Poison the Well
Versions

After being chewed up and spit out by the Major Label grinder, metalcore pioneers Poison The Well return to the ‘independent’ scene with their fourth full length album for the far more appropriate Ferret Music. And while the band is still a far cry from their seminal The Opposites of Decemberdebut, their return to the underground is a mixed affair reminiscent of the recent The End record or Cave In’s similar return to their roots, Perfect Pitch Black, where the band’s experimentation mixed with a very slight return to form.

As with Tear Before the Red and You Come Before You, the band is still barely recognizable as the band that arguably help start the Orange County Metalcore sound, and is still a incredibly commercial release, but with a very slight Southern tinge and experimental post rock injections, Versionsis a solid album that shows the band in adventurous form, and are unwilling to stand pat in their style or substance.

While the musical elements have more or less stayed more or less the same, vocalist Jeffrey Moreira actually may have increased his screaming from the last two records, however his performance is still littered with whining, speaking and crooning is a varied but strained performance. Music wise, the band seems to have amped up the aggression a bit for tracks like “Letter Thing”, “The Notches That Create Your Headboard” and “Naïve Monarch”, but at the same time delved further into experimentation as heard on “Breathing’s For the Birds”, “Nagaina” and “Pleading Post” which feature oddly intriguing, sprawling, almost Ennio Morricone sounding guitar lines. It makes for a strangely, less commercial but still mainstream sound. It’s like the band is trying to not be commercial and delivering an awkward experimentation on purpose to show fans they haven’t sold out but still at the same time giving the label and wink and nudge under the table-its seems false I guess. Then there’s just flat out off the wall stuff like “Slow Good Morning”, “You Will Not be Welcomed” and “Riverside” with dreamy programming and pure singing from Moreira.

Still, though the lack of fanfare and fan anticipation for Versionsjust sort of highlights the fact that Poison The Well, despite the legacy of their first album, are hardly relevant in today’s musical scene that picked up where they themselves started off and ran with, and beat it to death. Even with the band’s more experimental sound, which at times sounds like a forced effort to distance themselves from metalcore, is just unconvincing despite it being fairly enjoyable on its own merit.

Still, not bad album. Different? Yes. Would you recognize it as Poison The Well if you didn’t know? Probably not. Would you still enjoy it for what is was (an experimental post rock/hardcore album). Yes.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
October 17th, 2007

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