Poison the Well - _Versions_
(Ferret Music, 2007)
by: Jackie Smit (8 out of 10)
Before heavy music's often over-crowded morass regurgitated a legion of immitators in their likeness, Poison the Well were one of the IT-bands of the day; a name you could quite confidently pick out of any line-up of rising stars tipped for greatness. Despite all the buzz however, commercial success has proven rather more ellusive; their last record, _You Come Before You_, got them on to MTV, but they've certainly gotten nowhere near the glorious peaks that were predicted for them when they first sprang on to the scene.

Their fifth full-length, _Versions_, plays like Converge with the hangover from hell. At times it's a snub-nosed exorcism of frustration and anger -- "Letter Thing" and "Naïve Monarch" are a melee of surgically precise polyrhythms and discordance. These tracks have their place on the record, but more poignant are the moments where Poison the Well play to their major strength, which has always been an ability to inject whatever they do with an almost noir-ish atmosphere. Deftones could only wish that they had written a song like "Breathing's for the Birds", while the emotive crescendo on "You Will Not Be Welcomed" is perhaps an album highlight.

On the odd occassion they ride the coat-tails of a good idea for too long; "Slow Good Morning" is commendable for its experimenting with different instruments, but loses its way badly at the mid-point. For the vast majority of its duration however, _Versions_ takes post-hardcore away from the emo nerds and shows us what could and should have been. Put another way, had Fugazi recorded this as a follow-up to _The Argument_, I would not have been disappointed.

Contact: http://www.myspace.com/poisonthewell

(article published 25/3/2007)

7/5/2008 J Smit Poison the Well: Last Chance for a Slow Dance
9/3/2009 J Smit 7.5 Poison the Well - The Tropic Rot
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