Biohazard alumnus Billy Graziadei caused quite a pleasant rumpus with his debut solo offering, Feed The Fire, in 2018. He’s back in 2022 with a new album, Leaders and Liars, and I’m pleased to report that it’s largely business as normal for our booming-voiced hero.

That means more of the same, of course, but in real terms that’s nothing to complain about as Graziadei knows what he does best, and does it incredibly well. In fact the squalling NYHC of Deception, which lands mid-album but really deserves to be this record’s leadoff track, such is it’s joyous impact, will come to be seen in the fullness of time to be one of Billy’s best forays into the field; it’s got strong competition for that particular plaudit, of course, but it’s a tribute to the man’s songwriting maturity and development that he can churn out material as essentially elemental as this yet still build and improve on what’s gone before.

In fact the central core of the record, ushered in by the experimental sound collage Sheepdog, must count as the strong point of Leaders and Liars, as the metal inflections of Generation Kill and the more melodically-minded Looking Up create the axis around which the rest of the record turns. Brilliant songs all, they highlight the enduring appeal of NYHC as a musical form even as it enters it’s fifth decade of existence.

For this reviewer, the rest of the material doesn’t quite reach the heights of this trio, but when you can right material as strong as One Life To Live, Our Scene and the title track and have it written off by tired old hacks such as myself as mere ‘album track fodder’ you’re in a pretty strong position as an artist; the bottom line is Leaders and Liars is one of those rare beasts in 2022; a front-to-back, beginning-to-end pearler of cohesive songwriting and top draw performances that draws the listener in from second one of opener Black Out and doesn’t let go until the final seconds of closer Cyanide fade into the ether. In other words: it’s a ripsnorting success of a record…

Leaders and Liars releases on March 25th.