’s lyrics articulated some very serious political and social topics that demonstrates how metal people are quite informed about the world around them. Track number three “Minus Human” definitely displayed the band’s technical talents, while maintaining a heavy groove. The bass playing especially in the beginning of the song added some extra emphasis to the main guitar riffs.
Track number four, “Not of this World,” opened with a feverish guitar jam and the drumming seemed to be set on rapid fire cruise control the entire time. Following it up, “Forgotten Faces,” featured the two guitar players shredding through various scales as the lyrics happened to leave a vivid statement that stayed with me after the song was finished. One line that stood out was, “How do we determine, the value of human life.” I liked how certain verses that followed played off this one simple statement and really made for a powerful piece of music. As much as the lyrics were my favorite part of track number five, I thought track six, “The Alchemist,” contained some creative and dynamic instrumental compositions from each member. The band dives into an intense thrash tornado of souls and the vocals come roaring through the noise to make truly strong lyrical statements. Plus, I have to give major credit to the exaggerated growl that reminded me of something Chuck Schuldiner would do.
A song like, “Bleak Prognosis,” remains very true to the previous tracks in structure and towards the end the band does not throw in any filler to finish out the release. “A Journey Through Dreams” and “Transparent Eyes” are actually the two tracks I enjoyed the most. I especially need to raise attention to, “A Journey Through Dreams.” Being a fan of instrumental rock and metal songs, I thought Hemotoxin did a spectacular job writing an exciting and engaging instrumental piece. Their use of a variety of tempos and intricate guitar leads kept the music constantly flowing and never sounding redundant or simplistic. The final song “Transparent Eyes,” closed the album by truly raising the aggression bar along with more phenomenal guitar leads.
Hemotoxin’s “Biological Enslavement” happened to be a perfect example of why young up and coming bands need to never give up and keep pushing themselves. Listening to their previous release and this one is almost like night and day. Now, I am not trying to imply that their debut full-length was a massive failure. “Between Forever...and the End,” was a decent first release for a beginning band. However, their talents really came together when making this new album. I think my only critique is, where will they go from here? I mean, how can they out do this album? I hope Hemotoxin continues to find ways to further push themselves as songwriters, because they are on a great path right now. Seriously, get this album and support a band who is truly keeping the passion for technical extreme metal moving forward.
Preview the song "Transparent Eyes" Below:
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