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In Focus: Poisonous Birds

Tom Ridley Finn Mclean Poisonous Birds

At The Monolith we’re firm believers in the future of alternative music. No matter the style or genre, if it’s good then we’ll champion it.

Every month we’ll be taking an extra special, in-depth look at one artist we’re collectively bouncing off the walls about; someone we expect to shape the future of not just their own genre, but music as a whole. These artists are the best of the underground and whether they’re signed and recognised or self-represented, they’re worth your attention.

Poisonous Birds

When you think of poisonous animals, birds likely aren’t the first that spring to mind. Whilst they do exist – the common quail and the hooded pitohui of New Guinea acquire toxins from their diet – they’re something of an anomaly.

Which neatly brings me to Poisonous Birds, our The Monolith’s In Focus artist for February, and something of an anomaly themselves. The compact pairing of multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Tom Ridley and drummer Finn Mclean, Poisonous Birds have been steadily building towards their first release since starting the project in 2015, and they’re now ready to release debut EP Gentle Earth.

The two may be familiar to followers of tech metal; both were formerly part of Midlands tech metal five-piece Chronographs, whose EP Nausea we reviewed very favourably back in 2013 (and Finn is also a part of Nottingham ‘gritpop’ band Mowbeck).

But tech metal Poisonous Birds ain’t. Chronographs had already started to head in a different direction before they deactivated, playing around with more expansive elements and leaning in a much lighter direction than previously, but Tom and Finn have taken several dodging sidesteps away from any semblance of their former band’s sound – and it’s really and truly something else.

Experienced musicians both, Poisonous Birds have taken the necessary time to fully realise a sound both fresh and exciting. Taking elements from post-rock, dystopian synths, cinematic scores and shoegaze, Gentle Earth is a consummate piece of work that not only sounds original, but feels it too.


Live, Tom uses live loops and sequencing, alongside Finn’s drums, to interpret their material, delivering vivid waves of sound.

It’s clear that Poisonous Birds have taken steps to ensure the quality of their work, that they’re taken seriously – and that they don’t get ahead of themselves. In an interview dropping later this month, Tom expresses a disinterest in selling t-shirts or counting like and followers. They have a mailing list instead of a Facebook page to keep followers in the loop, and if you want to talk to them, all you have to do is email them and they’ll respond; they’re much more interested in talking to people and making a connection that lasts than lining their pockets.

Poisonous Birds email response

Poisonous Birds are just a bit special. Join us in our full stream of their EP Gentle Earth and see for yourself, and keep your eyes peeled for the rest of the month for more from and about the band.

Poisonous Birds on Twitter // Poisonous Birds on Instagram // Poisonous Birds on Ello