Album: Poison Blood
Record Label: Relapse
Release date: August 11 2017
1. The Scourge and the Gestalt
2. Deformed Lights
3. Myths From the Desert
4. A Cracked and Desolate Sky
6. Shelter Beneath the Sea
7. From the Lash
8. Circles of Salt
Poison Blood was described to me initially (and erroneously, as it turns out) as a ‘black metal/hardcore crossover supergroup’ , so I naturally felt it was my sworn duty to investigate further. What I soon discovered was a surprisingly radio-friendly – especially the main melody of the stunning piece of songwriting that is ‘Circles of Salt’ – exercise in cross-genre aggression.
At no point in the 8-track, 19-minute duration of the EP can I safely say “I am now listening to a (insert genre) album”. ‘The Scourge and the Gestalt’ kicks things off with deathrock-meets-black-‘n-roll riffing, but psychedelia, blues and electronica all soon vie for the spotlight. The dungeon synth influence the duo list in their official label bio  is especially felt in the synth instrumental ‘The Flower of Serpents’ – the unsettling nature of which best matches the gorgeous illustration adorning the album cover. At its heavier moments, like ‘A Cracked and Desolate Sky’ or ‘Shelter Beneath the Sea’ I find myself tempted to compare Poison Blood with the likes of Anaal Nathrakh or Kunstzone, but these are short-lived in the overarching theme of nonconformist abstracted noise.
Given the experimental approach favoured by Jenks Miller on his primary band, Horseback , it’s no surprise that Poison Blood follows a similar recipe, only a little heavier – and where Horseback delivers fully-realised main courses, the songs on Poison Blood tend to be more like hors d’oeuvres – short, bite-size appetizers. The under-a-minute duration of ‘Shelter Beneath the Sea’, which could easily evolve into a four-minute epic of grinding destruction, illustrates this perfectly.
So the end result isn’t particularly black metal, or hardcore, or even deserving of a supergroup status – but it is very listenable: the whole record feels a bit like a movie trailer – a short introduction to what will hopefully develop into a much longer conversation one day. The constant shifts in tempo, tone and style may be distracting at first, but they disguise some stellar musicianship.
1. Although Neill Jameson’s resumé may list some impressive black metal bands, from Nachtmystium to Krieg, I would hardly say he is a trve kvlt household name.
2. See here.
3. A good introduction, combining blackened sludge with bluesy riff-driven ambience can be heard here.