In the wake of Sentenced it’s no surprise that Poisonblack has continued strong, with support from fans of the previous band and has become bigger and bigger in Finland and throughout the world. Many miss the tongue-in-cheek depression that went hand-in-hand with later Sentenced records, at the same time as missing the band that once was. Of Rust and Bones, the new Poisonblack record (the band that features former Sentenced vocalist Ville Laihiala) basically continues on with the Sentenced legacy of mid-paced heavy metal with depressing lyrics, but doesn’t do it with the same kind of conviction or freshness that was embodied by the former band.
By now, I’m sure the band is sick and tired of Sentenced comparisons and, as a reviewer, one is always aware of the fact that certain kind of comparisons are lazy and/or inappropriate. But, like Bruce Dickinson will never escape Iron Maiden (and vice versa), Ville Laihiala was the voice of what was probably one of the greatest bands in Finnish history. So listening to this album its really hard to not think back to later Sentenced material and do the comparisons, and frankly, this isn’t far off. Think about it: it’s mid-paced heavy metal, simplistic riffs and chord progressions. The vocals are the focus of this music, and while Poisonblack has longer songs and is less pop-oriented than, say, The Cold Blue Light was, it is still remarkably similar.
From “My Sun Shines Black” to “The Last Song”, Poisonblack produces markedly similar riffs, vocal melodies and content to Sentenced, but with none of the same energy that existed. To sum it up with one word, the music is boring. It’s basically just a bunch of rehashed heavy metal riffs, rock beats and self-depreciating lyrics. The formula seems pretty simple and the band doesn’t move too far away from it, though some interesting song craftsmanship does actually happen here and there. For the most part, however, the rehashed feel pretty much pervades track after track, turning the record into more of a slog through boredom than an enjoyable listen.
Fundamentally Poisonblack is still stuck on blues-based 70s and 80s hard rock, with the verses for every song just be vehicles for a big, catchy chorus. And that works for them, and if you like that kind of thing you will probably love this. But just like the myriads of bands who are fundamentally stuck on this sound and can’t seem to ever really update it, Poisonblack seems more mired in a rut than anything. One can only write the same song so many times before the boredom starts to set in personally, and that’s pretty much how this sounds. Tired. Bored. Maybe depressed because of too much Koskenkorva and too little sunlight, but whatever the reason, it’s still not compelling.
‘Course, could be that I just don’t get it. I am, indeed, Angry Metal Guy not Sad Metal Guy. Fans of later Sentenced and gothic rock are encouraged to check this band out, but it’s definitely not something I’ll be spinning again. Ever.