SONIC POISON – Eruption (2023)REVIEW

Scratching from beneath the floorboards, the fingers of blood splattered victims smear their drug-addled nightmares with nauseating, paranoid howling dread. Anticipating the knife-wielding sect of humanity’s brutal neanderthal devolution at their door any moment now… the zombified, culture-void masses are whipped into frenzy by the traumatic churn of everyday warfare as society becomes increasingly dispassionate towards the grinding maw of their inevitable nuclear death from above. Southern Finnish deathgrind trio Sonic Poison are the closed-circuit camera system documenting the screaming hordes of dementia-thrashed populace as they are cast into said maw of frenzied teeth and brimstone hail, a nuclear thrashing death metal kicked grindcore act in witness of our puppeteered population pulling their own trigger. By way of a gnarled, manic rush of frenzied deathpunk idyll their debut full-length album, ‘Eruption‘, feels like an exacting study of the primal values found in classic death metal adjacent grindcore, an experience packed with machine-gunned riff ideas which flow into an un-fucked with guitar driven grind-ride. It’ll be an entertaining extinction at the very least.

Sonic Poison was formed back in 2012 between current and former members of Scumripper, Faustian Pact and Ghastly. Their style has focused intently upon a classic underground style of late 80’s death/thrash metal influenced grindcore from the get-go. The face value read of their approach fits in with what I’d consider an ’87-’91 specific sound wherein the deathgrind tapes of the era still pulled heavily from mid-80’s thrash metal guitar work (see: Righteous Pigs) after being built upon crust/hardcore punk rhythms the same way the first records from Filthy Christians and Prophecy of Doom were, though in this case a point of mild precision suggests at least some admiration for the impact of Terrorizer by proxy. In terms of nowadays grind-scenery the closest approximation we might find to this style is maybe the second Noisem record or nearby, though anyone keen on the idea of late 80’s/early 90’s grindcore will be especially on board with the raw-razored whip of Sonic Poison‘s debut.

The key appeal of this particular niche (post-‘Scum‘ toxo-thrashing deathgrind) lies in its abrupt bursts of shockingly raw nuclear deathpunk attacks which’d been well communicated on their first demo (‘Harsh Demonstration…‘, 2016). The major outline of what would become ‘Eruption‘ is fully there and that’d been the band’s best stated self compared to the couple of official releases that’d come next. In fact you’ll find all but one or two of the tracks from that first demo made it onto the LP. So, if Sonic Poison‘d pretty much known where they were going with their gig six years ago you’ll have to decide if it makes sense to side-step their more crust punk/grindcore leaning debut mLP (‘Combat Grind‘, 2017), which I’d personally loved, since it seems to have been a defining release for the band in the sense that the “combat grind” label has stuck. This is where the pre-‘World Downfall‘ stuff and British grindcore influences are at their hottest per their discography thus far but we’ll find only two standout songs (“War on Drugs”, “Library Slasher”) featured on ‘Eruption‘ otherwise. None of the songs from their noisy, monstrous Split with Axeslaughter in 2020 would end up on the album, granted they’d sounded like rehearsal outtakes. Though these formative releases offer some additional context for the invested fan the only reasonable expectation heading into ‘Eruption‘ is that it delivers upon the initial promise of ‘Harsh Demonstration…‘, doubling down on its horrified, fiendish aggression.

Earache thrashcore, not Relapse grind. — From my point of view the best parts of ‘Eruption‘ naturally invoke some vested interest in classic hardcore punk stature in the early 80’s, the backbone of early extreme metal innovation in general. Communicating the difference between good hardcore punk influenced extreme metal and careless generica is tough to the untrained ear, I’d suggest that cleverness and creativity naturally bubbles up when the actions of a band amount to a bloody tornado and it is your job to catch up, to jump onto a moving train. ‘Eruption‘ comes from folks who have a grip on the right attack, the point blank directionality of grindcore’s original metalpunk maniac state which can be found in the main riffs of “Grinding Fear”, “Repulsive Reactions”, and “Radiate the Masses” among others. Trite as it might sound in practice, the major appeal of the full listen lies in what you’ll parse from successive listens the choice chunks which stick in mind despite it being a very dense and active grindcore record. Any great grind record plays like a great hardcore punk LP in that respect, whatever catches the ear gains some mental momentum ’til the head spins in response. I’d found the more thrashing two-headed grind machine of “Ouroboros” a strong highlight to start with its dual-vocal gas, but I’d likewise appreciated the steadier crossover militance of “Antithesis” nearby as personal highlights. You’d be hard-pressed to find any part of the full listen lacking, all of it void of filler or joking-ass shit though there isn’t much to say about fast bursts of 1-2 minute grind pieces.

Some riffs pull from the similar pools of inspiration but the overall roll-out of ‘Eruption‘ never feels overtly redundant or phoned-in, there are no samples or “noise” pieces nor do they waste a moment building tension toward a point. Sonic Poison kicks the cap off the valve, they get in there and cut shit up, leaving wild strokes of bloody splatter in mind as they go full press and whole hog through this relatively short hit of ‘old school’ grindcore. That more-or-less brings us to the conclusion that this stuff might not be anything “new” but it is yet an ideal example of where hardcore punk, grindcore, and death/thrash metal all meet in lineage and unified disorderly conduct. It is a thrilling blast of extremist energy as intended and a full listen which managed at least a few points of memorable interest that it’d been a pleasure to return to the havoc of it all many, many times. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (82/100)

Rating: 8 out of 10.
LABEL(S):Me Saco Un Ojo Records,
Pulverised Records,
Caligari Records
RELEASE DATE:January 27th, 2023

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