Finnish upstart Snow White’s Poison Bite is being billed as in the same vein as Black Veil Brides, but there’s more going on than that. Where the later band presents themselves in shades of gray with little mirth, SWPB is inherently and undeniably tongue in cheek, cloaking their music in the veil of a horror show.
The album, entitled “Featuring: Dr. Gruesome And The Gruesome Gory Horror Show,” centers around theme not altogether different from the old “Tales From the Crypt,” with the titular Doctor Gruesome in the role of Crypt Keeper.
Both musically and thematically, “Dr Gruesome…” is like a junior high Misfits, telling stories about sneaking around a morgue after hours rather than something as ribald as aliens ransacking one. It’s a question of degrees really, but SWPB keeps live the spirit of ‘punk monster mash,’ even if it’s more pop punk or screamo than true punk. Where the music blends with metal is in the full-body, no filler bass hum, which can float entire selections like “The Gruesome Gory Horror Show.”
Unfortunately, the gimmick doesn’t hold up forever, and “Dr. Gruesome…” is a couple selections too long. As it is, songs in the middle like “Count Dracula Kid” and “Zombie Romance” (featuring former Misfits singer Michale Graves,) seem long than they actually are, which is rarely a good sign. While a band can getaway with one gimmick and idiom for a single record (particularly a debut,) SWPB will need to show more versatility if they hope to attain or maintain relevance. My concern is that if you strip away the horror face paint and spooky lyrics, the admittedly inventive mix of punk and surf and rock may not be bound together well enough to hold attention.
But before we get too far down the rabbit hole, there’s good news. Snow White’s Poison Bite has the musical talent to accomplish what they need to accomplish. “Dr Gruesome” shows enough mirth and promise to keep the spark of hope alive for this band’s future, make no doubt of that. That leaves the vocals…
The vocal performance of Jeremy Thirteenth is wildly unbalanced. His combination sneer/scream for “Will You Meet Me in the Graveyard?” twists what might otherwise be a sappy horror ballad into a twisted tale of forbidden love, without question the album’s best track. In other sections, the vocals are far too juvenile, tearing down and invalidating the potential of a song like “Halloween Means Death.” I can see the kind of affect that Thirteenth is going for, but it falls short of the goalpost. Moments like this make one question the moment-to-moment musical decision of sacrificing a sinister snarl for a nasally cry.
Okay, that’s a lot to swallow. Let’s sum up. On the balance sheet, “Featuring: Dr. Gruesome And The Gruesome Gory Horror Show” comes out as an average record. That said, Snow White’s Poison Bite utilizes a nice motif and some promising presentation, both in their lyrical bent and their choice of blended genres. This album disappoints only because it fails to realize all of its own potential. I’m not giving up; this band’s future could still be very bright.