You may not have thought it but Beherit brings people together, much like Christmas and accounts of drunken excess. A mutual affinity for the Finnish blackened barbarians drew Neill Jameson of Krieg and Jenks Miller of Horseback into collaborating on a new project called Poison Blood. Tales of the occult are spun through the medium of black metal but Miller, particularly, draws from a repertoire far beyond that which is typical for the genre. Relapse Records aren’t exactly the most underground label so I suspected there would be something unpredictable about Poison Blood to garner such label attention.
Poison Blood sets up in the black metal camp but its gnarled roots extend under boundary fences, drawing from punk’s dynamism and ’70s rock’s warmth. Tremolo–picked guitars and blast beats are indeed present but the result is a far cry from rural Norwegian winters. More accurate adjectives include bouncy, groovy and fun. The enthusiasm is palpable and faux organs are prevalent as blackened tools are used to forge something immensely lively and likable. In this way, it reminds me of Hail Spirit Noir.
Nonetheless, good stuff though this may be, it’s also incredibly fragmented. The EP is distinctly half-baked, even by EP standards, with snippets which could easily have been built into strong songs. Boredom is truly impossible given these brief snapshots only run for 19 minutes in total but I have a particular feeling that it could have been so much more. “Shelter Beneath the Sea” offers the most frenzied, cathartic explosion but it finishes after just 52 seconds which feels like wasted potential. And “From the Lash” has a different outro featuring the dense layering of noise and electronic effects which could have been built into more of a set–piece.
But I suppose Poison Blood is to be regarded as a taster for things to come. In that sense, it functions well as I find myself directing how particular tracks and moments would fit into a full-length. The opening two tracks would serve as the bouncier, groovier ’70s–influenced parts, while “A Cracked and Desolate Sky” and the other blackened tracks would heighten the record’s threat and aggression. The synth and distortion–dominated conclusion, “Circles of Salt,” would be a great interlude as a dark breather. In fact, the only throwaway is the strange and discordant dungeon synth track called “The Flower of Serpents.” I’m not quite sure why it’s here but I suppose it could be a sound integrated into a more normal track to interesting effect.
Perhaps my complaints can be boiled down to simply wanting more Poison Blood. The range of influences orbiting their blackened core make for something unexpected yet appealing and the fun vibes differentiate them from most other black metal written. I hope this project won’t fall by the wayside of Krieg and Horseback as it has real legs.