Review Summary: When you find your nuts you hold on to the damn things.
Darkseed are one of those bands that just won’t go away. Somehow they’ve managed to survive eighteen years while continuously churning out the same generic gothic rock album. If anyone has ever made a joke about the gothic rock genre, Darkseed have probably taken it and included it in their music as a serious addition to their sound. They’ve toyed with female backing vocals, electronics, deep vocals, death growls, pseudo-depressing lyrics and mainstream H.I.M.-style hooks, but nothing has ever really worked for them.
As they say, though, every squirrel eventually finds his nuts, and Darkseed have found theirs on occasion. It almost seemed as though the band were onto something with Diving into Darkness
and Ultimate Darkness
when they married a strong electro-industrial foundation with catchy power chords and multi-faceted vocals pushed through a goth aesthetic, but they dumped the entire formula. In keeping with the squirrel metaphor, Darkseed’s actions would be like if the squirrel found his nuts and quickly ignored them in favor of playing with the cat – Poison Awaits
is the remains of one very stupid squirrel.
A lot of Darkseed’s best moments have been due to their many different vocal styles working in tandem to create interesting contrasts, but that barely even comes into play here. Instead, they’ve opted to virtually eliminate the death growls in order to stick almost exclusively with the clean vocals while relegating the grittier metal vocals to a support role. The band even manages to get away with it for a few songs, but the album eventually becomes painfully redundant. This feeling of redundancy is amplified by the band’s decision to remove the electronics and throttle back on the heavy riffs in favor of a very upbeat and mainstream (i.e. neutered) approach that centers around a race to get to the choruses as quick as possible. If there is one positive to that approach, it is that the choruses are pretty strong and definitely memorable. Unfortunately, unless you’re shooting for pop stardom, catchy choruses just aren’t enough.
All of which brings us back to the fundamental question – if our metaphorical squirrel has turned out to be much more similar to a lemming, how is he still here? Of course, there has to be an explanation for the band’s cockroach-like ability to persevere but you’re not going to find the answer on Poison Awaits
. Everything on this album points to a band with absolutely no interest in doing anything but goth-by-the-numbers. The songs are built around strong choruses, but every other aspect is accomplished in such a safe and predictable manner that it doesn’t really matter. Darkseed have shown signs of breaking out of their rut in the past, but Poison Remains
seems to show that they’re really quite happy living in their hole while defying logic with their longevity.