PoisonedHailing from Gdansk, Polish old school thrash-death metal three piece Poisoned are every bit your throwback to the late 80’s and early 90’s. With a demo and split under their belt, the three piece are all set to unleash their full length debut offering, “Beyond The Gates Of Fire”. With little other information available about this act, let’s just cut to the chase and see what lies beyond the gates.

“Reign Of Cruelty” opens up with some real evil feedback and drum blasts, setting the tone for a real aggressive, rapid thrash riff with thundering bass to come in. Hitting hard and leaving no room for recovery, the riffs smash away. Harsh and raw vocals, reminiscent of early 90’s death metal add to the intensity and the groove underneath demands movement. A real slice of old school thrash with death metal edges to it, this opening track is a storming effort.

“The Despot” continues this nod to the old school with its harsh and raw sound. Hard, loose and piercing, it keeps that stabbing feel and keeps it going with an intense battery of riffs. Sometimes it is hard to catch the vocals due to the guitar tone which many would turn their noses up at, but the raw, stripped back and semi-primal feel just makes it click. “Extermination Command” slows it down a little initially but the galloping riffs bring the urgent feel right back. Raw and chaotic, the best way to describe this track is furious. Rapid fire guitar riffs, harshly growled vocals and relentless work from the drummer, it shifts pace a few times, slowing to a sinister melodic break section but then builds the speed up once more, really adding to the tension before a frantic Slayer-esque solo full of nonsensical guitar wankery and whammy bar theatrics which would make Kerry King smile if he heard it.

“Czarny Anoie” is a cover of a Thrash Death 1986 track, and much like the band’s name of which Poisoned are covering, it sounds exactly like it was ripped from 1986. Bearing all the hallmarks of a mid-80’s thrash number, it charges on with ferocity and nostalgia fuelling it. “Legacy Of the Lie” invokes a slight NWOBHM styled riff but delivered with the spewed and intensity of thrash and death. With a windmill headbang tempo and plenty of pounding drums, the track surges on with the classic metal styled riffs really hammering away. Despite the harsh and loose feel of the sound working earlier, on this track it really comes off as flawed and hinders it despite the aggression and intensity put into this recording.

“Beyond The Gates Of Fire” is the title track and its big building intro slips right back into the raw thrash-death hybrid approach. Sounding like a low-fi Vader playing some D-List thrash riffs, it really hits hard but lacks that hook to get you gripped. The brutal edge works, but that’s about it really. There are some interesting progressions and it could sound a lot better live, but it just feels sloppy compared to the beginning of the recording and perhaps this is a trend forming? “Rebirth Through Suffering” could have the answer to the earlier question as both literal and metaphorical. Tighter with the sound, more controlled and darker, its murky low end chugging riffs and thundering bassline seem to have more clarity to them but the vocals are still lost in the mix in places, still it is a start and perhaps this signals a second wind for the final stretch of the album. The heavy and dark sounding thrash comes off well, especially after the previous tracks and the blistering pace of the riffs really drives the track on.

“Violent Termination” retains this clarity to some extent. Its intro is a malevolent force of riffs and pounding drums and the rapid pace at which it is delivered certainly does bring promise. Shifting into a thrashy groove, it charges on with some real thunder in its delivery. The heavy low end really rings out and the drum patterns are fantastic, simple but highly effective and the way they link with the guitar riffs just makes it all worth the suffering of the poor middle section. The classic thrash delivered with intensity is bound to whip up a maelstrom in a live setting, igniting the volatile crowd which demands pitting and this track would be the perfect thing to do such a thing.

“Reaper’s Wrath” draws the album to a close and much like the previous two tracks, it has the clarity and the mix seems right. Slow initially, it builds up in the intro with a series of drum fills before exploding into the rapid fire thrash riffs and a wild thrash metal. It does draw the album to a strong finish, but it still lacks that thing which grips you.

Overall, Poisoned have a double-edged sword on their hands in the form of this release. Whilst it evokes a feel of nostalgia with its sound, production, delivery and musical approach, it lacks that killer hook needed to really pull you in and keep you invested. Starting off strong, it goes rather limp quickly before a barely effective recovery near the end. Not special by any means.

(5/10 Fraggle)