Poison Everything

Written by: AP on 15/10/2014 14:25:33

Founded last year in Los Angeles, CA, Obliterations are not to be confused with the rising Norwegian death metal crew with the same moniker, sans the S at the end. No, these Southern Californians deal in incendiary hardcore punk of the old school, adding to it their own twist of stoner and blues, thereby justifying their own, telling description of the music as ”Black Sabbath by the way of Black Flag”. It is a natural thing, given Obliterations consist entirely of current and former members of bands such as Black Mountain, Pink Mountaintops & Saviours embracing their mutual love of punk, and as such, well listened readers may already have drawn a comparison to their Southern Lord label mates Burning Love.

Indeed, Burning Love is a name that resounds form virtually every aspect of Obliterations’ debut album “Poison Everything”, whether it be the blood flecked screams of Sam James Velde (who also lends his vocals to home town hard rock act Night Horse), the fuzzy grooves of guitarist Stephen McBean (of the aforementioned Black Mountain), or simply the unending tirade of spit, venom and vitriol that characterises the 13 tracks packed into the record. Opening track “Mind Ain’t Right” immediately elicits the sensation that Obliterations might lapse off the hinge at any moment, its lightning pummel only momentarily giving way to OFF!-esque, mid-tempo bridge; and this feeling is continual throughout the album. This stuff is fast and very pissed off, yet not without interesting nuances like the subdued Kurt Ballou-style melody that rings above the three-chord chops of “The One That Got Away”, the infectious sneering of ”The Narcissist!” in its namesake track, the lumbering stoner metal touches in the Red Fang-recalling instrumentation in the longest and slowest track “Poison Everything” has to offer: “Shame”; or the guitar solo which sears through the heaviest track on the album: “Normalized Decline”.

The off kilter feel to the proceedings is amplified by a pleasantly organic production, which accentuates both the madness in Velde’s vocalisations, and the basement atmosphere of the musical foundation. At the same time, it is warm and welcoming enough so as to not alienate those fans of hardcore punk that might not feel convinced about the likes of Converge, and consequently, songs like “Black Out” and “Head Wound”, furiously though they may thrash the listener, never sound too extreme for airing outside of the underground. Unfortunately, for all of its merits, “Poison Everything” does strike me as somewhat too constrained by its underlying ideology, the persistent repetition of the same three chord pattern beginning to wear thin already halfway through the album, though the aforementioned “Shame” is cleverly placed there to alleviate this impression. The positively frenetic “Ad Nauseum” shortly thereafter emerges as another worthwhile pick, but alas, once the following three songs do their bit to conclude the album, it consolidates itself as the last truly memorable track “Poison Everything” has to offer, with the oddly sludgy, ominously rumbling “Open Casket” in particular leaving a question mark with regard to its relevance to the album’s overall tone.

To its credit, “Poison Everything” takes virtually no time to establish itself as an intriguing piece of music, the fusion of ferocious screams with hirsute 70’s punk-influenced musicianship by McBean and his colleagues, bassist Austin Barber & drummer Flo Schanze, and the well timed incursions into bluesier territory forming a potent palette. What is missing, however, is a greater degree of diversity by, for instance, varying the pace or introducing more solos now McBean happens to possess such skill in the art. Be that as it may, fans of bands like Black Flag, Burning Love, Converge and OFF! will undoubtedly find lots to rave about here, and the record certainly has enough moments to make it well worth batting an eyelid for.


Download: Mind Ain’t Right, The One That Got Away, The Narcissist, Shame, Ad Nauseum
For the fans of: Black Flag, Burning Love, Converge, OFF!, Poison Idea
Listen: Facebook

Release date 13.10.2014
Southern Lord

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