"Poison In Black"

By Dr. Abner Mality

At the end of "Poison In Black", this Italian metal band does a cover of Black Sabbath's "Headless Cross" and absolutely nails it. Almost to the point of surpassing the original. A lot of that can be chalked up to the godly vocal performance of one Ramon Sonato, who channels the spirit of Tony Martin with amazing fidelity. This excellent cover caps off a surprising offering of melodic metal.

This is my first encounter with the band, but "Poison In Black" is already their fourth album and it's a confident and assured piece of work. Martin-era Sabbath is a good touchpoint for what they are trying to achieve here...the band plays mostly mid-tempo metal with a lot of crunch, flashy solos, some symphonic touches, and above all, Sonato's stunning vocals. This guy impresses from first track proper "Tears of Pain" right up until the "Headless Cross" redux. It's not much of a stretch to say he's a cross between the aforementioned Mr. Martin and a certain Tim Owens. If you like the work of those gentlemen, then you should check out Hollow Haze.

Sonato makes the biggest impression but the rest of the band are not slouches. There's some great soloing throughout and even the slower songs have powerful arrangements and emotion. "Chained" and "Remorse" are not quite ballads but drip with a lot of melody. I like the fast cuts like "Haunting the Sinner" and "Voodoo Rites" as well, with a strong drumming performance. At some points, I wish the band would dial back some of the overblown symphonic elements...I think they would be better stripped down. And a couple of faster tunes wouldn't have hurt, either.

Quite a find for melodic metal fans!