Released: 2003, Century Media
Reviewer: Night of the Realm
Poisonblack is a new band out of Finland with some familiar faces: Sentenced vocalist Ville Laihiala sheds his traditional role and picks up the guitar, and J.P. Leppaluoto, also of Charon, handles vocals. Finishing up the band is Janne Kukkonen on bass. We also have two session musicians, Tarmo Kanerva and Marco Sneck, handling drums and keyboards, respectively.
Let’s get one thing out of the way here: if you’re looking for a metal fix, you might want to look elsewhere – but stick with me for just a bit longer! If melancholic goth-rock with a touch of metal is what you’re after, then you’ve found it. I can tell you that melancholic goth-rock most certainly was NOT what I wanted when I first popped the album in, but I ended up enjoying the album more than I thought I would.
ESCAPEXSTACY is your fairly typical post-Sentenced goth rock, and there are no real surprises here. Many of the songs tend to run together with the same monotonous drone (which I’m sure is “necessary” to capture the “anguish” of the goth aspect...heh), and plenty of “where did the guitars go?” moments as J.P. sneaks in a few vocal lines. Though I find J.P.’s voice to be a little too slick in some places, his vocals have a rich, clean sound instead of whiny and limp.
The strongest tracks on the album are clustered in the beginning. “Glow of the Flames” leads things off on somewhat of a weak, droning step, but starts to pick up towards the end of the track. “Love Infernal” is the first good track, reminding me quite a bit of Type O Negative throughout. The Zakk Wylde-esque solo around the 2:40 mark is a nice treat. In fact, when Ville actually wants to deliver some decent riffs, he can provide them, most often with a certain Zakk Wylde flair to them. “The State” is up next, my favourite of the album. It gets off to a slow dirge-like start, but picks up some good riffs somewhere along the line, which, combined with a great chorus makes for some excellent listening. After “All Else is Hollow,” which features some nice groove-laden guitars, the album starts to slide.
“In Lust” is one of those tracks that doesn’t do anything but meander for five and a half minutes. “Exiter” (Dammit, I though maybe we were going to stand back for Exciter) could be another good track with some aggressive guitars, but the silly keys and geigh spoken/whisper interludes really kill the song. “Lay Your Heart to Rest” is the last great track on the album. This one is very much like “The State,” but with better guitar work. The middle passage and solo really stick out with a forceful groove. The album plummets once again after this into “With Her I Die,” another track that goes nowhere, except for about 30 seconds of a very good, emotional solo starting at 3:09. “Illusion/Dellusion” has somewhat of a ballad feel to it, and sounds like it could have come right from the last Sentenced album, THE COLD WHITE LIGHT. “The Kiss of Death” ends the album with some of the more aggrressive riffs on the album, but only through parts of the track. Unfortunately, the guitars just begin to come alive in the last 30 seconds of the album.
One more thing I enjoy about the CD is the artwork. I absolutely love the cover! The beautiful goth chick with flaming red hair, clad in black leather, and blowing a handful of black feathers around. I wish I knew who she was as she iss acknowledged only as “Mistress Violet.” One more familiar face shows up here; Sentenced drummer Vesa Ranta contributes the photography and artwork for the album. I wish I had a full album in front of me as the layout looks very nice thus far.
Ville Laihiala has stated repeatedly that Poisonblack is not just a side project as he gives Sentenced a temporary rest, so I suspect we shall be hearing more from Poisonblack in the future. Ville has demonstrated that he can lay down some damn good licks if he’d only put his mind to it. ESCAPEXSTACY contains the potential for some good songs to escape if they would only cut the droning sameness that drags much of the album down.