POISONBLACK
"A Dead Heavy Day"

(Century Media)

01. Intro
02. Diane
03. Left Behind
04. Bear The Cross
05. A Dead Heavy Day
06. Me Myself And I
07. X
08. Human-Compost
09. The Days Between
10. Hatelove
11. Low Life
12. Only You Can Tear Me Apart

RATING: 8/10

Whether it is the now-defunct SENTENCED or POISONBLACK, it is the presence of vocalist/guitarist Ville Laihiala that is always felt so strongly and gives an album its unique flavor. Given that Laihiala's writing is all over "A Dead Heavy Day", it is no wonder that the disc is so full of great hooks and the temperature so damn cold.

Just as prominent this time around though is that POISONBLACK's third album rocks like a son of a bitch! Dense, chunky riffs, thick and propulsive bass lines, and thunderous drumming define this mostly hard-driving collection of songs and are just as important as the catchy melodies and chilled feel of the somewhat understated keyboard playing of Marco Sneck. More than just a one-single album, "Bear the Cross" (the actual lead single), "Diane", and "Left Behind" are just three examples of this band's knack for writing heavy, goth-tinged rockers with big hooks. The same applies to songs like "Human-Compost" (with one especially cool changeup) and a chugger like "Me, Myself, & I", which also happens to exemplify Laihiala's deeply personal, yet raw and poignant, lyrical content. In the latter case, the SENTENCED-esque line "somebody please give me a gun" is one of many attention-grabbers.

The mellower material works just as well and reveals the gothic layers that were more prevalent on previous releases. A power ballad called "The Days Between", the goth-plod of the title track, and the melancholic and downright bluesy "X" (with another classic line in "when you hear this song, everything's gone") all fit that bill.

"A Dead Heavy Day" was obviously crafted with care, as evidenced by the attention to compositional detail and the nuanced texturing that goes such a long way in a creating the album's somber moods. Thanks to exceptional placement in the arrangements, Sneck's otherwise subtle keyboards really make an impact when more pronounced on a handful of tracks (e.g. "Left Behind", the closing part of the title track, and the splendid organ solo on "X"). Laihiala's heartfelt guitar solos work wonders too, not to mention his distinct melodic patterning. I'll always miss SENTENCED, but POISONBLACK has done a great deal to fill the void.

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