Review Summary: A seminal release from a highly overlooked band..
Reborn, released in 1997, was a crucial record for the band. Already well established, releasing three well-received albums. They had toured with death metal pioneers Malevolent Creation, created a well-respected underground fan base and then found themselves at a crossroads. After their release of their third album, Inhabit, their lead singer/bassist left and went on a three year hiatus.
It was at this time, they initiated a stark change in their sound with their guitarist, Bruce Fitzhugh, stepping in as lead singer. On their previous albums they had evolved into a death/thrash band with a singer who had constantly experimented with his voice from a pure thrash style to a guttural death metal growl.
Little did they know they were about to release their seminal album that would change their sound forever, creating a formula for which all the future albums would follow. The music on this album laid the framework for what would eventually be labeled metalcore, before that style became a dominant genre in the metal scene. Far ahead of their time, only a handful of other bands had flirted with this style such as Sepultura on Roots and Pantera on Far Beyond Driven, while none of those bands would ever be considered what 'metalcore' is today.
This album is a fine balance of thrash metal and death metal, mixed with memorable breakdowns, samples, and industrial sounding noise. To try and lump this album into any one category would be superficial, as while on paper, it sounds like 'metalcore', it is so much more than that. First of all, there are no whiny vocals entwined with growling, there is a multitude of complex riffs, off-time drumming, and even remnants of their former death metal sound carried over in part making this quite a rewarding listen.
The album opens up with one of the finest tracks on the album, 'Reborn Empowered'. The song starts with a near minute long intro of dissonant guitars and drums, before tearing in with an unchained aggression that does not stop for the majority of the album. A fine way to re-introduce themselves.
The second song 'Truth Solution', starts out with an absolutely hypnotic riff, that is mesmerizing, another standout track on the album.
To not break down into a song by song review, this album has many strong songs, with their 'single' that they made a video for, 'Reject'. Returning to their thrash/death roots, the final track 'Liar', doesn't let up for one second, being by far the heaviest track on the album.
The production is one the highlights of the album. It maintains a rawness rarely heard on metal releases now. In this day and age, an album like this would most likely be considered 'under-produced' or badly engineered. However, it contains a gritty edge that actually works for it. This album packs a punch musically to allow the listener to forgive any qualms they may have with the 'sound' of some particular instrument, much like any of the classic metal albums from the 80's and 90's era.
The only complaint that I can find with this album, is Bruce Fitzhugh's voice doesn't change much from song to song, as most of the vocals are in the same register. Some of the weaker songs drag, sounding like left over riffs from the stronger tracks on the album. But overall, an amazing album, that is highly overlooked, from a band that is still putting out stellar albums 23 years into their career.