Remember when major labels actually signed post-hardcore and metalcore bands? Same. It happened in the grunge and nu-metal genres, so it’s only natural that it happened to bands like Thursday and Poison The Well. For all the lack of street cred these two (and countless others) received for signing to bigger labels, it’s interesting that albums like War All The Time and You Come Before You were such fantastic records as a whole.
You Come Before You is arguably Poison The Well’s finest overall body of work. Produced by the men behind two legendary Refused records (including The Shape Of Punk To Come), it contains many of the band’s best songs – yet it’s not a singles album by any means. This is the record where the entire band is in absolute sync here; from Chris Hornbrook’s calculated and identifiable drumming to Jeffrey Moreira’s best overall vocal performance on any record, he displays a more mature and diverse palate of vocals overall. Take one listen to the dissonant, yet melodic hardcore stomp of “Ghostchant” and “Crystal Lake”, the tracks that bookend the record, and you’ll see the improvement from, say, The Opposite Of December. Improving on an already iconic and influential metalcore record is difficult enough, to be certain.
Meanwhile, standout tracks do abound here. Specifically the Deftones-influenced “Meeting Again For The First Time” and “Apathy Is A Cold Body”, which have verses that explode into massive, emotive choruses that truly shake the soul. It was on these two tracks that proved, alongside other bands of the genre like Hopesfall, Beloved, and Thrice, that post-hardcore and metalcore could deliver genuine emotion, tension, and aggression in the same breath. Pretty much any metalcore band of today owes a massive debt to one of the aforementioned bands, and especially this record, for popularizing this of music.
I believe The Opposite Of December, Poison The Well’s 1999 debut full-length, to be one of the 10 most important metalcore records of all time. It was a record that was far ahead of its time and a record that bands like Underoath and August Burns Red likely were influenced by. Yet, You Come Before You is the band’s undisputed masterwork. Listen to the brilliant ensemble playing of Moreira, Miller, Primack, Bergman, and Hornbrook. You can practically hear every nuance of every instrument. In terms of lyrical craftsmanship, the sheer songwriting, this album hits a new peak of professionalism. Though all of their albums (especially the underrated The Tropic Rot) are important evolutionary steps in the PTW catalogue, 15 years after its initial release, Poison The Well’s You Come Before You remains one of the best records to ever come out of the metalcore scene.