Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 3 June 2016
Review by Quinton Farrow
Poison Headache do not pretend to be something that they are not, they lack pretence and display no gimmicks; the early promotional photos even tried to hide the fact that Phil Sgrosso (As I Lay Dying, Wovenwar) is a member. Poison Headache are not innovators, but they don’t need to be either. They do have a clear purpose though, and that’s to combine the tempo of punk, the abrasive side of metal and the attitude of hardcore. The three piece have been writing songs together since high school, and it really shows as their chemistry is clear, but so is their creative song writing ability and well placed transitions. Where this ends up on their debut self titled release is unnerving, aggressive, very nasty and done very well.
Opening track, Sin Eater, breathes fire from the outset, ominously setting the tone for what will take place with a frenetic punch of furious intent. It doesn’t take Poison Headache very long to surprise the listener though, via a slight drop in pace during the chorus and a captivating guitar riff.
Poison Headache tear through the ten songs in a rapid manner, yet the album highlights come from the mid paced sections. Benumbed, is an instrumental interlude that builds towards a Machine Head like climax, threatening to explode without ever doing so. Discloser, starts with an acoustic introduction similar to territory Baroness excel in; eventually paving the way to a sinister For Whom the Bell Tolls-like riff and a throat bleeding verse.
The surprises keep coming throughout, whether its fleeting solos, clean guitar intros or angular leads. The rhythm section is pummelling, with Kyle Rosa hitting so hard you can nearly hear the lactic acid dripping to the floor. The bass is a little low in the mix and plays largely a supportive role to the drums, and the vocals are primarily hardcore bellows with some variety in the form of textured spoken word sections. Overall the production is dense, and gritty yet clear enough to hear instrumental intricacies.
2016 has so far been a lean year for quality hardcore infused metal, this is easily the best so far.