Review Summary: Well it certainly beats working at a pizza place
Of all the uniting factors in hardcore punk, one of the most prevalent is that of aging and how a band confronts it. It makes sense. The genre is so rooted in youth-- its pervasive naivete and aches. Some try to break from the mold, freeing themselves from the constraints of hardcore and breaking into more “mature” territory. The experiment isn’t without its share of successes, but it has many more offerings like Defeater’s Empty Days And Sleepless Nights
that strangle itself with over-dramatic, overwrought themes and pisspoor ability to execute them. On the flip side, others like Henry Rollins chose to confront aging with a stolid “Fu
ck you” by choosing to stick steadfast in principles and philosophy, more or less. Let’s not even mention recent Cro-Mags activity... To adapt or to maintain-- amidst their surprising, recent reformation, Verse were faced with this issue. Rather than commit heartedly to one side or the other, their latest displays the reformed band toeing the line of maturation and progression with clarity and grace.
Merely perusing the tracklisting, one can see that Bitter Clarity, Uncommon Grace
sort of wrinkles strewn in the mix; the trio of “Segue” tracks and the duet of “Selfish” and “Selfless” are most visible. Little complexities in structure like this may not seem like much, but for a former straight-edge band (“breaking edge” was the reason for the breakup, in fact) that was so
straightforward and brazen, intricacies like these are conspicuous. Curiously, this stylistic change in pace doesn’t necessarily equal a shift in sound for Verse. Similar to Aggression
, we’re still treated to an impassioned, rhythmic pummeling from the punks amidst crunching (yet somewhat groovy, even) guitars and a general lack of abrasion throughout.
Don’t take Bitter Clarity
for stagnation, though. While Verse maintain sonically on a similar track, the listener is treated to a nice change of pace via aspects like the aforementioned “Segue” tracks. The breaks add a connecting factor throughout, displaying a band that knows when to shut up, and how that can add emphasis on sections that call for it. Tracks like “You And I Are The Fortunate Ones” and “The Silver Spoon And The Empty Plate” are two in particular whose energy is only highlighted by the more conscientious pacing.
More than anything, this is the same Verse from previous records-- and that’s by no means a bad thing. The album is powerful and punchy, but who didn’t see that coming" A few of the early tracks are definitely competitors for Verse’s best-written songs, even. Bitter Clarity, Uncommon Grace
leaves them room to grow, but doesn’t shoot impossibly high by any means. Too many bands fear wilting away and overwater the plant-- killing it in the process, but Verse avoid this path with ease and display a penchant for natural progression.