Mon. Jun 5th, 2023

We’ve (re)rebranded our Artist of the Month series to CoSign, but we’re still dishing the accolade out to an up-and-coming artist or group who is poised for the big time. For April 2023, we’re shining the spotlight on Philadelphia punks Poison Ruin and their latest record, Härvest.

Political sentiments, fast riffs, and angry performances are as much a part of punk as power chords. Angsty sloganeering has defined the genre since its earliest days. And yet, half a century after the rise of the style, hardcore acts are still finding ways to reinvent its raw aggression. Poison Ruin prove as much on their latest LP, Harvestwhich innovates on the classic formula by fusing high-concept abstraction with furious, blistering performances.

From the first moments of Harvest, the Philly outfit introduce themselves as an act that cares little about the baggage packaged with the term “punk.” With “Pinnacle of Ecstasy” interrupting its ominous, mystical soundscape with a wailing, one-note guitar line, the band makes it clear they’re equally disinterested in either abiding by or breaking the established rules of heavy music. They’re both untethered from the past and undaunted by the expectations of the modern scene.

“I very much try to not think that way when writing things,” frontman Mac Kennedy says of Poison Ruïn’s tendency to isolate themselves from outside influences. “I don’t have any illusions; every idea comes from something else. But, I try not to think of those because I feel like then you just directly replicate something. At this point, I’m more wary than ever of [being] surrounded by that stuff.”

Such an attitude is evident throughout Harvest‘s ferocious 11 tracks. The band is perfectly willing to introduce new timbres into their sound, but they’re also prepared to put their heads down to trudge through an angry, 90-second punk song that sounds as if The Ramones were dragged through nihilism and mud.

But the homegrown originality of the band’s sonic palette only tells half of the story, as Harvest, which stands as the band’s first full-length project of entirely new music, doubles down on the mythology Poison Ruïn have been crafting since their earliest releases. The record frames itself as a journey through a hellish world of dark fantasy, complete with allusions to feudal systems, medieval torture, and, in the case of “Bastards Dance,” samples that sound like a blacksmith forging a blade specifically designed for mass slaughter .

By cb2gp