After helping to kickstart the metalcore movement, for better or worse, You Come Before You is where Poison The Well transcended the genre through new songwriting choices and implementation of more eclectic instrumentation. Songs schizophrenically jump styles from indie rock, to punk, to hardcore; but without ever losing the metal edge that keeps me head-banging, mouthing the words, and pantomiming stereotypical frontman stances. The album is even produced by Pelle Henricsson and Eskil Lövström, who were instrumental in recording '90s hardcore acts like Refused.
I am constantly swept up in the alternation between the sorrow-tinged clean singing and contemptuous screams. Not only are both stellar in quality and production, the amount of growth since the now-typical shrieks of The Opposite Of December is phenomenal. Jeffery Moreira displays the same level of conviction, but with deeper, more consistent bursts of fury and lovely, crooning melodies. The approach is equal parts Quicksand, August Burns Red, and Letlive.
And that's just the vocals. The band has put out some video tutorials of the drumming and guitar parts on this album, and let me say that they are anything but basic. Chris Hornbrook is a monster. Never satisfied with a 4:4 snare-bass-snare-bass pattern, Chris would be slapping Terence Fletcher in the face if he starred in Whiplash. There is no "rushing or dragging" to these thrilling rhythms. Likewise, the guitar and bass work put forth a wealth of both style and musicianship. From the post-rock interlude, "The Opinionated...," to the epic "Apathy Is A Cold Body," You Come Before You is less Bleeding Through and perhaps more a post-hardcore Radiohead.
But there is still room for the occasional blast of metalcore, as with "Zombies Are Good For Your Health" or the crushing closer "Crystal Lake." The rapid guitar tapping, crunchy chords, and breakneck drumming are mosh-worthy in every sense of the term. Throughout the runtime, these elements are contrasted with the nontraditional ones (slide guitar, anyone?) in such a way as to create multi-movement compositions filled with variety and life.
So there it is: the soundtrack to the last two years of my high-school experience and one of the best so-called "metalcore" albums ever written. Every song flows to the next with perfect pacing; creating a greater whole, but allowing each song to stand on its own two feet. I have tried to keep all 12 of these tracks at my side in one way or another for the past 13 years. They've been carried via Discman, Atrac (remember that?), USB, iPod, and now iPhone. Do yourself a favor and give it a listen. I won't mock you for being a late adapter. Rather, much bro-grabs will be had.