on April 25, 2007
These guys have really done it this time. Anyone who's followed PTW over the years has been treated to constant progression. They've decided to follow their hearts instead of following what many of their fans and the industry have demanded.
With 'You Come Before You,' PTW broke away from being thought of as a Hardcore band. With 'Versions' PTW has crept into a totally different territory. The more you listen to this album, the more you will be amazed by how refreshingly unique it is.
The music goes from surreal to epic to disturbing to powerful, and never stays in one emotion long enough to let you get comfortable.
It's truly inspiring to see this band innovate when they could just as easily dumb it down to sell a few more CDs. I get the feeling that these guys understand how short life is, and realize that there is no point in messing around with mediocrity.
This album will surely get buried under all the other garbage that's being released. But hey, that's alright. Because for the small group of people that are touched by this music, it'll be profoundly rewarding.
on April 23, 2007
If PTW's 1st album "The Opposite of December" would've been released in 2003, it would've been a commercial giant. That was one of the most ground-breaking and influential albums in melodic hardcore, metalcore, or whatever genre you want to call it. Unfortunately PTW did not share the commercial success that other bands (Shadows Fall, Atreyu, Underoath, Killswitch Engage, As I Lay Dying) had during that time.
"Versions," likewise, is way ahead of its time. It's really the 1st album, at least that I've heard, to fuse country w/ metal & hardcore. This album has the band stepping into uncharted territory. The use of twangy guitars, banjos, and horns add a different flavor to the album without being over-used, as evident on "Slow Good Morning" & "Riverside." Songs like "Letter Thing" & "The Notches that Create Your Headboard" are fast, driving tunes that'll please vintage PTW fans. "Nagiana" starts off a a laid back, soothing track that continues to build into an intense climax. The album also has Ryan doing some new riffing and Jeff using a vocal style that is a perfect mix of his melodic singing and his screaming. My favorite song on the album is "Prematurito El Baby."
This album probably will not be a commercial success, but it may very well have the same impact on heavy that "The Opposite of December" had. Pick this album up. Give it a few listens. You'll be impressed. I guarantee it.
on April 12, 2007
First off, just get this album.
Then listen, and enjoy.
You'll then notice that the more you listen, the better it gets. If you're liking parts, after a few listens you'll probably be enjoying the entire album. Eventually you'll realize just how incredible this album is. Then later on, a radio is turned on, you wince, and long for this CD or something of similar high caliber.
In summary, this is not a business venture, but rather it's innovation and originality. It is music.
on October 2, 2007
With the current metalcore scene producing a new band every minute, each one tuning their guitars just as low as the last one, it's easy to get lost. Someone screams indiscernibly over pounding double bass, which then alternates with a catchy, melodic anthem of a chorus, and the occasional breakdown is thrown in for good measure. The formula sounds great for about 15 minutes, after which the monotony takes over and the repetitive hollow structures start blending the interchangeable songs into a calculated blur, leaving you desperate for something with actual substance. Going to see a show with four metalcore bands on the bill can be like listening to Atreyu on your iPod on the way to the venue, to see an Atreyu tribute band open for Atreyu. When the house music blasts over the PA in between sets, you're probably in store for some more Atreyu.
So it's great to hear one of the bands who pioneered the genre, continuing to break new ground, unafraid of pushing the envelope even further. On their new album Versions, Miami veterans Poison The Well largely abandon the hardcore roots that they had already begun shying away from on 2003's You Come Before You. Instead of the slow, chunky palm-muted riffs that were so heavily featured on their earlier work, Versions finds guitarist Ryan Primack employing a more blues-influenced style, exploring the whole spectrum of his instrument. Like the dirty tone and dissonant chord voicings used to such brutal effect by bands like Tomahawk, it's less of a swampy crunch and more of a spaghetti western jangle. It's loud, noisy, and beautifully discordant, but most of all, it doesn't sound like anything their peers are doing.
The band also experiments with new instruments to produce some surprising textures, like the brass and guiro combination in "Riverside," or the Portishead-esque Rhodes in "You Will Not Be Welcomed." The frantic tambourine in "Letter Thing" might even be reminiscent of a hyper blues hoedown, if not for Jeff Moreira's brutal screams that propel the song`s breakneck pace, begging, "Give me sunshine, make me happy." His vocals always preserve the delicate balance between a restrained, brooding tension, and completely over-the-top, end-of-the-world screeching. Where the album sometimes falls short is the band's reluctance to allow the occasional memorable sing-along choruses that were so carefully distributed throughout You Come Before You. The strange and ambiguous tonalities that make up the bulk of these songs are refreshingly original, but a smattering of more accessible hooks could better sustain the sense of balance throughout.
Versions has a spectacular range, from the hushed and twisted atmosphere created by "Slow Good Morning" to the trademark earth-shaking cacophony of songs like "Naïve Monarch." In a scene so plagued by imitators with no real depth, we rely on bands like Poison The Well to remind us why we got into heavy music in the first place, and to hopefully revitalize the genre for everyone else. No one expects them to rehash their past work, which is a blessing in a way, because an album like Tear From The Red wouldn't have nearly the emotional impact today that it did five years ago. It puts the band in the perfect position to create whatever kind of music they want to, and luckily the gamble pays off. In the end, it's as impossible as it is pointless to compare Versions to their back catalogue, so I think it's enough to say that it stands up perfectly well on its own.
on June 2, 2007
Considering Poison The Well has had close to fifty member changes over the years, it is amazing how they are still able to preserve the core elements of their music, without falling into the trap of being terribly repetitive like most of the metalcore bands out there. Versions sees them developing a sound that marks their music more diverse than anything else they have released before.
They have abandoned the more straightforward aspects of their earlier work, and to compensate for the lack of ever-present energy, they have incorporated an array of rich instrumentation, including non-metal ingredients like banjo, mandolin, et cetera. This has certainly enhanced the melodic quality of songs like "Letter Thing" and "Breathing's for the Birds", both of which seamlessly juxtapose their aggressive vocal stylings and intense guitar riffery with more cultivated melodic arrangements and escalating synth parts. While the brutal aggression certainly takes a secondary role here, the clever arrangements and solid production work perfectly to highlight the music on the entire album.
Chris Hornbrook's drumming and percussion throughout the CD is stunning, especially on the two shorter cuts "Prematurito El Baby" and "Composer Meet Corpse", complete with killer sound effects and rhythmic clusters. As for Ryan Primack's guitar work, he starts most of the tunes with clean acoustic intros, as on "Nagaina" -- a strong mixture of sludge-driven riffage and pain-ridden vocals -- and "Pleading Post", arguably the zenith of this album in that it fills large spacey sections with myriad background noises propelled by enigmatic vocal shifts and super melodic guitar transitions. Having had too many problems with their prior bassists, Primack also handles the bass duties on the album, but honestly, the bass sound on the CD is buried way too deep and barely audible on some of the songs. The band would be wise to find a full-time bassist for the future.
The album's most eclectic song is "Slow Good Morning", where the band distills weird sounds into acidic dissonant forays. The banjo and modulating keyboard melody in the background form the backbone to the otherwise acoustically driven composition. Minimalistic riffs make up most of "You Will Not Be Welcomed" while "Riverside" is a pure ballad that will even surprise the long-time Poison The Well fan, but it's very well done and a fitting piece before the poweful finale.
If you like metalcore that transcends this limited genre and brings in lots of variety, you shouldn't pass Versions up.
on April 28, 2008
With their previous album, Poison the Well allocated all of their energy and creativity to create an album that emits pure atmosphere. Each track transitioned perfectly into each other, and the listener never had to skip tracks. Their newest album "Versions", is Poison the Well's re-birth of sorts. While maintaining their rough edges and actually emphasizing them by using a style of production that is more straight forward. Tracks like "Nagaina", "Slow Good Morning" and even "The First Day of My Second Life" are good examples of how Poison the Well continue to push the boundaries of their music.
on April 4, 2007
After listening to this album about five times through I have come to the conclusion that this is and yet isn't the same band that put out You Come Before You. From The Opposite of December to Tear From the Red, PTW mainly stayed with the same sound. Albeit more polished the sound was mostly the same.
Enter, You Come Before You. Some PTW fans said they sold out or wholly changed their sound. I disagreed personaly and felt that the sound in YCBY was just a progession you could hear coming from December to Tear From the Red. YCBY wasn't as aggressive musicaly as December by a long shot, nore I dare say was it close to Tear. But, you could listen to YCBY and KNOW that it was a PTW album.
With Versions, I'm not sure the same could be said. The sounds are complicated, which I love, but its also a very large progressive step forward in sound for PTW that it may leave some original fans struggling to keep up.
I want to say the album is overly complex and thus a hard listen, but this isn't true. It's both simplistic and complex at the same time. Aggressive and laid back all mixed up within a 12 track record that ultimately leaves me wanting a sound harkening back to the harder edged sound they grew famous for in their previous three albums.
Honestly I will say that I had felt PTW had reached their peak with YCBY. The sound they started with in December wasn't going to get more upscale allowing them to introduce trumpets or mandolins as they do in Versions. YCBY was not an overly simplistic album, but at the same time had enough sounds orchestrated into it as to not make it a boring straight forward listen.
When I close my eyes and listen carefully to the lyrics in Versions I am reminded this is indeed a PTW album. The sound just doesn't echo the same sentiment. I do like Versions, but I don't see it outplaying YCBY. This is a much more melodic and sinister, deeply moody album. The aggression is still there, the sound, to me, just doesn't back it up.
on April 3, 2007
With only 3 members they have created a great album from start to finish. "Letter Thing" has to be one of the greatest openers on any PTW disc. You could try and describe this record in many ways but why not listen to it instead and just enjoy the ride they take you on. Lots of slide guitars and Ryan once again demonstrates why he doesn't need a typical metalcore guitar sound to make this record heavy as balls. Jeff destroys every track and runs a clinic on how to balance melody with brutal screams. I absolutely love how he knows right when to let it loose on the right words at the right part of the song. Each song has it's own life that build into these great walls of chaos. Versions is creative and original (who can say that these days) and shows that PTW not only helped build this great genre but can put two bullets in it's head and take it somewhere completely different and still make it one of the most enjoyable whatever-core albums you'll hear. Give it a swing.
on September 17, 2010
Poison the Well was regarded as one of the "heaviest" hardcore/metalcore band with releases like "The Opposite of December" bringing forth some of the heaviest sounding hardcore songs ever released within the genre. Poison the Well began to slowly drift into new sounds and explore new territory when they released their album "You Come Before You". On "You Come Before You", the band begin to experiment with a completely different style than what was present on their earlier releases. Many fans were turned off with the sound that was present on the album, but the band was actually able to gain new fans in the process due to the new style they had begun to incorporate into their music.
"Versions" marks the complete emergence of a brand new Poison the Well. No longer sounding like the same band that brought its fans tracks like "Botchla", "Nerdy", and "Slice Paper Wrists", all of which utilized a hardcore style yell done with fast paced riffs, drum patterns, and vocal distortion, to truly amplify the "heaviness" of the band in the past. With "You Come Before You", Jeffrey Moreira had begun to experiment with an easier to understand, less distorted form of screaming, as well as the inclusion of clean vocals every now and then. The result was something unique, something new for the band to explore further, and that's exactly what they chose to do with the release of "Versions".
Following in the footsteps setup by "You Come Before You", "Versions" is a much slower, melodic album than what Poison the Well had done in the past. The tracks are easier to follow, and the vocals are much clearer and easier to understand than in the past. Jeffrey Moreira uses a lot of clean singing on this album, both for the choruses and verses of several of the tracks. In fact, the majority of the songs feature clean singing in some shape and form and at some point during their playtime.
Stand out tracks include "Riverside" (a very slow, relaxing track that is comprised out of very soothing lyrics, and a smooth sounding guitar accompaniment), "The First Day of My Second Life" (a track that blends the clean vocals and screaming vocals quite well), "Letter Thing" (a fast paced, hard hitting track) and "Breathing's For the Birds" (a very melodic track that has a somewhat "haunting" tone to it). The album is worth listening to from start to finish, and even fans of older Poison the Well albums will find some great songs to listen to, if they take the time to listen to the album with a truly open mind to new sounds.
If you're looking for a good, melodic, original, and somewhat relaxing album, "Versions" is the perfect album to pick up. The songs range from heavy and fast, to much slower and peaceful sounding. The instrument work accompanies the vocals perfectly, accentuating them spotlessly, making the overall tone truly reach out to the listeners. "Versions" is something new for the band, an experimental release in terms of sound and style as a whole, but the straying away from their original sound did not hurt them as much as fans would like to claim. In fact, it seems as if "Versions" may stand out as one of the band's best releases to date.
on July 5, 2008
Wurlizer piano? Horns? Mandolins and banjos? After listening to this album all the way through, I was glad they mentioned what instruments they used on the CD jacket. I was very impressed with the boundaries they crossed into new ground giving the listener so much more to digest. It's amazing what happens when one of the two original guitarists leaves, what the other one is capable of on his own. Enter "Versions."
Even though I enjoyed their last album, "You Come Before You", this album blows it out of the water and is a step beyond as a return to form. They return to some heavier, rocked out riffs, but they do it without all the cliche hardcore tags they had on them like double kick bass, palm-muted guitar and constant screaming lyrics of love and hate. The vocalist has that anger in him from their previous efforts like "Tear From The Red" and "The Opposite of December", but lyrically on "Versions", it's so much more in-depth and very intriguing, (such songs like "Nagaina" and "Riverside"). The music just brings it all together, and I had my doubts about what it would sound like, I thought they might lose a step in songwriting because the one guitarist left, but I was wrong. The remaining guitarist exceeded any doubt I had, and proved to me he has the capabilities make some of the most creative arrangements, (not to mention all the different instruments they used).
I highly suggest this album to old fans of PTW, and new ones trying to give them a chance. This album is very diverse, but it still maintains it's own unique sound. There's nothing like this out there at all.