08 Apr 2023 - Martin
Dungeon Punk | Relapse Records | Release date: 14 Apr 2023 | Favorite song: Härvest
Confronting reality through fantasy escapism. You say what? I say Poison Ruïn!
What sounds like a dichotomy first, is in fact a quite common way of coping with the harshness and inherent chaos of the reality surrounding us, by transferring the factors that affect you negatively into a fictional world. There you are able to confront these adversaries in a more secure environment. Being in control, stress turns to fun, relieve, creativity. Obviously just to a certain degree and in connection with trauma, it can also be a dead end. But in an ideal situation, you find new ways to tackle the challenges you are confronted with while being in this safe space. Music provides you with a lot of expressions of escapism and approaches to tackle emotionally heavy subjects. In form of Härvest it is a gripping revolt against the current times of plague, war and distress. Call it the New Wave of Dark Age Punk or just Dungeon Punk. Hah! Count me in!
With their first proper full-length and also Relapse-debut, Philadelphia based Poison Ruïn (founded in 2020, first as a solo recording project by singer/multi-instrumentalist Mac Kennedy and then developing to a full band by the end of the same year) are here to bring you ”swords and sorcery in a lawless age”. It is escapism in form of gothic lo-fi punk n´ roll, while dungeon synth provides the sonical framework. Rough-around-the-edges and with a background hiss, resembling the sound of an old recording, guiding you through the 11 tracks and 34 minutes of symbolic commentary on humanity´s current distress. If you need furthermore references: think about a combination of desolate Misfits, lo-fi Hellacopters and medieval Black Metal synth soundscapes.
Sounds strange, not fun? You know what, it nevertheless is! Pogo and boogie to the apocalypse! In a way not unlike Beastmilk, just a bit dirtier and gloomier. And maybe you´ll dance to their sound with a imaginary medieval weapon in your hand, slashing the pent-up negative energy in your mind into pieces. I am quite sure, you will see something like that happen, when Poison Ruïn enters the Next Stage in the 013 venue to kick-off the upcoming edition of the beloved Roadburn Festival in Tilburg. Fittingly for a festival that provides so many music loving nerds from all over the world a safe space, a place for escapism.
Even though every facet of sound on this record is in itself somehow retrospective, partly even medieval-ish, the composition of all these different elements to a cohesive whole couldn´t have happened in the past. As such it is very much so a product of our times.
First track ”Pinnacle of Ecstasy” directly sets the mood with atmospheric synths, flute organ and the wing beats of ravens. But this solitude doesn´t last long, because the modern times take over in form of battle, fire, a squeeling guitar and an effective ”Ugh!”. And off we are with foot-tapping, simple but infectious punk’n´roll and the aforementiond lo-fi and medieval inflected aesthetics. During Härvest we experience also dark alley-Hellacopters on dirty drugs (”Torture Chamber”), The Clash-like strolling rythms (”Frozen Blood”) and an Eastern-tinged melody asking us to come to the dancefloor and to show how fucked-up punks dance (”Bastard´s Dance”), before ”Slowly Through the Dark” releases us with dreamy keys full of longing and a soft fade-out.
Poison Ruïn is peace disguised as a morning star. In their escapist musical form, even “violence” achieves freedom. For the listener at least through emotional relieve and maybe even through renewed activism against the things that bring you down. And in times like these, this is worth a great deal. We´ll see us on the dancefloor! At Roadburn, of course!