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Don't blame yourself for wanting more and more - 90%

KatatonicMoon, September 13th, 2006

Some people say a band or an artist is only really built when their second album is released, because it's easier for people to know what their intention is. In Poisonblack's case, it's very hard to analyze from that perspective. That is due mainly to the brutal difference from their debut album, "Escapexstacy", to their 2006's so-awaited release. Whereas the first one is very gothic (no surprises here) and maybe even "HIM-ish" (consider that a compliment or not), the second mixes gothic music, heavy metal, hard rock. The result is, why not say, originality. Also, the band's leading role - the vocals - has been changed from Charon's J.P. Leppäluoto to Ville Laihiala, who also happens to be the Poisonblack's main guitarist and songwriter. This release is angrier, more solid, more serious and...surprising. It really surprises the listener who's expecting for a gothic-metal oriented album (which was the case of "Escapexstacy"). It looks like this band has truly found their identity. "Lust Stained Despair" is the Poisonblack's soul, while "Escapexstacy" was solely some beautiful clothes the band was wearing.

With the opening track, "Nothing Else Remains", Laihiala and co. begin showing their evolution. First of all, the vocals. They're just incomparably diferent. Laihiala's hoarse voice is much more metal oriented than Leppäluoto's. Also, there seems to be more exploration of vocal melodies, since the band often makes use of backing vocals, ranging from really low pitches to quite high lines. Accurate technique can also be seen on the guitar and keyboard solos, which do not show a lot of virtuose but which makes the listener certain that it's creativity and feeling that counts here. Some examples of that can be heard on "Nail", the fifth song, and "Soul in Flames", number 7. There are also some good artificial harmonics a la Zakk Wylde, one of Laihiala's declared main influences.

Talking about artificial harmonics, another highlight from this album is the song "Rush", which was also turned into a single and a videoclip, not just by chance. Besides the aforementioned harmonics, the chorus is very catchy and you'll be singing it before you can even notice. By the way, Laihiala seems to have learned the recipe for "catchiness", because most of the songs off "Lust Stained Despair" will stick to your head. "The Darkest Lie", which is a like a mixture of nu-gothic-metal (forgive me for saying this - but it sounds just like the new Lacuna Coil with male vocals), will make you think of some bands from the USA. "Hollow be my Name" could also be under the wing of the North-American influence, whereas "Soul in Flames" and "Never Enough" are examples of the European music Laihiala has been listening to. Both of these two songs have a touch of In Flames, especially the latter.

If you're wondering if Laihiala has left the Sentenced ghost rest in peace, the answer would be no. He's undeniably influenced by his ex-band, especially by the guitarist Miika Tenkula. Fans of the late band will enjoy "Pain Becomes Me", a song with vocals and acoustic guitar only, which is like a moment of calmness. They'd also like "The Living Dead", the closing track, which brings a "closure" atmosphere.

"Lust Stained Despair" is, overall, a great album. If you like Sentenced, go ahead and buy it. If you like Lacuna Coil, do the same thing! This album will please people from very different musical backgrounds, ranging from traditional heavy metal metal.