Poison the Well - You Come Before You (Cover Artwork)

Poison the Well

You Come Before You (2003)


When I heard that Atlantic Records had picked up Poison the Well, I didn't know whether to laugh or to cry. I have always been a big fan of both the "Opposite of December" and "Tear From the Red", and how any label could make these grindcore/screamo boys into something marketable was beyond me. Even after reading that the heavyweights who produced Refused's masterpiece "The Shape of Punk to Come", I still did not see how their major label debut could carry the old PTW sound, and so with that in mind, I prepared myself to be disappointed by "You Come Before You."

Going in with that mentality was almost the best thing I ever did, because when I first heard the album, I pissed and shit my pants at the same time. "You Come Before You" is a finely tuned and crafted piece of emo-rock/hardcore/screamo/grindcore/whatever you want to call it – art. PTW has put forth a fantastic album, better than any of the same genre that I have heard in a while.

The album opens with "Ghostchant", which is a fantastic song in itself, but it isn't until the next song that the true beauty of the album shines through. "Loved Ones" opens with a raw bass line that would seem trademarked by your more standard pure hardcore bands, and the song continues in this fashion (minus the lyrics of course). Then suddenly, everything halts, the bars on the equalizers drop, and the song shifts from the "being beat to death by bricks" mentality to "falling asleep on the couch listening to Simon & Garfunkel." And just as quick as that happens, PTW flawlessly beings to beat you to death with bricks again. Then just as flawlessly, they go soft again. I have always felt that this was a strong point of PTW, but they have somehow managed to accomplish these transitions even better than they had done in "Opposite of December" and "TFFR."

After a brief little filler (which pops up a few times on the album), PTW opens heavy again, and continues heavy throughout "For a Bandaged Iris." Fans of the heavier side PTW should love this song, as the guitars grind along, the drums pound along, and the vocals chug along, all until the chorus comes in, and then its back to the "TFFR" PTW with harmony and melody galore. Throw in an excellent climax, and this song is a winner.

"Meeting Again For the First Time" is just the song that shows that PTW can be marketable. It's lovely and soft for a bit, enough to the point where my friend actually inquired as to who the band was. It has the extreme quietness, and then gets about as heavy as any song in "TFFR" gets. It flashes between radio-friendly intelligible vocals and standard screaming.

Some songs even ditch the standard PTW format, like "Sounds Like the End of the World" which has hauntingly melodic guitars, with some harmonious vocals underneath some screaming. However, this song in particular drags on and on, and is a little bit to slow and weird to maintain my interest.

Most songs follow this format throughout the song. Soft to hard to soft, or hard to soft to hard. A few songs like "The View From Here is….a Brick Wall" or "Zombies Are Good For Your Health" break the mold when they barely take time to actually slow down at all, and border on just pure hardcore.

This album is essentially a must own for any Poison the Well fan, or any fan of the genre. It is refreshingly new, yet at the same time still familiar ground for the band. Fans of both "Opposite of December" and "Tear From the Red" should be able to swallow the album whole and still demand for more. The production is solid, and not only shows through in the little bits of filler, that pop up a lot i.e. "Sounds Like the End of the World". In the end, "You Come Before You" is an excellent album, and is looking to be a shoo in for my top 10 this year.