6/16/2011 - Review by: Eric Compton
Poisonblack are an odd breed aren't they? These Fins have been around long enough to be veterans of the sport and at this point may be approaching the proverbial crossroads. I was such a huge fan of Sentenced, led by current Poisonblack vocalist Ville Laihiala, and really hated to see them go. At the same time Poisonblack have been a welcome addition, now on record five and still digging up graves at the stroke of midnight.
This band has that down and dirty groove that Metallica was looking for in the 90s. Martin Popoff once wrote that Sentenced's "Down" record was the album Metallica should have made. In a lot of ways Poisonblack carries that burden, constantly making albums that are heavy, fresh, energetic and downright moody considering the amount of goth and grime. From the heavy handed albums like "Dead Heavy Day" and "Lust Stained Despair" the band has vaulted into the trenches with a metallic sound that is really hard to describe. The gothic signature is there with Laihiala's charismatic voice and the keys are perfectly placed to one-up Paradise Lost. The heavy groove numbers until now were almost stoner in nature, big swooping down tuned grooves that just pummel and pound like Corrosion Of Conformity, Metallica, Dearly Beheaded (a blast from the past) and even hip Volbeat. But it was so often interrupted by strange song structures and chorus parts that seemed to be so similar that one felt confused on which song was which (at least I did). Perhaps it is this element that confused both fan and label, after record four the band was dropped from heavyweight Century Media and now finds "Drive" on Hype Records and looking at a Scandinavian release only as of May 2011.
Regardless of label push the band have paired with the one man that can really hammer home this band's vision in a modern setting; Tue Madsen. The band traveled to Denmark and recorded at Antfarm Studios under mastermind Madsen (Dark Tranquillity, Mnemic, Ektomorf). This new found sound is the perfect fit to bring out the brush strokes in Poisonblack's creation. "Drive" is one of the better albums (along with "Lust Stained") that does a great job with combining the blue collar metal strokes with the surreal and sometimes atmospheric vocals of Laihiala. Songs like "Pistonhead" and "A Good Day For The Crows" is bone shaking heavy with tons of southern grooves that recalls prime COC, Down and most recently Motorjesus. While those songs shake and roll other cuts like "From Now-Here to Nowhere" are downright dismal in writing, a chilling gothic venture that sounds like Laihiala and the boys stepped off of Sentenced's "Crimson" recording session. I love the downward spiral songs that leave you stirring for the blues, songs like "The Dead End Stream" (preaching everything dies) and "Scars" (perfect for radio today).
I am still out on whether "Drive" is the best of Poisonblack's discography. With this release coming at the onslaught of summer nights and beautiful weather I find this sort of album goes well with the frosty mug of winter. Nevertheless I'm enjoying it and really like the Madsen/Finland combination. What a perfect pairing for this sort of doom swept novel and all backed up by lead-heavy riffs and taunted by the mournful cries of suffering and decay. Damn this band should be huge.
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