POLST "s/t"

POLST is a 4-piece metal/punk band from Portland, OR. This cassette marks their debut release.

Having lived in Portland, I can safely say that is particular mixed-genre is pretty common for the geography. Music fans in the rest of the country are somewhat misled by the commercial success of bands such as The Decemberists, Sleater-Kinney, The Blow, Sallie Ford and so forth, and whom collectively suck 60/70 %. The reality of the music scene in PDX is that it is a meth-paved playground where metal bands run wild and are free to cross-pollenate with other fringy genres of a similar ilk. While living there, I found this to be notably boring.

That being said, I always appreciate ‘standouts’ no matter how dismissive I am of the genre as a whole. POLST is certainly a great example of a ‘standout’ among bands that I can barely sit-thru. Possibly my paramount complaint about the genre/subgenre is that there rarely seems to be much of a difference between songs; you can’t understand the lyrics, there is almost never anything that vaguely resembles a melody, and while the musicianship is usually very impressive it is rarely purposeful, putting it in the company of the most useless genre of all…jam bands. (something to think about: have you ever seen jam bands and metal bands in the same place at the same time?)

But as I said before, POLST is a ‘standout’. Most of the songs are what you would expect from band describing themselves as “The metal-side of punk”. However, there is a certainly a difference song-to-song, primarily noticeable in the way and proportions that the genre-elements are mixed. While most metal/punk bands are either punk bands with a metal edge or metal bands with punk influences, POLST truly (and seamlessly) cross genres within the same song, best exemplified by the fourth and last tracks (“This Stone” and “Under a Puppet” respectively) which even include elements of psychedelia. Better yet, there is plenty that “vaguely resembles a melody”. In fact the second song “Pretty Water” I might even describe as catchy. They take the best elements from each genre tread including the youthful sensibilities of Cro Mags, DOA or Negative Approach, the desperately aggressive power of heavyweights Dillinger Escape Plan, as well as elements I’m not qualified to describe from other bands I’m embarrassed to list. (note: keep in mind that the only Dillinger Escape Plan song that I definitively claim to have heard more than once is the cover of Aphex Twin’s “Come to Daddy” featuring Mike Patton).

“This Stone” begins with a sort of dramatic, cleanish, thinner-side-of-sludge guitar intro that could honestly be the beginning of a song from almost any genre under the Big Tent of Rock and Roll. After about a minute, the rest of the band comes in, transitioning into a stab-first-then-grind take on grindcore. From there it leads us a journey of mystic anger and adrenaline to a head bopping hardcore-styled chorus, to a bridge more reminiscent of punk. It then transitions abruptly but seamlessly (again) back into sludgyland where the backing vocalist takes the lead repeating the words “You already know” and the screaming lead vocalist joining him about a half-second behind which I suppose constitutes harmonizing in the metal world – considered by many to be the Everest of harmonizing – then eventually breaking down into something which might even be called ‘pretty’.

I can’t pretend to fully understand what metal fans look for in their music, and its possible that I might be fan of the genre if I did, but as a outsider I would say this works and by the Springsteen-principle (a theory dictating that EVERYONE likes at least one Bruce Springsteen song and if they don’t, are most likely philistines at best, domestic terrorists at worst), I would surmise that metal fans would like it even more. The screaming is nicely cut by flat and nearly amelodic backing vocals for extra-listenability, a sound filled by the impressively busy drumming of Tuviya Edelhart (see also: Valkyrie Rodeo), the slight juxtapositions in genre/influence within each song.

Any serious music appreciators would be remiss in passing up this cassette. You know how some people/you say things like “I hate all country except for Johnny Cash” or “I hate all rap except for 311”…this is your breath-of-fresh-mud exception. Metal, punk, and even hardcore fans should absolutely check this out, if you weren’t too offended to read this far into the review.

Listen to it and buy it here:


--Travis Long