Considering Poison The Well has had close to fifty member changes over the years, it is amazing how they are still able to preserve the core elements of their music, without falling into the trap of being terribly repetitive like most of the metalcore bands out there. Versions sees them developing a sound that marks their music more diverse than anything else they have released before.
They have abandoned the more straightforward aspects of their earlier work, and to compensate for the lack of ever-present energy, they have incorporated an array of rich instrumentation, including non-metal ingredients like banjo, mandolin, et cetera. This has certainly enhanced the melodic quality of songs like "Letter Thing" and "Breathing's for the Birds", both of which seamlessly juxtapose their aggressive vocal stylings and intense guitar riffery with more cultivated melodic arrangements and escalating synth parts. While the brutal aggression certainly takes a secondary role here, the clever arrangements and solid production work perfectly to highlight the music on the entire album.
Chris Hornbrook's drumming and percussion throughout the CD is stunning, especially on the two shorter cuts "Prematurito El Baby" and "Composer Meet Corpse", complete with killer sound effects and rhythmic clusters. As for Ryan Primack's guitar work, he starts most of the tunes with clean acoustic intros, as on "Nagaina" -- a strong mixture of sludge-driven riffage and pain-ridden vocals -- and "Pleading Post", arguably the zenith of this album in that it fills large spacey sections with myriad background noises propelled by enigmatic vocal shifts and super melodic guitar transitions. Having had too many problems with their prior bassists, Primack also handles the bass duties on the album, but honestly, the bass sound on the CD is buried way too deep and barely audible on some of the songs. The band would be wise to find a full-time bassist for the future.
The album's most eclectic song is "Slow Good Morning", where the band distills weird sounds into acidic dissonant forays. The banjo and modulating keyboard melody in the background form the backbone to the otherwise acoustically driven composition. Minimalistic riffs make up most of "You Will Not Be Welcomed" while "Riverside" is a pure ballad that will even surprise the long-time Poison The Well fan, but it's very well done and a fitting piece before the poweful finale.
If you like metalcore that transcends this limited genre and brings in lots of variety, you shouldn't pass Versions up.
- Letter Thing
- Breathing's for the Birds
- The Notches That Create Your Headboard
- Pleading Post
- Slow Good Morning
- Prematurito El Baby
- Composer Meet Corpse
- You Will Not Be Welcomed
- Naive Monarch
- The First Day of My Second Life