Released: 2006, Century Media Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
With Sentenced now dead and buried, Ville Laihiala can focus his attention on his other band, Poisonblack, a hard-rocking gothic outfit ripe with melodic hooks and infectious choruses. J.P. Leppaluoto sang on Poisonblack’s 2003 debut, ESCAPEXSTACY, but Laihaila is now on vocals making LUST STAINED DESPAIR, for all intents and purposes, sound like a lighter, more commercially-friendly version of the last two Sentenced albums. The lyrics, while far less dismal than Sentenced’s wrist-slitting output, are firmly rooted in dark gothic imagery and the keyboards of Marco Sneck provide a haunting sense of atmosphere. LUST STAINED DESPAIR is extremely bass heavy and the guitars of Laihiala and Janne Markus crunch with a powerful vigor thanks to the stellar mixing and mastering job by Tue Madsen. Sentenced fans that enjoyed the band’s more melodic epics will be suitably impressed by LUST STAINED DESPAIR and can find solace in hearing Laihiala growling in despair once again.
The killer opening riff and driving groove of “Nothing Else Remains” would not be out of place on Sentenced’s THE COLD WHITE LIGHT album. Antti Remes and Tarmo Kanerva provide a rock-solid rhythm section here, one that carries the album on its shoulders and is reminiscent of the sound achieved by Nightwish on ONCE. A chorus as catchy as “Hollow Be My Name” should come with an inoculation as the guitar squeals and Laihiala’s voice propel the song directly to memory. Remes’ heavy, throbbing bass during the verses of “The Darkest Lie” give the woofers a solid workout while Laihiala adds a soaring guitar solo that showcases he has more to offer than just his voice. “Rush,” a single if I’ve ever heard one, allows Laihiala to run the gauntlet with his vocal range, hitting a clean vocal, sinister spoken word, deep croon and his trademark growl. “Nail” is chock full of heavy riffs and metallic fervor but the melancholy melodies and gothic keyboards perfectly bridge the gap between the two angles of Poisonblack’s sound. Laihiala really lets loose with a scorching guitar performance on “Soul In Flames.” The riffs are biting and the sizzling solo is dripping with 80s retro influences. “Pain Becomes Me,” an acoustic ballad featuring only the keyboards of Sneck and Laihiala’s voice, is as dreary as anything Sentenced ever recorded. “Love Controlled Despair” shifts between a H.I.M.-like melancholy verse and a harder-edged chorus evoking mid-nineties Depeche Mode.
In an ironic twist, LUST STAINED DESPAIR is one of the most shimmering moments from an artist who made a career out of preaching utter hopelessness. Without a bad song in the bunch, Poisonblack’s new album is dark, but accessible and the thick, meaty production results in a vastly superior album to ESCAPEXSTACY. Ville Laihiala’s vocals are time-tested and a better suit for Poisonblack, as well. His guitarwork, which was never fully realized in Sentenced, is given free reign here and Laihiala utilizes plenty of crushing power chords, pinch harmonics and sturdy riffs to create a formidable entity in his Sentenced after-life.
KILLER KUTS: “Nothing Else Remains,” “Hollow Be Thy Name,” “The Darkest Lie,” “Rush,” Nail,” “Soul In Flames,” “Never Enough”