Review Summary: Powerful, emotional hardcore for the politically savvy.
Verse succeed in something really special on this album. They present the listening with a blueprint for what modern hardcore should be. There is nothing groundbreaking on this album, instead Verse manages to refine all different aspects of hardcore and create a gem.
I'll begin with the song writing. Most songs begin with a short guitar interlude before launching into thundering riffs and tight, crushing drums. The vocals push the edge of what his voice is capable of, and given the politically charged lyrical content, it's easy to understand why. What is suprising about this band though, is how individually unremarkable each are. I wouldn't assume that Verse are bad musicians because this album is great and each part locks into all of the others perfectly, something they have perfected over the course of three albums.
This band has proved the test of time through steady touring and solid releases.
The lyrics and vocals are possibly my favorite part of this album. The New Fury kicks off the album with passionate lyrics, bellowed, not processed. His voice often breaks, but the urgency with which he screams really translates from what he is saying. On Earth and Stone, there is evidence of attempted singing, cleverly buried in the mix and behind his own scarred voice. Describing how political the lyrics are could put off some listeners, but never fear. I don't want to hear anymore songs about how bad Bush is from commercially owned and operated bands. Verse instead addresses more personal issues to real people, with real problems existing in today's America. One of my favorite lyrics of the album appears at the end of a three part epic about the life of a soldiers son. Chapter one describes a homeless man waking up and asking himself why he is in his situation. He recalls his father going to war and his own descent into rage and depression. He turns to addiction to numb his pain. In Chapter 2, his father is killed at war and the son recognizes that it was never his fathers war to fight. Then we find our character where the story began. Chapter two builds steadily into his conclusion that his own life is not worth throwing away and explodes into chapter three, "I'm walking away from this," he said with conviction. He walked away a new man...This is the story of a free man.
Though the first track might be my favorite, none of them are very far removed from each other in terms of quality. The production is consistently top notch, allowing the listener to hear everything clearly without taking away from the emotional impact of the record. The guitars are melodic and heavy, providing solid, catchy melodies and harmonies, which is really nice to have in a genre where lyrics often need to be read to be understood, and singing along can catch plenty of unwanted stares, or at the very least, a phone call from a concerned neighbor.
Seriously, all fans of hardcore should be listening to this. It very well may be the best hardcore release of 2008. I'm excited to see what else Verse release, given their progression from earlier albums. I am excited for the next time I get to see these guys.
P.S. Ending your album with a chant of the title, is apparently awesome. I don't think I would have believed that before I heard this.