There’s no pleasing some people. Hotly-tipped Floridian hardcore punk/metal crew Poison The Well have been on the receiving end of all manner of abuse from supposed fans for years now – first, for infusing, gulp, “soft” moments into their otherwise bruising musical maelstrom, and then for signing to, heaven forbid, a major record label.
Well, anyone who listens to Poison The Well’s major label debut and then accuses them of pandering to the pressures of publicity needs a brain implant, their ears syringed and a hefty slap around the chops. You Come Before You is an uncompromising, no-holds barred, beast of an album, that deserves to make these unlikely stars – who go by the decidedly unglamorous names of Derek, Chris, Geoff, Jeffrey and Ryan – massive.
From the moment Ghostchant kicks down the door with its urgent rhythm, rampant, quasi-discordant guitars and paint-stripping vocals, to the artillery attack of closing number, Crystal Lake, there is little let-up in the pace or level of evisceration on offer. In fact, much of You Come Before You is so bone-crushingly heavy that one is left wondering where hardcore ends and thrash metal begins.
However, don’t go getting the idea that Poison The Well, or equally worthy peers such as Norma Jean, are macho metal jocks or angry-for-the-sake-of-it men caught in a pubescent, emotional timewarp. No, Poison The Well shoot from the heart. This means that there are sung interludes that shine light in the screamed darkness and poignant, poetic lyrics pertaining to subjects such as a friend’s death and emotional abuse by a parent:
Sit across from you, why are you even here?
There is no way to make up for the 20 years.
All my days go back to when you would scream.
And it froze me.
Guess the screaming runs in the family.
In fact, when Poison The Well take their foot off the pedal, they are more than capable of bringing a different type of heaviness to the proceedings. Sounds Like The End Of The World is a case in point, its entwined sung and shouted vocals combining with controlled, menacing guitars to haunting effect.
You Come Before You was produced by Pelle Henricsson and Eskil Lovstrom, the Swedish duo who were responsible for Refused‘s legendary The Shape Of Punk To Come album and, more recently, the debut from Hell Is For Heroes. It seems that they are incapable of producing anything less than exceedingly good albums. Let’s hope that this one meets with a little more commercial success than the others.