Much like albums from SENTENCD (R.I.P.), it is typical for releases by POISONBACK to require a few spins before the songs really sink their claws into the listener. That was the case with 2008's superb "A Dead Heavy Day", although that one had more immediacy to it, thanks to the fantastic tunefulness. I assumed that growth time would also be required for "Of Rust and Bones" since the first few spins weren't making much of an impression one way or other the other, save for a few well done songs of a more expansive variety; "Invisible", "Down the Drain", and "The Last Song". The difference this time is that "Of Rust and Bones" never ends up clicking in the same manner as previous releases, based on somewhat dull songwriting in a few places.
The holdover qualities continue to be Laihala's (ex-SENTENCED) identifiable vocals and cleverly forlorn lyrics, as well as his ever-improving guitar soloing, which on this album is as fiery as ever (e.g. "Leech"). The problem is the lack of hooks that were so conspicuous on "A Dead Heavy Day", which boasted standouts "Bear the Cross", "Diane", "Left Behind", "Human-Compost", and "Me, Myself, and I". It is not that there are any real throwaway cuts on the new one and a song like album-opener "My Sun Shines Black" almost gets there; it's that "almost" part that is the issue, as the hook just isn't big enough to reel in the listener and keep him there. But as far as POISONBLACK's unique rock 'n roll attributes are concerned, you need only visit "Casket Case" to get your ass thoroughly kicked by what turns out to be a quintessential melodic hard rocker.
One could argue that it is unfair to compare "Of Rust and Bones" to a "Dead Heavy Day", as the former is a different kind of album and certainly a far moodier one. The mellower material in particular, such as the eight-minute "Invisible", is well developed and emotionally charged to a very convincing extent. Fueled by the stellar Laihala soloing and sizzling keyboard work of Marco Sneck, "Casket Case" is another notable cut, this one a blues-based powerhouse. Though problems with drag plague the first section of "The Last Song", the second half is a righteous jam straight out of the '70s School of Hard Rock.
So there is no lack of at least minimally worthwhile moments on "Of Rust and Bones". It is just a tougher album to fully grasp and one that suffers from inconsistent songwriting and a few too many momentum swings. "Of Rust and Bones" still holds some appeal as an album in its own right and one that fans should still appreciate, even if it falls well short of its predecessor's achievements.