Here it is kids: The best album of 2003. This shit is just plain brutal. I'm sure none of you out there will ever give this disc a chance because it's sort of a hardcore record and Thom Yorke doesn't sing on it, but goddamn you, it shreds. I haven't heard a record this intense since Vision of Disorder dropped Imprint in 1998. But the major difference between Vision of Disorder and Poison the Well is that Poison the Well signed to a major label and released their masterpiece while Vision of Disorder signed to a major label and turned into a grungy nü metal band so goofy that it would make Chris Cornell blush. Unlike Vision of Disorder, Poison the Well not only live up to their promise with You Come Before You, but also appear to have something to prove, which is rare when a band is on the receiving end of even the most modest amount of success.
Poison the Well make music that is melodic and catchy, but noisy and full o' rage at the very same time. The pain on display in these songs is so dense that one feels that he/she might be able to reach out and touch it with his/her bare hands. In other words, this band is emorific! The lyrics are a bit too pretentious for their own good, but the way the singer presents these trite musings is powerful enough to make it all work. The vocal melodies are simply off the charts, and the songwriting is pretty adventurous, especially for a hardcore record. Tell me the last time you heard a punk rock or metal record with a harmonica on it! I defy you to, bitch! You can't do it, can you?
The craziest part of all of this is the fact that Poison the Well released an excellent genre-bending album, Tear From the Red, just last year. This time out, though, the band doesn't merely bend genres, it tears them in half. And though Tear From the Red was a striking album, You Come Before You is eons beyond it... I've personally never heard a band make such progress in such a short period of time. In less than a year this band has not only reinvented itself but also turned hardcore on its ear. Not too shabby.
In a world where Metallica's sneers have been replaced by slick shit-eating grins, it's good to see that there's still hope for those of us who still foolishly cling to the misguided notion that there's power to be found in the metal heavy. Yeah, go buy yer copy of St. Anger, boy, and help Lars Ulrich make enough money to purchase yet another luxury boat. You can have yer Metallica, you fuckin' ghouls. This is the real rage against the machine, friends.