In 1998, Montreal's melodic hardcore band and A&M recording artists known as the Doughboys, who had garnered a fair amount of success in the mid-nineties and managed to tour arenas with the Offspring during the alternative music explosion, broke up. The band was made up of two main songwriters, John Kastner and Jonathan Cummins. Kastner went on to form All Systems Go, received all kinds of accolades, full page glossy magazine advertisements and a respectable amount of radio play. Cummins on the other hand more or less faded into obscurity.
Not to say that Mr. Cummins had been inactive. He too went on to form a new power trio under the banner of Bionic. In 2000, Bionic release a self-titled debut that received incredibly positive reviews and was touted as what many thought to be the next big thing. The record was a pop album at heart full of chunky guitar blasts, gruff vocals and candy backing harmonies. But for some reason, Bionic failed to achieve any real commercial success and soldiered on as more of an underground sensation.
A couple of years later Cummins reworked the band's lineup and came out a quartet of heavy rock'n'roll fans. Teaming up with Ian Blurton (best known for his production work on the Weakerthans' albums Left and Leaving and Reconstruction Site) on guitar, Paul Julius on bass and Tim Dwyer on drums, it seemed that Jonathan wanted to take his project in a completely new direction.
Near the end of 2002, Bionic released their redefining album Deliverance in Canada via the Sound King Records label (later released in USA with Thorp Records, 2004). Cummins stated himself that Bionic's goal with this album was to "set out to make a record that I don't think many people make anymore. A heartfelt, passionate rock record that refuses to pander to current trends and bullshit fashions. We didn't want to make a good record, we wanted to make an important record and try and take rock music to a new level of intensity."
Well, Bionic, mission accomplished. Deliverance is the most intense rock record I have heard in quite some time. There's a blend of punk, heavy blues, metal, stoner rock and whatever else you can pull out of the 50-year-old rock'n'roll grab bag. And judging by the massive Marshall stacks on the album cover, you just know that mix is made in a big way. The songs here are loud, technical and ferocious with the full intention to get your lame ass rocking. Cummins' voice is more full of more soul than on anything he's ever done before, but he's developed a throaty, gut wrenching bark that could stand up to anything Europe's death metal scene has to offer.
The candy-coated backing vocals from the debut album are still here and the musicianship is nothing short of mesmerizing. Packed with dueling lead guitars that are careful not to overdo the grooving wankery, a technical and pounding bass pulses along each song giving them that underlying stoner rock vibe, with a drummer who plays with such power and confidence it's almost as if he's hitting that snare with a tree. And between all this sonic force and volume, Bionic manages to fit an impressive arsenal of dynamics in there just to let you rest before the next kick in the ass. After 11 flawless tracks, the album closes out on a slippery 11-minute opus with a hypnotic groove that shows no sign of overindulgence or arty pompousness.
Deliverance is one of the best records of the last five years. It is a shame that the group hasn't achieved greater success and popularity. Bionic have a difficult sound to pin on them. With a nearly impossible sound to accurately describe them, the best thing Kerrang magazine could come up with was "Queens of the Stone Age butt-fucking The Hellacopters with Bad Religion clapping along." I guess if you use your imagination, that's pretty accurate. Anyone who loves a little rock'n'roll intensity mixed in with their punk should not pass this one up.
Turn You Out
Nobody to Blame
Ballad of the Electric Brains
Mission (off of the s/t debut)