Poisonblack - Escapexstacy
Century Media
Heavy Emotional Gothic Rock/Metal
10 songs (44'45")
Release year: 2003
Poisonblack, Century Media
Reviewed by Alex
Album of the month

Let me start by saying I am a MEGA-Sentenced fan. I own every piece of music that has ever been released by this Finnish outfit. Well, looks like there is not going to be a Sentenced album in 2003. The band is going to take a break after The Cold White Light. However, the faithful, like myself, should rejoice and pick up a copy of Poisonblack’s Escapexstacy, as Sentenced singer Ville Laihiala is a creative force behind Poisonblack. Unlike in Sentenced, Ville does not sing (except some of the backing vocals), but goes for rhythm and lead guitar plus songwriting instead.

Even though I started my review with the mentioning of Sentenced, let me be entirely clear. Poisonblack is NOT Sentenced Jr. One thing unites these two in my book though. Sentenced takes my soul and twists it into this emotional pretzel. Poisonblack does the same while serving as a podium for Ville to rip the cover off his darker inside. Half a year ago I witnessed a Sentenced show in Detroit and while on stage Ville exuded this unbelievable magnetism. This man is an enigma, somebody whose feelings I would like to understand.

As the promo material says, Poisonblack invokes “themes of lust & addiction for life, love, sex, and death”. Escapexstacy successfully achieves its goal by having an undeniable gothic edge to it, and this angle is probably its main difference from Sentenced. The album is gothic not in a sense that you have to shave your head and paint your fingernails and eyelids black, a very superficial image. Instead, the album digs much deeper. The music is very sorrowful, introspective and distressed.

Many other Finnish gothic rock acts, To/Die/For, Lullacry, Entwine, have just met a formidable challenger. A challenger who while maintaining all the emotion comes off as a much heavier listening experience. And the credit primarily goes to Ville’s guitar playing. It is the centerpiece around which Poisonblack’s universe revolves. His rhythm guitar may be overdubbed a little, but those riffs fall at a deliberate midpace like a hammer hitting a nail. There are no “fast” songs on the album, and there is definitely no shredding. At times chugging like a train full of steam (All Else is Hollow), at times much catchier like in The Exciter, for me the riffs remain one of the main attractions of the album. Along with the riffs melody is carried by extremely tasteful keyboards. Rarely they lead (The State, With Her I Die), but synthesizers often provide an openly cinematic and panoramic atmosphere. Guitars + synthesizers create an aura of utter sultriness. You can feel the lust just dripping buckets from this CD.

Escapexstacy solos are another excellent point. Low bass tone intro of Love Infernal reminds me of Savatage in Handful of Rain, middle solo of In Lust is downright bluesy (Mr. Gary Moore himself would be proud), and Ville is very noodly technical in Lay Your Heart to Rest. He knows how to restrain himself as his lead work is never distracting and is always well placed. It comes up just when you want it, and fades away just when you feel you want to hear another verse or chorus. The latter are as catchy as a fine-mesh net, Ville is a brilliant songwriter.

All of this would not work without the deep sorrowful baritone of J.P. Leppaluoto of Charon. A perfect vocalist choice for Poisonblack. Just check out the closer The Kiss of Death. His almost a capello singing at the beginning of the song and then vocalizing right along the piano lines provides this velvety glove feel, an exclamation mark. Production on the album is absolutely perfect, very clear, yet much heavier than for gothic bands I mentioned above.

I hope the band will stick together. After all Sentenced is huge, and Charon also must consume a lot of J.P’s time. Something as good as Escapexstacy deserves a full-length follow-up. This fan will be waiting.

Killing Songs :
All are gems
Alex quoted 96 / 100
Jay quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Poisonblack that we have reviewed:
Poisonblack - A Dead Heavy Day reviewed by Jerrol and quoted 72 / 100
Poisonblack - Lust Stained Despair reviewed by Joe and quoted 86 / 100
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