POISONBLACK, A Dead Heavy Day (2008, Century Media)

The skull:
Cool! A skull! Looks like it’s flying off a skycraper and streaming blood before it hits the ground. Rad! Best album cover ever!

The music:
Gothic metal! Neat! It’s even better than the final Sentenced album! This kicks! I downloaded it for free twice! I’m really into goth lately, I have these black beads and this really thick black eyeliner. Kids at school think I’m a freak, but I still play soccer and I’m running for student council this year. Can we go to Sonic for lunch? That place is total goth.

— Friar Wagner’s 13-year-old niece Matilda


DAMNED PLAN, Beyond Strength (2010, self released)

The skull:
“What have we got here, detective?” “Well, it would appear the victim, a renowned brain surgeon, was examining an x-ray and trying out his new fog machine when the assailant…” “Hold on, detective. Fog machine?” “Yes, sir. The doctor was evidently also a real Halloween enthusiast. Puts up a big display at his house every year. The kids loved it.” “Gotcha. So, he’s looking at the skull in the fog and then what? “Well, sir, we believe the killer was able to enter the room without the doctor noticing because of the fog. Ironic, really. Anyway, the assailant then hit the doctor in the head with a hammer, killing him instantly. The blood splatter on the x-ray supports this theory.” “Hmm. Good work, detective. Any suspects?” “Not yet, sir, but we’ve pulled some prints from the hammer, and we’ll run them through the system.” “Okay, keep me informed, and detective? Turn off the god damned fog machine.” “Yes, sir. Sorry about that, sir, but I have to admit it created a spooky vibe. The doctor knew what he was doing.”

The music:
You think these guys liked Dimebag Darrell? Jeez. Put some effort into your band name and album title, guys. They don’t sound any more like Pantera (or Damageplan, I guess) than any other groove metal band, but they’re close enough. It’s funny how some of these tribute genres work. You get 1000 bands that all kinda sorta sound like the inspiration, but all sound almost identical to one another. Every now and then with Damned Plan, you get a flash of some other influence, like maybe modern In Flames, and occasionally singer Doyo busts out a high scream that (unfortunately) reminds me of Ripper Owens more than anyone else, but these extra-Abbottian additions to the Damned Plan sound don’t do much to pull the album out of the muck. It’s just another boring aggro slugfest that tries to groove without soul.
— Friar Johnsen