To the uneducated pallet, Florida's Poison The Well might sound like "just another metalcore band." But before you go off believing such a ridiculous notion, realize that this quintet has been around for quite a long time. In fact, by dating all the way back to 1997, PTW actually predated most of the bands that are apart of this whole metallic hardcore craze of the new millennium, and even are the source of inspiration for many of the groups that really are apart of it. And plus, Poison The Well have some experimental-leaning releases to their name. On 2007's "Versions," for example, the band even went so far as to explore some country music tendencies. As such, 2009's "Tropic Rot" is not so much a rehash of the now very popular metalcore wave as it is a very confident and fairly triumphant (and indisputably successful) return to studded form.
The pummeling aggression of the set-opening "Exist Underground" does eventually relent by segueing through a tuneful part complete with bright and subtle melodies and emotive clean crooning, but is mostly centered around furious hardcore bellowing and heavy, churning guitars. And "Cinema" works in very similar fashion, as does "Sparks It Will Rain," which features similar-sounding elements while at the same time working in reverse order as "Exist Underground" and "Cinema." See, it boasts a melodic guitar intro that soon gives way to up-tempo aggression with heavy guitar and chugging bass riffs and visceral vocals.
After that, though, things take a turn for the more melodic side, starting with "Pamplemousse," which is a warm and inviting soundscape that finds supple melodic singing being laid over a flowing bass groove, and dexterous, marching drum fills. The tune is also highlighted by an excellent bass intro. And the succeeding "Who Doesn't Love A Good Dismemberment" might feature a grindcore-esque title, but is actually a song that explores more of the band's melodic and experimental side.
But back on their patented metallic hardcore sound, album centerpiece "Antarctica Inside Me" boasts an excellent energy crescendo, as the whole number builds to an amazing climax laden with big, doom-tinged riffs and throat-tearing screams. But said track then concludes with the sound of a mournful violin -- or at least something close to it -- playing in the background. As such, Poison The Well might come under some intense scrutiny for including this part, but they at least deserve props for keeping the arrangements unpredictable. "When You Lose I Lose As Well" also furthers this increasingly experimental, melodic, and subdued side of PTW, as it is almost completely acoustic and cleanly sung, although it does conclude with a couple of Slipknot-worthy screams.
Moving along, both "Are You Anywhere?" and the album-closer, "Without You And One Other I Am Nothing," offset lightly-plucked guitar melodies with explosive blasts of abrasive metalcore/metallic hardcore. But before you get your panties in too much of a twist, realize that there are a couple of songs (near the end of the record) that are almost completely brutal, and rip pretty much from start to finish. "Celebrate The Pyre," for example, is one blistering song that, with its buzzsaw riff and commanding bellows, offsets PTW's more experimental ventures by putting melody on the far back burner. And so does "Makeshift Clay You," which is a much more traditional and straightforward jaunt of classic American hardcore that lays forcefully pounding drums, Jamey Jasta-stylized vocals, and blustery guitars over a solid, grumbling bass bottom.
"The Tropic Rot" might not feature any real, genuine classics, but it does have a number of different standouts that are well worth your time, attention, support, and hard-earned money if you are into hardcore, raw metalcore, and/or crossover. These are all songs that prove that proves Poison The Well still have plenty of game left in them, no matter how old they might be.