While San Diego might not be regarded as a hotbed for innovative metal bands, America's Finest City is gradually growing into its own. From Cattle Decapitation to Author & Punisher and beyond, San Diego's burgeoning scene is creating a new caliber of aggressive music. The momentum continues with recently formed modern crossover fiends Poison Headache.
Although Poison Headache officially formed following the demise of hardcore act Internal Affairs, the trio - comprised of Andy Kukta, Phil Sgrosso, and Kyle Rosa - had been playing shows together since high school. At the time, each musician was heavily involved with their own projects, but the three started working on what would eventually become their debut album.
"We began writing on and off for several years," Sgrosso reveals. "It was mainly just for fun in the beginning. Once we realized we had a good amount of material, the thought of making a full-length album came into the picture."
The aforementioned full-length is Poison Headache's positively crushing self-titled debut. Due in June 2016 on Metal Blade Records - a label Sgrosso's called home with Wovenwar and As I Lay Dying - the trio's first outing is a 10-song monster, a heaving, teeth-bared mass of anger, violent intent, aggression, and terrible certainty. That is to say, Poison Headache's eponymous debut is one part Entombed Wolverine Blues, one part Motörhead Ace of Spades, and one part Converge Jane Doe. Whereas The Accüsed, Agnostic Front, and D.R.I. defined crossover in the '80s, Poison Headache is taking the concept and the term into the modern era. Poison Headache is crossover for the new age.
"Those forms of music are what we all grew up on and represent the attitude of this band," says Sgrosso. "Our main goal is to combine the speed and simplicity of punk with the abrasive side of metal."
Written and refined in the members' spare time over several years, songs like "Sin Eater", "Conspirator", "Death's Design", and "Discloser" evolved to raw perfection. Largely simple by design - hardcore with HM2 heaviness; speed metal with streetwise attitude - the songs jump out, their purpose understood and their power unchallenged. Clearly, Poison Headache weren't averse to trimming the proverbial fat, while also paying very close attention to ensuring assembly wasn't piecemeal and that transitions, in particular, weren't haphazard.
"We try to make the most out of what we're capable of," says Sgrosso. "Andy and I split the vocals, both switching the lead role from song to song. Being a three-piece takes a lot more work, but we're also able to finish things a lot quicker."
If it's not the songs that stick out and stab in, then it's the dense yet clear production. Split between Taylor Young's (Nails, Twitching Tongues) The Pit and Sgrosso's home studio, Poison Headache was recorded, mixed, and mastered over a seven-week span. The drums were recorded at The Pit, while everything else was personally helmed by Sgrosso, as both engineer and producer. Young also handled mixing duties, with mastering completed by Brad Boatright (Black Breath, Inverloch, Sleep) of Audiosiege Mastering. The results, naturally, speak vehemently for themselves.
Poison Headache track-listing:
- Sin Eater
- Pity the Backseat
- Rot with Me
- Gray Skies
- Death's Design
- Hail, Colossus
- Never. Again.
Album Artwork by: Adrian Baxter
Poison Headache line-up:
Andy Kukta - vocals/guitar
Phil Sgrosso - vocals/guitar/bass
Kyle Rosa - drums
Poison Headache online:
Bio by: Chris Dick