BIO-TEK

Album: "The Ceremony Of Innocence"
Label: Doppler Effect Records (2001)
Style: Dark EBM/darkwave
Songs: 10

B

Reviewed by: Darklight

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 order.

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.

Album: "Punishment For Decadence"
Label: Doppler Effect Records (1999)
Style: Electroindustrial
Songs: 10

B

Reviewed by: Darklight

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.

 

Album: "Darkness My Name Is"
Label: Zoth Ommog (1997)
Style: Electro industrial
Songs: 11
A

Reviewed by: Darklight

Jonathan 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.

 

Album: "A God Ignored Is A Demon Born" Label: Zoth Ommog (1997)
Style: Electro industrial
Songs: 12
C

Reviewed by: Darklight

This 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 on this.