Poisonblack - Of Rust and Bones (Century Media)

If Dead Heavy Day was a dead heavy bore, Of Bones and Rust sees Poisonblack stepping up their game. It will not disappoint.

Considered the spiritual successor to the "Northernmost Killers" Sentenced, Ville Laihala's new band emerged on the scene to rave reviews for Lust Stained Despair before disappointing with their followup, A Dead Heavy Day. While not forsaking the totality of his dearly departed Sentenced's gothic, bluesy metal sound, Laihala certainly gave it a shot in the arm, infusing a rush of up-tempo riffing and radio friendly moments into Poisonblack, all topped off with his middle finger raised at everyone and anyone.

Preaching pessimissm and gloom from the get-go, there's some great fat hard rock riffs and climactic choruswork to be heard akin to Finnish compatriots Tarot on tracks such as Leech, and the impressive groover Buried Alive - a throwback to the later period Sentenced singles. Intense acoustic-oriented ballads are even a welcome inclusion in the gloomy crooner Invisible, and searing chugger Alone, all sung in that inimitably morose rasp of Laihala's.

Casket Case is more like a guitar showcase, ripping forth with mighty chops, cleaving through your ears with thrashy monsters of riffs. Piano work can also be heard prominently, especially on the closer The Last Song which resembles an intense, southern blues jam, instead of a gothic metal track. It's rather epic, in its own way. And the solos? Blistering. Well, for Laihala at any rate.

A band going back to its blues roots can be fraught with danger, but Poisonblack pull off a modern record with a retro sound. There are shades of the blues, the gothic and, of course, metal, streaked throughout, lending to a cohesive, enjoyable whole.

Sentenced fans? Write this release down on your shopping list.

Poisonblack's Of Rust and Bones is out now on Nuclear Blast/Riot.