VERSA
Cities Built on Sand


2.0
poor

Review

by Steven McMahan USER (49 Reviews)
April 23rd, 2009 | 29 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Let me take you back to a time before Sierra Kusterbeck, when VersaEmerge made this forgettable EP with an annoying male vocalist.

If you haven’t heard of them yet, you should know that VersaEmerge bear more than a couple similarities to the more well known Paramore: an attractive female vocalist (who even sounds like Ms. Williams), an extremely catchy pop punk sound, and a spot on the Fueled By Ramen record label. Comparisons aside, what the band lacks in originality, they more than make up for with oh-so-slightly experimental keyboards, catchiness, and all-around fun qualities (in no small part thanks to Sierra Kusterbeck’s always amazing voice).

Rewind back a couple years: original vocalist Spencer Pearson stands behind the mike, and a notably different line-up plays behind him as well. The band is rooted in pop punk, but also try to incorporate hardcore-ish growls into the music. This works two-fold against them: Pearson all too often sings in an annoyingly bad high pitch, and the incorporation of growls (as well as a full-on breakdown in the title track) just doesn’t work at all. Oddly enough, when Pearson sings in a somewhat lower register, he’s not just bearable, but good. For whatever reason, though, such moments are rare and drowned out by a sea of prepubescent whines.

The rest of the band isn’t doesn’t really make up for it, either. With the exception of a guitar solo in “Forced Doors on the 14th Floor”, it’s mainly power chords, mediocre drumming and keyboards that are more out of place than they are complementary. When growls are incorporated, then guitar and drums will follow the standard “jun jun jun” pattern that’s common in so much metalcore. The songwriting feels illogical and random as a result of such moments, although they’re a bit more enjoyable than Craig O-I mean, Pearson’s nasally wail.

Coming in at an extremely brief 20 minutes, the only real strength of the Cities Built on Sand EP is how quickly it goes by. It’s not completely terrible, but it most certainly isn’t good either. The major impression that most will get from these 5 songs? Thank goodness they don’t sound like a bad pop punk-meets-metalcore band anymore, and the original vocalist has been replaced by Sierra Kusterbeck, who, if nothing else, is quite pleasant to look at.

Download if you must:
Forced Doors on the 14th Floor



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user ratings (38)
Chart.
3.3
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Athom
Staff Reviewer
April 23rd 2009


17222 Comments


i didnt think it was that bad.

ninjuice
April 23rd 2009


6760 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Short I know, but it's only 5 songs. And before you take issue with my intro, I couldn't really think of any other way to begin this.

Edit: I obviously did.This Message Edited On 04.23.09

itchyandscratchy
April 23rd 2009


314 Comments


this was more boring than bad

BallsToTheWall
April 23rd 2009


44620 Comments


Pop mosh? Will not check this out. No chick = no versaEmerge. Good review.

Digging: Mare Cognitum - Phobos Monolith

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
April 23rd 2009


20857 Comments


Good review Steve. I don't think it's too short at all. I wish I could be as direct with my EP reviews.

I've only heard 'Forced Doors...' . It definitely wasn't anything too bad, but yeah, it didn't stick out as anything great either.

As for their later Sierra sung stuff, I need to give it a few more listens before I commit. Pretty good, but I expected to like it more. It will definitely be interesting to hear a full album by them.

Phantom
April 23rd 2009


8930 Comments


Will stick to Sierra VE. Nice review though.

Willie
Moderator
April 23rd 2009


16049 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I checked this out and it is as bad as you say. Someone was saying that a lot of these songs were re-recorded with their new vocalist. It could be interesting to listen to this and then that just to see how they've changed. Nice review too.

Digging: Skrew - Universal Immolation

ninjuice
April 23rd 2009


6760 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

As for their later Sierra sung stuff, I need to give it a few more listens before I commit. Pretty good, but I expected to like it more. It will definitely be interesting to hear a full album by them.

Yeah I was kinda surprised that you didn't seem to know of them. Hopefully the self-titled EP grows on you, and I definitely can't wait for a full length album.

Tits McGee
April 23rd 2009


1876 Comments


I really just don't click with this band at all, and I imagine this won't change my opinon on them either. Nice review.

blackcanoflysol
June 6th 2009


1 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This review is pathetically biased just to put up new VershitEmerge and knock down their old music. There's nothing wrong with it, the vocals are not terrible at all, you just put it down because it's not your sellout FBR crap.

The fact you want to take cheap shots at Craig Owens just shows your poor taste in music.

Misleading review, great EP. I'd recommend it for fans of new Saosin.

ninjuice
June 6th 2009


6760 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Dear immature Craig Owens/old VE fan:
The question at the bottom says: "Was this review well written?" Not "Do you agree with this?"

Also what is FBR? Or should I care?

whathmmcomeagain
July 25th 2009


1 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I actually like their old lead singer better. and I can't believe you are dissing on Craig Owens. He has one of the best male voices I have ever heard. You probably think Mark Trombino's (Blink 182) voice is really good, in retrospect. I don't understand people's opinion on good voices, because I think if you have good range, where you can go high and low, and it sounds good, it's a good voice; a lot of people see a good voice as one that is set as a default voice for a guy or a girl, and that just does not make sense. Just because a guy can go high doesn't mean he is gay or an emo band singer or whatever you guys want to stereotype them as. It is all so stupid the way people judge a voice. I loved this EP and the review was super duper biased, or else it might have been good.

As for Sierra's voice, it is very good. But if we looked at it from the way you looked at Spencer Pearson's voice, it would not be good because she doesn't have the stereotypical good girl's voice; she has the "I can sing something besides pop and it'll be stuff girls AND guys will listen to." But I mean, besides liking her voice, I still like Spencer's stuff better. I wish I knew if he was in a new band or not.

ninjuice
July 25th 2009


6760 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

First things first: thanks for not negging because most newbies who disagree with reviews do.

You probably think Mark Trombino's (Blink 182) voice is really good, in retrospect.

I don't even know who that is but if it's the guy besides Delonge then yes, he has an okay/good voice.
I can't believe you are dissing on Craig Owens. He has one of the best male voices I have ever heard.

Owens is the perfect example of how a high-pitched singer can sound awful. I love the voices of Claudio Sanchez, Cedric Bixler-Zavala, Stephen Christian, the guy from Motion City Soundtrack, and Bruce Dickinson, although the latter hardly belongs in the same sentence as them. (Freddie Mercury counts to a lesser extent)
the review was super duper biased, or else it might have been good.

Opinions = bias, I guess. You'd write an equally "biased" review if you tried.
It's pop mosh with a crappy high-pitched singer. The metalcore aspects don't work at all, and Pearson only sounds good at rare points, so that's why it sucks. You would have gotten this from the review but I guess your fanboyism interfered as soon as you saw the 2.

mofo2
August 10th 2009


14 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Well I'll say that Ennui is the only song that really does it for me.

frozenocean99
August 15th 2009


39 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i will say sierra has a hard time hitting any of her notes live from what i saw, but besides that this album the music was by far way more creative than anything theyve created with her, i personally love the vocals and melodies on this

Zman
March 22nd 2010


1 Comments


honestly, for a man who critisizes other peoples art for a living, you obviously dont understand the EP. if you take a wide view to this album you will realize that its beauty is in its simplicity. although Spencer didnt have a voice like everyone else, it fit with the music, and it was different. it had its own style to it. in fact i think the band went south when the lineup changed. i think that this new girls voice is good, but we have all heard it before. Paramore, Flyleaf. its been done. what original VersaEmerge did was new, it was artsy, and their lyrics were amazing. Cities Built on Sand was not only creative, but it was something the new versaemerge lost the balls for.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
March 22nd 2010


17222 Comments


"for a man who critisizes other peoples art for a living"

no one gets paid for this. not even staff. it's just a way to kill time in between/after classes or at
work for most users. if you disagree with it so much, write your own review for it. opinion site is
opinion site.

BallsToTheWall
March 22nd 2010


44620 Comments


Make like a tree and fuck off Zman.

joelco92
May 12th 2010


64 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I actually really like this EP, well not the entire EP, but the title track and Ennui are great.

giantewok
December 28th 2010


1 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This EP was a good start to what could have been something beautiful... This band should have changed names when that random girl joined...
she just went and shifted this band into something completely different than what it was first about..
Steven McMahan, you shouldn't be called a critic of any sort, you're just a negative asshole that listens to a certain mainstream sound of music that, when not heard by your ears, you just whine about not being the same as your so-called "fashionable" style in music.
you disregarded both the lyrics and creative thinking put into these songs by the ORIGINAL BAND MEMBERS of this band.
I seriously made an account just to tell you that you are TERRIBLE at this!
by the way, I want to hear you try to sing like craig owens. you'll crack like a prepubescent child.
and while you're at that, try to learn how to scream... that will be great!
lets see you TRY to scream right and fail..
now lets see who quotes.

ps- i'm blown.
pss- Pearsons going to shine in Decoder now.



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