Poison Ruïn are a Philadelphia quartet comprised of Mac Kennedy – vocals/guitar, Nao Demand – guitar, Allen Chapman – drums and Will McAndrew on bass who formed around 2020. In their short existence they have put out quite a few releases including 2020’s Self-Titled EP, 2021’s II EP and both last years’ Not Today, Not Tomorrow EP and the Live/Tour Tape ’22 set. Härvest is the band’s full-length debut and their first for Relapse Records.
The band are a fascinating prospect whereby the album covers may betray fantastical Dio/NWOBHM style concepts, yet to quote the promotional notes, ‘Kennedy reworks fantasy imagery as a series of totems for the downtrodden, stripping it of its escapist tendencies and retooling it as a rich metaphor for the collective struggle over our shared reality’.
Pinnacle Of Ecstasy starts with dungeon synth medieval sounds for approximately ninety seconds before launching into blackened mid-paced crust-punk that has a nod to Darkthrone when they were dabbling with that genre. A very cool opener. Tome Of Illusion reminds me of bands like Econochrist and Pain Of Mind era Neurosis and you could easily envisage these guys playing Gilman Street back in the day to a rapturous reception. Torture Chamber is reminiscent of early Metallica before erupting with some serious Corrosion of Conformity crossover vibes as well as a little Christ on Parade thrown in for good measure, awesome is the only word to describe it.
Listening to Härvest for the first time I was immediately transported to The Wipers Over The Edge album and classic tracks such as No Generation Gap but with an English element ala New Model Army, what with the Justin Sullivan fashioned vocals. Hands down my favourite track on the record. Frozen Blood is a little new-wave in places (do I detect the subtle use of keyboards?) before kicking you square in the face with some pretty awesome Motörhead-esque speed metal.
Härvest is an album that combines all the best attributes of post-punk, metal, death-rock and crust-punk effortlessly…
Resurrection I opens with divine atmospheric touches before excellent Killing Joke proto-industrial post-punk comes into play and Resurrection II continues in a similar vein but with Dave Vanian of The Damned’s unique croon rendering it a lot punkier than its predecessor. Augur Die is the shortest track on the album with a captivating Chicago punk spirit that recalls the catchiness of bands such as Naked Raygun and Pegboy, all that was missing were the woah’s.
Blighted Quarter captures the darkness of more modern outfits I’ve covered for The Shaman such as The Wraith and False Figure but with a crustier feel and Bastard’s Dance is more hardcore orientated than a lot of the album heard so far with harsher vocals resulting in a track that is nastier and gnarlier sounding overall. I can imagine the moshpit going ape to this one. Slowly Through The Dark is a beautiful and melancholy instrumental and I feel that the album might have been better served had it have started with this number, as a way of helping to set you up for the music to come. But I’m nit-picking, it’s still a quality tune that draws the album to a satisfying conclusion.
I don’t have enough good things to say about what Poison Ruïn have produced here. Härvest is an album that combines all the best attributes of post-punk, metal, death-rock and crust-punk effortlessly making it an absolute delight and a pleasure to listen to. It’s also incredibly infectious with hooks aplenty, demonstrating that having strong melodies doesn’t necessarily equate to your sound and message becoming diluted, if anything it only enhances them.
Scribed by: Reza Mills