Poison the Well - Versions (Cover Artwork)

Poison the Well

Poison the Well: VersionsVersions (2007)
Ferret Records

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:

Contributed by: InaGreendaseBrian
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Here in the present, post-Deadguy era of heavy music it's fair to say 'metalcore' has a bit of an ugly connotation. Swedish metal riffs, breakdowns, and tough guy posturing are traits run through the ringer, but seemingly in response to such lazy rehashing, bands that arguably derive from that genre.
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Here in the present, post-Deadguy era of heavy music it's fair to say 'metalcore' has a bit of an ugly connotation. Swedish metal riffs, breakdowns, and tough guy posturing are traits run through the ringer, but seemingly in response to such lazy rehashing, bands that arguably derive from that genre are finally taking chances and producing impressive, ambitious albums.

When Poison the Well delve into their standard, heavy groove on Versions, it sounds worlds more intense, honest, and convicted than what they've already been heralded for laying to tape on a number of previous albums. Cuts like opener "Letter Thing" are just that: cuts, and deep ones at that. In that particular song, a brief, speedy riff precedes Jeffrey Moreira alternately shouting, bellowing, and screaming lines that race across the track, and his accompanying cacophony does not let up for a pointless breakdown -- it's just unadulterated, full throttle for those three minutes, albeit with a slightly slowed down bridge section which even then gallops along with a unique, loose edge. "Composer Meet Corpse" is Snapcase basted in distortion and a consequential chokehold all the same.

An elaborate array of instrumentation, with everything from banjo to keyboards to horns, adds a mild country flair to some of Versions' experimental breaks, of which there's quite a few. "Slow Good Morning" is one of the most bizarre, pounding with mighty, Isis-like riffs and a comfortable twang throughout; it's a ballad for an Icelandic saloon if there ever was one. "Riverside" is equally appropriate for an old-fashioned Western showdown. Much like Boy Sets Fire's "So Long and Thanks for the Crutches," the horns are completely unexpected when used and yet, complement the songs' eerie, sadistic vibes; the same could likely be said for the other multiple instruments wielded. Many of these more odd takes last for quite a few minutes, but their creepy, entrancing moods offer a strangely calculated restraint to Versions' otherwise intense outlook. "Nagaina" lets classic/prog-styled riffs wail away while Moreira tiptoes through the track singing in a completely non-ironic, non-cheesy style, and that's important: So many bands opt to clean singing simply for the radio-friendly chorus, but when Poison the Well do it, it's merely pushing the band into darker, more menacing and unfamiliar waters. If Poison the Well isn't 'relaxing' for an entire track's duration front to back, however, it's because Moreira is breaking out in a vein-busting fit, as in "Breathing's for the Birds" when he abruptly spits "no matter the things I say / I've cared for you all my life"; he unloads like this quite often, too, and the dynamic it provides Versions with is unmatched.

It seems as though Poison the Well let a severe Glassjaw inspiration lie dormant for several years and finally unleashes it here as well. Many of Versions' more atmospheric, practically space-rock numbers are doused with a heavy Worship and Tribute scent. However, the harder songs sometimes receive the same treatment -- the shaky blast of "Prematurito el Baby" shanks with the panicking clatter of factory metal riffs. Additionally, when Moreira croons, it's often in careful, measured bursts parallel to Daryl Palumbo's sultry warble (i.e. "Pleading Post"); in fact, the aforementioned pair of "Slow Good Morning" and "Riverside" sounds exactly like the Head Automatica pop prince is guesting on the tracks. But even when Moreira steps back momentarily in Poison the Well's straight-up hardcore metal rumbles he also flashes shades of a signature Palumbo freakout session.

With its cadet blue icebergs adorning its digipak artwork, Versions wouldn't look completely out of place in a Hydra Head Records catalog when one considers it's the home of much of Cave In's discography. It's this kind of presentation and overall quality that makes Versions special -- nevermind it's authored by a veteran band (whittled down to three members, no less) who helped usher in the new wave of a sound only to abandon it, destroy it, and rework it from the ground up.

Letter Thing
Breathing's for the Birds
The Notches That Create Your Headboard
Pleading Post


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
meitang (October 25, 2010)

JULIstone is a China Stone Manufacturer which supply Granite Tile,Paving Stone, Granite Paving, Polished Granite ,may be you can choose something.

epoch (April 21, 2009)

I used to really love these guys so I picked this up and was pleasantly surprised. This is a great evolution, much better songwriting than previous releases.

"You Will Not be Welcomed" is the hilight of the album; it reminds me of something Thrice would have put on Vheissu.

RedElephant (May 26, 2007)

this album took much too long to come out. well worth the wait though.

at first i was disappointed.. but this could be one of their best albums.

Allular (April 17, 2007)

By the way, I totally don't by the Glassjaw inspiration thing. Glassjaw has a certain "groove" to them ("Ape Dos Mil", "Trailer Park Jesus"), something that Poison The Well certaintly doesn't possess.

Allular (April 17, 2007)

I agree. This record is meant to be played loudly.

Cheesetits (April 16, 2007)

I've liked everything they have done since Opposite of December came out, and this album pleasantly surprises me. Although I think if I would have heard this a few years ago I would have been pissed, but you learn to accept and embrace experimentation as you get older, and this just plain works, with perfect timing. Listen to this loud and with an open mind.

elephantdwarf (April 16, 2007)

this album totally caught me off guard. i hate the rest of their albums, but i gave this one a shot, and was actually pleasantly surprised.

and on a side note to the guy comment below mine... from autumn to ashes sucked when they first came out, and they continue to suck to this day. there is nothing "amazing" about them.

Anonymous (April 16, 2007)

The new From Autumn To Ashes album is amazing and hard as fuck! Why isn't there a review of that yet? I thought it would have been the worst album that came out this year since the old singer got kicked out of the bad, but it was a big surprise.

Kursk (April 16, 2007)

I just want to comment AGAIN how incredible this album is (with the exception of "Pleading Post" that song just seems out of place and it doesn't feel right next to all the other songs). I also want to say I was shitfaced last night and the only thing that kept me focused enough to safely drive home was listening to "Riverside" on repeat.

Versions>You Come Before You>Tear From the Red>The Opposite of december>I never listened to any older stuff they have than that

Hey_Asshole (April 15, 2007)

fucking retarded.

tenwestchaser (April 15, 2007)

Glassjaw is my favorite band and I do not hear any of them on this record. This CD is amazing and it is the furthest thing from metalcore.

Anonymous (April 15, 2007)

'letter thing' rips. haven't given this many full listens yet but that is a great opener.

nocigar (April 15, 2007)

I never got into this band, I could never get into this band, I doubt this release will change anything

Anonymous (April 15, 2007)

Great album. These guys really took their sound to a new level.

Anonymous (April 15, 2007)

i do think there were at least two songs on this album that i feel skippable... other than that, it's fucking brilliant.

everyone makes such a huge deal about there being a "country" influence on this album, or the fact that they used banjos and horns. when in fact they did it all in a very subtle way.

it's not oooh look at me i'm doing something different. they do it cause they know that it'll actually add to the overall experience of the song as a whole.

i've been with ptw since the beginning (though slightly out of order). i got Opposite of December, then You Come Before You (it was actually Amazon's fault, i'd order Tear From The Red but they sent me that in mistake, i didn't complain..), then Tear From The Red....... and have been patiently awaiting this album since.

it's just shows a solid progression of a band as they've grown up. i fuckin love ptw.. one of my favorite band period.

bombshoes (April 15, 2007)

i feel weird listening to this album because i grew out of their older stuff so long ago, but this album is pretty brilliant. it's been a long time since i've listened to an album and not felt like skipping a single song.

Anonymous (April 14, 2007)

Love it. I'm so glad the bullshit metalcore is done with. Here's to growing up.

eatdogs (April 14, 2007)

no no no. that is just not true. old all the way to new is good. you can see how they progressed. heck, look back on the first ep and then go to what they are now and it is a solid progression. they couldn't be the same always, but their are some people who hold the old stuff close to them. i actually embrace their entire catalogue and think tha everything is a solid effort. it makes me proud that these guys have evolved so much. you just can't write off their past like what you said. most of the fans came into them when those older albums had just come out. i for one can attest to that. tear from the red was my first hearing of these guys. i actually read about them in a guitar world issue back in the summer of 2002. they had an article on 'emo' and thrice, thursday, the used, glassjaw, and poison the well were mentioned. PTW became my favorite out of the bunch.

Big_Guy (April 14, 2007)

everything before You Come Before You is fucking awful

eatdogs (April 14, 2007)

i know this is way out of the subject of the new PTW cd, but i'm currently listening to gamface's cd "three to get ready" and it is blowing my mind. the site here needs a review for that cd.

LeightonESmith (April 14, 2007)

I found this really difficult to listen to. There is no instant gratificiation. I'll need to give this a couple more listens when i'm in the "right frame of mind".

trailerparkjesus (April 14, 2007)

From what I'm getting in these comments and my knowledge of Brians relationship with PTW, it seems like the fans for this album are really unconventional. PTW went into uncharted territory with this album, got a lot more experimental, and now all the kids who loved their first few albums for being straight up metalcore are pissed off.

Well, I guess this is evolution at its finest. Score is for the album.

danperrone (April 14, 2007)

they recorded the entirety of opposite of december out of tune

eatdogs (April 14, 2007)

the wall of sound in this album is epic. really really heavy and not in just a loud or riff kind of way. like the reviewer said, it's all mixed so well that every aspect of this record is grand. welcome back PTW.

Big_Guy (April 13, 2007)

dont think they can ever write a song like nerdy again from the opposite of december album again....just an incredible song i still get chills.

that song, along with that whole album is nowhere near as good as their last two albums

Albert_Belle (April 13, 2007)

Well it's not necessarily bad...but it's not that great either.

Kursk (April 13, 2007)

this entire album is fucking incredible, every song is unique and distinguishable and at the same time is so well executed that it makes this album easily their best. As of right now the only album this year I know will beat if out in my book will be the new A Wilhelm Scream.

benz (April 13, 2007)

I'm sort of impressed. "Letter Thing" sounds almost like modern Converge.


JamieCouch (April 13, 2007)

dont think they can ever write a song like nerdy again from the opposite of december album again....just an incredible song i still get chills.

moneenerd (April 13, 2007)

way too good for Ferret

freesandwich (April 13, 2007)


Anonymous (April 13, 2007)

Tom Gabel is anti-semitic? Where did you hear this?

Anonymous (April 13, 2007)

I really like the cover art. Score's for that.

Greenvandal (April 13, 2007)

Tom Gabel is an anti-semite cokehead. You heard it here.

Big_Guy (April 13, 2007)

this album rules so hard

Anonymous (April 13, 2007)

I am so very, very sick of metalcore. It's interesting...I shy away from anything labeled "metalcore", yet I like metal, and hardcore. And, I like music described as "metallic hardcore". Obviously, there's some element missing from the genre name. Maybe...Pop-Metalcore. I guess "fashioncore" is satisfactory, but since all the bands I like pretty much have a distinct "fashion" (i.e. unwashed home-made Nausea shirts, patched-up hoodies), so that doesn't work. Meh

Anonymous (April 13, 2007)

the first two are great but after that .....shit.

superskabro (April 13, 2007)

I saw Poison the Well five years ago on the Plea for Peace Tour, and the crowd was just a bunch of violent hillbillies. Seriously. two or three fights broke out during PTW's set. Plus, their lead singer was sick, so a Roadie sang. I was just so distressed that hillbillies were there. They have Nickelback and Korn and Mushroomhead to listen to. Why do they have to work their way into shows I like?

Anonymous (April 13, 2007)

i actually think the slow songs are among the better tracks on this album. Poison the Well have really grown beyond their original sound, and have really separated themselves from their previous "nu-metalcore" contemporaries.....bands like From Autumn To Ashes or Killswitch Engage, who just seem to be putting out the same damn album over and over again.

i might be a little too eager to compare them to what the Deftones were doing about 8 years ago, but yeah. deftones comparison for sure. they started out as a fairly stock pop-metalcore band at the beginning of the boom, and now they're branching out on their own.

Anonymous (April 13, 2007)

the opposite of december was so good.

colton (April 13, 2007)

Poison the Well released something good? I don't believe you.

Allular (April 13, 2007)

Easily one of the biggest surprises for me this year. Freakin' solid album and heavy as hell too.

Anonymous (April 13, 2007)

the more i listen to this.. the more little details i discover about it that make me appreciate it more.

tracks aren't as diverse as You Come Before You... but it's still an amazing album. definately a step forward for the band.

Breathings For The Birds is my favorite.

Anonymous (April 13, 2007)

how come there is no PUNK reviews this week on PUNKnews.org

Anonymous (April 13, 2007)

Horrible album. Even my lame Metalcore friends cant stand this terrible record.

SilentStorms (April 13, 2007)

I heard 2 songs on MySpace and thought they sounded like the band was digressing. They didn't suck, but I thought if they were on the last album they would be the worst songs. Maybe I should check again. I still think Tear From The Red was their best album. Ensue onslaught by readers who like The Opposite of December more.

GlassPipeMurder (April 13, 2007)

Seemed pretty hit or miss...some of the slow song i can't stand.

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