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Despite having some of the worst album artwork in recent memory, VENOMOUS CONCEPT’s second album, Poisoned Apple, packs a considerable punch. But this should come as no surprise as the band features half of NAPALM DEATH and half of BRUTAL TRUTH as its members. “Drop Dead” starts things off with a bang as the band unleashes a catchy exercise in d-beat crust punk fury. “Toxic Kiss” and “Life” quickly follow keeping the energy level high. However, the band soon loses momentum with a series of somewhat bland, uninspired tracks that aren’t necessarily terrible, but are a bit of a disappointment when you consider the talent involved. Things get back on track with the blasting “Every Mother’s Son”, the driving blue collar punk of “Workers Unite” and the harsh, throat-scraping highlight, “Hero.” Overall, the band’s performances are beyond solid, with Kevin Sharp leading the charge, giving his vocal chords an intense workout, as Dan Lilker serves as the super glue that holds VENOMOUS CONCEPT together with his thick-as-fuck rumbling bass lines. Meanwhile, Danny Herrera effectively alternates between punchy punk beats and blasting grindcore, while Shane Embury ably holds down the fort on guitar. All in all, a tight-as-shit exercise in punishing punk with ample helpings of grind, creating an album that while solid as stone, suffers from some inconsistencies and at times, tepid songwriting. That being said, Poisoned Apple nonetheless serves as a capable excursion from some of the underground’s finest. (Century Media Records)