By Poison the Well
Poison The Well's progression into more of an experimental-sounding band was the best possible thing the band could have done. Although their earlier albums 'The Opposite of December' and 'Tear From the Red' were respected albums in their genre, there was always the lingering feeling that the band were capable of much more. With frequent member changes (a look at their previous members list shows over twenty previous members at different stages of the band) and a major label signing along the way (for one album) it seems that Poison The Well are all in favour of the current direction of the band.
It is definitely the right decision, as 'The Tropic Rot' is a consistently brilliant album. Reviewing an album such as this, it is difficult to pick out any weaknesses within it, because it really is that good. From opening track 'Exist Underground' the album as a whole has a massive sound; vocals, guitars and drums are all pushed up as loud as is acceptable and it immediately imposes itself on the listener. Particularly listening through headphones, you get a feel for the work that has been put in to develop such a multi-layered sound, with careful attention to detail given to each component of each track.
Jeffrey Moreira's improved use of vocal patterns has been a vital improvement within the band, as it has allowed them to progress with their more experimental sound. Tracks such as 'Sparks it Will Rain' and the superbly haunting 'Antarctica Inside Me' demonstrate the differences between the 'harder' and 'softer' tones in the vocals. What is more impressive is that the movement between the two isn't forced, and Poison The Well's softer side still manages to project in a way that maintains the band's depth and sense of dark melody.
The musical gloom attached to the album, displayed in 'Pamplemousse,' is part of its appeal. It strangely gives the songs a sense of darkness, but also familiarity as quickly as the second and third listenings of the album. This track and many of the others have a sense of a start and a finish to the song, but with no obvious chorus in the middle or any sort of break. It is a refreshing difference and avoids any sort of predictability creeping in. When choruses are included, they are absorbed into the structure of the song, and it avoids the feeling of a typical chorus. In 'Who Doesn't Love a Good Dismemberment,' a chorus melody is present and gives the song a different sense of direction before approaching a destructive outro to ensure the PTW trademark is fully evident.
Another thing that Poison The Well have successfully managed to find on this album is their sense of tempo and rhythm. Songs towards the end of the album ('Celebrate the Pyre' and 'Makeshift Clay You') maintain the quicker drum patterns featured at the beginning of the album, ensuring the album remains strong throughout. It is always disappointing when an album has a decent half and a lacking half, but this album is genuinely strong throughout its eleven songs.
'Without You and One Other I Am Nothing' opens with a short introduction on keys giving the impression of a calm exit to the album, only to give way to raw power from all angles. Weighing in at over five minutes, as several of the songs on the album do, it allows a full expression of sound, with the power balanced out by periods of melody giving way to a journey through the minds of the band and their respective instruments to conclude 'The Tropic Rot.'
It is safe to say that this is one of the most impressive albums that I have heard this year. Following the impressive release of their EP series this year, it raised the anticipation and expectation of this album, and Poison The Well have stood up and delivered.