The way you might look at religion might differ from some of us who live and breathe music. You might think that the “gospel” has to be fed to you by a man of religion, but sometimes the right kind of music can be just as effective as wine and wafers. Whatever Houston’s POIZON thinks of religion, their debut full length, Church Is Poizon, should become your new doctrine. Full of garage-fueled punk that’s close to Australia’s The Victims mixed with Zero Boys, the entire release is an in-your-face reminder that punk rock doesn’t have to fit the mold you’re used to. After first catching them over a year ago, they’ve easily become one of my favorite new Houston bands who could set the world on fire, one electrifying show at a time. With 10 songs that clock in a bit over the thirty minute mark, the album is certainly worth adding to your collection.
Opening things up with “Bayou Waterbed,” the snappy drums and wily guitar seem to meander about while the vocals from Shawn Adolph sound like that of a calm preacher enthusiastically leading a tent revival. While the song is essentially straight forward rock, the garage rock elements cannot go without notice, making their sound more diverse and attentive. The squealing guitar howls of “Dead Hand” kick off the second track with plenty of ferocity that keeps going throughout the track while the first standout of the album “What Do You Say To That?” kicks in afterwards. Complete with an old school punk pace, there’s something about how the guitar works in tandem with the drums and bass that offers up a stride you’re immediately hooked by. The song is so catchy — without coming off like modern pop — that it feels like it’s just shy of fists in the air while a crowd sings along.
Those guitars keep the hooks coming on the fourth song, “Turned-Off Man.” While the song is unmistakably in their style, it’s a bit of a different sound from the previous three, but the track still pays off. Swaying between the sounds of the rockier side of NoBunny and the more melodic elements of Mark Sultan, the song definitely lets you know that this four-piece stands out for a reason. The eighties LA punk influence is heavy on the murky opening of “Cool Mom,” the second stand-out of the album. There are elements of Link Wray and Dick Dale in the attitude of the guitar, while the vocals scream out at times while staying cool and collected when needed. The bassline alone is enough to draw you in and the drums that sound like they were recorded in a fallout shelter should keep you listening. The band keeps the intensity high on “I Love My Stuff,” where Kyle Gionis’ guitar offers up blazing moments of hooks and storytelling runs that remind you of the seventies punk scenes that made America interesting.
Three songs later, another track that sticks with you immediately, “Mouthy,” has such power and breakneck speed that you can’t forget it. One of the strengths of this band is their ability to add little guitar runs reminiscent of the ones Dead Kennedys employed while the vocals hop on and off like they have no reason to cloud the music with wordage. The band closes the album off with the harmonic and rhythmic sounds of “Doomland.” While the song reminds me of a mix of The Fall and T.S.O.L., that’s not to say that it’s a lift by any means. There’s a build here that mires in the slower side of garage punk while a synth dances underneath before the intensity of keeping things slower really explodes like an atom bomb in slow motion. The band truly keeps things their own while reminding you of so many other things that you can’t help but listen to the track two or three more times.
There’s definitely tons of influence in what POIZON is doing here, while none of it sounds like they’re copying anyone. In a time where everyone wants to argue what punk rock is, POIZON drops in, does their thing, and steers clear of any argument.
You can stream the album or purchase it from Austin’s Twistworthy Records. You can catch POIZON live and in person on Wednesday, July 26 at Walter’s Downtown. The all ages show with doors at 8 pm will have sets from Sweden’s Holograms alongside Xetas and Criminal Itch with a $10 cover.