by EyeForAnEye USER (29 Reviews)
April 20th, 2018 | 4 replies

Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A decade after its release, Aggression remains a viscerally human and relevant album.

In the 1976 classic Network, crazed newscaster Howard Beale sat up from his desk and looked into the camera and said ‘I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.’ Preceding his proclamation Beale, played by Peter Finch, made a list of every grievance he had with society in the 1970s listing crime, the environment, war, inflation, and how the world was getting smaller. At the end of his rant, the film sees his enthralled audience relating to him and running to their windows and yelling that, they too, were as mad as hell. In the decades since being released, this scene is recognized as an iconic and timeless moment in film that is still relatable to this day. His feelings of rage and despair resonate and elicit a reaction from whoever is watching the scene in a way similar to how the audience in the film reacted no matter how removed we are from the time it was filmed in. To us it will feel as real now as it did then. Much like Finch’s iconic scene, Aggression, released in 2008 by Providence hardcore band Verse through Bridge Nine Records connects with the listener and feels just as authentic in 2018 as it did in the when it was originally released a decade ago.

Aggression, the third album Verse released during their time as a band, was dropped during the Bush era. Many will recall how those days were defined by economic crisis, endless war, racial tension, political divide, and an overall feeling of hopelessness. Aggression also recalls those feelings as it was written because of, and in response, to it. Many times, these kinds of albums tend to lose their clarity and relevance as the times change, new figures are elected, economies fluctuate, and soldiers come home. Grab any 80s punk album that spends its time focusing on Reagan or the Berlin Wall and you won’t be able to relate on a human level in 2018. While those albums may give the listener an idea of what the artist was feeling at the time, it will fail to give the listener a sense and feeling of now merely giving the listener an understanding of what people were feeling then. It could be that Aggression’s feeling of relevance is aided by the fact many feel the same way today in the Trump era as they did during Bush but most of the “Rock Against Bush” albums don’t deliver the same level of corporeal familiarity that Aggression does a decade later and today may even feel inauthentic to the listener.

In order to make a work of art that is iconic and unforgettable, you don’t have to be the greatest of all time. You do not have to do anything new. You don’t have to do anything different. You just need to do it right and use your tools correctly. Was Peter Finch the greatest actor of all time? Of course not. He simply took the scene, the set, and the script and made it his own. He used them to make you feel his energy, rage, and emotion and every word he said and every action he made had a purpose and its overall goal was to suck you into his world and make it come alive so you can experience it even though today you are decades away from the world he lived in but you are still able to relate and draw lucid parallels without a feeling that he is intentionally being vague in order for you to do that. Aggression fits the very same strategy that Finch used, one that on paper looks so easy to pull off but nearly impossible to execute and if done improperly can be disastrous. With Aggression, Verse does nothing new and nothing different from what many other bands in Hardcore have done before and after Aggression’s release. Verse succeeds in delivering a masterpiece supported by songwriting that complements each moment, doing it right and using their tools effectively.

The three part Story of a Free Man puts you in the shoes of a person who experiences rock bottom, desolation, loss, and eventual salvation where each movement is supported by a sound that either paints feelings of despair, rage, or freedom and relief based on the story being told in each chapter. The New Fury immediately sucks you in with a wall of sound that complements the world of hopelessness that vocalist Sean Murphy illustrates before falling into a breakdown as a call against those who create this hopelessness is made by him. Other songs tend to use the fact your are now in their world to interact with you as some of the songs are written and presented as questions to the listener begging for an answer. This is abundantly clear on Unlearn where Murphy uses the song to grab you and ask, “Will you live your life spending or will you spend your life living?” Verse takes their sound and uses their tools to to engineer command over every note and lyric so they have a purpose and make the album come alive and feel relevant. The listener is sucked in and is compelled to reach out, feel, and experience the world that Aggression was written in and force them to draw parallels to their own. As the album progresses, Aggression slowly stops being about Bush, Iraq, and the recession. It never was about those things. It was always about the parallels drawn by the listener between Aggression and their present, tangible reality.

Aggression warrants multiple listens each time you let it play much like how Finch’s performance deserves multiple replays. However, Network and Finch’s performance was overshadowed by a very busy time in film with multiple classic releases and it never gained appreciation until after Finch’s eventual death. Likewise, the golden age of Bridge Nine was the late 2000s which saw huge releases by acts like Ceremony and Have Heart who reached enormous success, acclaim, and recognition releasing albums often viewed as their best with the label. Woefully underrated, Verse also released their best work during this era with Aggression which can be seen as one of the finest and authentic albums of the past ten years for Verse, Bridge Nine, and Hardcore for its lifelike mastery supported by perpetual, uncomfortable, listener driven relevance.

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Comments:Add a Comment 
April 20th 2018


Album Rating: 5.0

its been close to four years since dropping a review here so I may be a bit rusty but im happy to be back

Contributing Reviewer
April 20th 2018


Album Rating: 3.0

nice rev, have a pos

April 20th 2018


Album Rating: 5.0

Hey thanks! Much appreciated

April 20th 2018


Love this album so much

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