Last summer gothic metal band Poisoned Hestia has returned with the sophomore full-length album All the Way Down, releasing it entirely independently. It’s not typical gothic metal with gloomy atmosphere, melancholic synths and depressive voice, but rather dark rock inclining towards classic/hard rock direction.
Poisoned Hestia is a young band if we consider only this incarnation, but in truth, they have existed from 1991 under a moniker 13th Floor. 13th Floor disbanded in 1995 and went on a long-termed hiatus. Despite the fact that they didn’t left any records, they were quite noticeable and had a respectable reputation in the underground cultural life. The trio resuscitated their musical brainchild only in 2019, finally presenting their songs in a long-awaited debut Subtle Seduction. Four years after, they are continuing their melodic traditions, peppering them with chilly darkness and dynamic friskiness. So, it doesn’t matter how old this band is – thirty two or just four, we can trust their experience and sincerity that are perfect ingredients for a fine and savory record.
Gothic metal had its peak of stardom in 1990s, when black color was trending and the pale girls and boys were immersed in poetical melancholy and funeral atmosphere. Despite this dark image, many goth bands have played quite a positive music, and Poisoned Hestia is one of those optimistic groups. But regardless of these ubiquitous positive vibes, the petite tinge of murkiness never really fades. Formally traditional, atmospherically glum and rhythmically dynamic, this album bursts with wicked energy and relaxes you at the same time. 40+ minutes of minimalistic obscurity and playful melodies, this is all about All the Way Down.
The album starts with a bangy and spicy southern rock track with a pretentious name “All is dead”, when all the laurels of superiority belong to a solid and painfully melodic chorus. That’s the thing with gothic rock – the most delicious moments are always left for choruses. The blues/country influence sometimes returns, cheering up the gloomy background and coloring it with sandy patterns (“Say My Name”). Rock ‘n’ roll vibes are also pushing back the black and white melancholy, focusing on good old days, when even the most tragic events seemed so easy to deal with. This is really audible during the songs like “Stitches” or “In Your Head”. “In Your Head” is also closer to alternative rock, and only flexibly melodic guitar patterns get us back to gothic realm.
The high-spirited mischievousness passes through the most of the songs, once again highlighting the importance of catchy choruses. The pace also jumps up and down; sometimes offering medium-tempo classic rock tracks and sometimes speeding up to almost danceable level (“Radiation Trip” or “Necessary Evil”). All the Way Down doesn’t overspill emotions, preferring smooth transitions and level mood without surprises or experimental moves. The rhythm section is nice during this album (and by the way, they don’t have a permanent drummer), but this is gothic rock, so we are here for the melodious and captivating guitar riffs. And not the last role in this is played by their singer Oliver, who prefers a common practice in gothic rock – rather chanting than singing. This is certainly intentional, a little dissonant detail to oppose the sickly sweet melodiousness.
Poisoned Hestia plays straightforward music, focusing more on atmosphere than technicality, so everything here is simple and pertinent, like raw and relevant primitiveness on the canvas of minimalistic art object. The artwork emanates some engineering and industrial vibes at the same time, reminding us of their affection for structural order. And the music flows carelessly on, soaked in a foggy darkness and purified by the rays of sunshine. Yeah, like a perfect soundtrack to a happy dying, and why not, after all, who can stop a gothic metal band from worshipping and mocking such a concept as Death?
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