Review: Poison Wind ‘Virus!’

Poison Wind is an eight piece ‘supergroup’ formed during the early stages of the COVID -19 lockdown and features Brian Magar (Cultic, The Owls ANWTS), Joe Coats (Gryla), Steve Dietz (Melancholic), Chad Hammitt (Altar & The Bull, Pagan Youth, Black Yoga Meditation Ensemble), Reese Harlacker (Cultic), Ben Price (Foehammer, Immiseration, At the Graves, Myopic), Jason Schlossman (Vormund) and Bobby Yagodich (Baneful Altar, Worm March, The Owls ANWTS).

Poison Wind 'Virus!'

The project was brought together by Brian, whose drum tracks were passed around to all the other members of the group to provide their contributions, whether that be vocals, guitar, bass or other instrumentation. An interesting twist was that each member had no idea who they were working with at any point, as well as being written, and recorded, in eight different home studios.

Music, by and large, tends to offer an escape from world events, Poison Wind‘s Virus! however is fixedly focused on the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The cover is stark with the image of a grim reaper styled figure exhaling one presumes to be the ‘Virus’, while the subtitle under Poison Wind reads ‘Quarantine Band’. Simply put, if you wanted a respite or distraction from COVID-19, this album may not be your best option.

Opener Branch CoVidians is a humourous take on Branch Davidians, a religious sect most associated with the Waco, Texas siege of 1993. The track reminds me of the intensity of Burn My Eyes era Machine Head and the intensity that that album conjured up, where it alternated between mid tempo groove metal and full-on thrash. Having not taken any notice of that band for two decades makes this number something of a fond and nostalgic listen. Broken World has a grinding industrial flavour that tips its hat to the likes of Godflesh, in fact it wouldn’t have sounded totally out of place on Streetcleaner. Even the name of the track is the sort of thing messers Broadrick and Green would have come up with, and I feel the band brilliantly manages to convey a sense of total hopelessness here.

Weight is an uncompromising and brutal slab of noise-rock/metal that evokes the spirit of the underrated Harvey Milk, never a bad way to conclude an album…

Listening to third track, Poison Wind, makes you think you’re in the wintery climes of Norway, the shrieked vocal style and folk touches reminding me of atmospheric black metal bands such as And Now The Owls Are Smiling. Viral Tales takes its cues from the ultra depressive nihilistic sludge metal of Grief, while Get Me Out takes more of an experimental/post-metal approach than what I’ve heard so far on the album. It is a strangely disjointed track that is difficult to get a handle on, but its credit to the band for stretching outside their comfort zone.

Final Zone has us back in familiar territory with a short burst of black metal, which while hardly on a par with the likes of Darkthrone, nonetheless offers us a nice change of pace. Wear A Fucking Mask! is seventeen seconds of grindcore mayhem that will satisfy fans of vintage Napalm Death and Brutal Truth, no prizes for guessing what the track is referring to. Weight is an uncompromising and brutal slab of noise-rock/metal that evokes the spirit of the underrated Harvey Milk, never a bad way to conclude an album.

Despite its potential novelty value (the entire motif being based around coronavirus), this is a well performed piece of work that took me by surprise. One needs to point out that this isn’t an album that will be held up in the annals of greatness, but its lo-fi recording quality, musical diversity and thematic quirkiness exudes a charm that ultimately provides a satisfying listening experience.

Label: Eleventh Key
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp

Scribed by: Reza Mills