Review Summary: Late 90's metalcore that defined the genre over the next 10 years.
Perhaps the most frequent qualm from the punk community about metal music is the lack of obvious emotion poured into the music. In the 80’s the punks became obsessed with being generally angry while metal heads would try and see who could play the longest guitar solos. Fortunately, there were some music fans who realized the ability to harness the raw emotions of hardcore punk and the blazing technicality of heavy metal and form it into an intense genre now known as metalcore. Some bands, namely The Dillinger Escape Plan, took the genre in a highly technical direction with ever changing time signatures, complexities and intricacies. Then there the other principal splinter in metalcore. Those bands picked up the emo and post-hardcore influences while still largely retaining the famous “chugga-chugga” riffing. Poison The Well can be accredited with popularizing that second variety.
Poison The Well came out of Florida in 1998 with Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder and shocked the musical world’s perception of what metalcore could be. The EP managed to posses every bit of extreme, seething, ferocious hatred every member of the band felt while still creating audible heartbreak with every sputtered syllable and every blistering chord. The lyrics never fail to reflect the tone set by the music itself. It is rare that on any subgenre of punk you can find lyrics that run from such opposite ends of the emotional spectrum. Whether it is the feeling of such abysmal uselessness in Grain of Salt,
”Another attempt and love remains unrequited./ Why do I even bother"”
Or the venom laden fury at the rich in Material Christ
”Your so-called meager life is plagued with riches.”
The listener is bombarded with images of the band’s emotional turmoil. The means that the lyrics are presented through doesn’t lose any of the power that the lyrics have. There are times where the vocals will go from one rapacious scream, to back up clean vocalists, to the occasional female backing vocals to a gang scream. The fact that screams frequently accompany the clean back up vocals, and commonly with the same lyrics, provides a unique contrast and emphasis on those sections.
Poison The Well’s importance over the 21st century is undeniable, and can all be traced back to this EP. Since then they have gone on to release five successful albums that have evolved on the sounds that this release, and their first full length were built upon, (same say they sold out) but they might not have released anything since this that is so raw, so primal, and so god damn punk.