While high fantasy has often vaunted the valour of the knight in shining armour, the heroes on Poison Ruïn’s new, medievally-minded Härvest album are compellingly more ground-level.
On its impressively bruising title track, vocalist-guitarist Mac Kennedy gruffly contemplates the relationship of the peasantry working the fields, and the ruling class exploiting their labour (“a tax on the yield, and a hand in your pocket”). All told, it’s a masterclass in punk-driven storytelling. Early on, the tune explores a distortion-fractured, minor chord melancholy to underscore their hardship, but as the song becomes a call to action (“Isn’t this our harvest? Isn’t this our feast to share?”) the band power through a feel-good resolve full of pugnaciously bluesy leads. Prime stuff.
This kind of underdog scenario manifests on Härvest in other ways, too, like on “Resurrection II,” where a gang of ghouls “rise from beneath the sanctimonious” to exert a “grim revenge.” That ghastly imagery falls in line with Poison Ruïn’s broader fantasy-based approach: as with their early pair of demos, a chainmail-wearing figure stands imposingly on the cover of Härvest, though this time swinging a scythe rather than a flail; the synth-based interludes coursing throughout the collection sound as if they were lifted from an ‘80s era swords-and-sandals epic. Despite some of the record’s mystical inclinations, Kennedy still bakes in some scepticism towards the supernatural. Take the walloping “Tome of Illusion,” where he presents magicians as duplicitous tricksters selling “fireworks…as sacred rite”, his voice raging with contempt over “whispered secret words” he hints at being no more than “babbled incoherence”.
Sonically, Poison Ruïn often tell their tale with lo-fi grit and sweat-soaked fury. Generally, the production recalls early black metal: overblown vocals that sound as if they were shouted into a garbage can a couple alleys away; RAT-infested guitar brutalism. The blistering “Torture Chamber” plows through dunderheaded d-beat heaviness and gain-surged rock ‘n’ roll soloing. The aforementioned title track throbs with the dark, melodic energy of Greg Sage’s Wipers. Outside of some sword-sharpening sound effects, “Bastard’s Dance” is a spin-dizzy circle pit starter. The biggest surprise is comedown piece “Slowly Through the Dark,” a leisurely, distortion-heavy instrumental that plays closer to a Cure-style epic than some of Poison Ruïn’s more hardcore influences.
Whether by flipping the conventions of fantasy, or through a handful of pleasurably raging tunes, it’s fair to say Poison Ruïn produced a pretty impressive yield this Härvest.
Pre-order Härvest by Poison Ruïn HERE
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