Poison The Well


Written by: PP on 02/04/2007 16:55:12

Poison The Well have come a long way since their critically acclaimed debut "The Opposite Of December", which is rather mistakenly hailed as one of the best hardcore albums ever written, not because it isn't a great album, but because it was the start of what today is one of the most popular genres around, namely metalcore. That term just didn't exist back in the day. And as Poison The Well have been battling continuous nightmare scenarios in the last five years (a dozen member changes and a fallout with their major label), the entire genre has homogenized itself into a group of Iron Maiden/Metallica wannabe's with screamed out vocals. So while the Trivium's and Avenged Sevenfold's have been focusing on recycling the heavy metal solos and hooks, Poison The Well have been hard at work in their Northern Swedish hideout writing the album of their career, an album so exhilirating and complex that it is bound to create legions of copycat bands in the future, and here I'm of course talking about "Versions", which lands in stores today.

The easy way out for Poison The Well would have been to recreate the melodic ferocity of "You Come Before You" and sell a million records. Their major-label fight might have raised some eyebrows, but "Versions" finally answers that question why we've waited for its surfacing this long. It is an entirely different take on the genre - and one that is unlikely to go platinum any time soon - but it is one of those grower kind of albums, that'll take months to hit you and eventually will be considered as one of the most influential albums of 2007. "Letter Thing" opens the album with messy distortion-filled experimentalism which sounds like nothing like this genre has heard before. It's unpredictable, it's raw, and it's thought-provokingly experimental as the promo sheet nicely puts it. We're talking strange instruments like mandolins and banjo all in the midst of the delivery that at first seems chaotic, but once studied in depth will show impeccable organization. "Nagaina" is an utterly strange slow song with the kind of sound that shouldn't sound good but it does. It's so odd that its melody spellbinds the listener, complete with Moreira's calming vocals as if he was trying to hypnotize you.

"The Notches That Create Your Headboard" is an in-your-face hardcore piece, displaying the bands more aggressive and brutal side from their past. It's a furious track that's hard to make friends with, but will reward you with the kind of break down your walls-type energy and passion once it has grown on you. In direct contrast, "Slow Good Morning" lives up to its title alright. It's soft, silent and calm, has acoustic guitars and depicts a Mexican-sunrise/siesta type of vibe, where you could easily imagine a bunch of dudes relaxing under their massive sombres aside all-white buildings near the desert. It's one of the most experimental songs on the album, and also one of the best once it grows on you. Moreira shows his soft side again, and odd instruments like the banjo are added to further complicate the already stupifying atmosphere, not much unlike that displayed on Fear Before The March Of Flames' latest album. "Prematurito El Baby" is perhaps the most "You Come Before Me" style song with plenty of melodic screaming contrasted by the clean vocal choruses and extreme breakdowns, and likely to suit most to the younger Poison The Well fans, whereas "Composer Meet Corpse" is hardcore/metalcore fusion in your face, though dressed in an intriguingly intelligent structure and an aura of strange sounds and samples, in effect making it a benchmark for future bands to try to recreate and modify. The melody, the fury, and the experimentalism have been blended together to create something truly unique. Like one review cleverly put it: "It sounds like someone blew up a barn full of country instruments".

"Versions" has been said to be the next step forward for the entire genre, and after a month of listening time, I'm becoming more and more convinced it is. It's a damn hard album to like because it's so different from everything else metalcore has to offer, but it is also unique and extremely rewarding once you get into it. The amount of reviews scored this perfect or next to perfect are in the dozens, maybe even hundreds. Forget about catchy, memorable songs, and take a look at the future of the genre at your doorsteps that Fear Before The March Of Flames foreshadowed already last year: Gloomy and hookless, ultra-experimental and avant-garde, complicated enough to make a PhD owner confused, but nonetheless an amazing piece of artistic perfection.

Download: Letter Thing, Slow Good Morning, The Notches That Create Your Headboard
For the fans of: Fear Before The March Of Flames, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Burst
Listen: Myspace

Release date 02.04.2007

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