Except after see, and sometimes why

Nathan Hall

Look up “walking contradiction” in an unabridged dictionary and you will probably find a picture of these people.

Formed in Florida in 1997, head-bangers Poison the Well are on the forefront of what can only be accurately described now as intelligent hardcore. Also sometimes flippantly referred to as post-hardcore or emo-core, it’s the grad student version of heavy metal. Confused head-bangers with an embarrassing identity complex, if you will.

The relatively new genre is typified by ridiculously tight black t-shirts, even tighter girls’ jeans and prima-donna hair carefully coiffed and soaked in what looks like Crisco. Yet there are still surly tattoos, cigarettes everywhere, Cookie Monster-style vocals and macho finger pointing. Poison’s style is still technically metal, but there isn’t a dreadlocked DJ to be found anywhere in the mix either. 93X-FM, take note.

The greatest thing about their major label debut “You Comes before You” is that you can still pull off all the silly but fun hardcore dance moves to it without having to compromise with misogynistic, sappy or just plain laughable lyrics. Do the helicopter, the sprinkler and the spin-wheel kick to your heart’s content: It’s all here 100 percent guilt-free. With a sound borrowing heavily from artsy punk ancestors such as Fugazi and Quicksand, the band’s recent gruff teddy-bear performance at the Warped Tour over the weekend in Somerset , Wis., was a welcome, albeit brief, respite from a withering onslaught of mindless Hot Topic clones.

However, this is not to say diehard Slayer pullover purchasers and Swedish church burners should feel intimidated, if that’s at all possible.

Although Trust Kill Records, the upstate New York label on which they got their start, is often branded as elitist, that accusation proves groundless.

Recorded in an abandoned Scandinavian mental hospital and produced by the same people responsible for Meshuggah, “You Comes before You” finds the group juxtaposing complex psychological issues with industrial-strength riffing, yet never devolving into whiny white-bread rap-core. It’s so crazy, it just might work.