Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Verse - Aggression
Verse. Fuck. I wasn't expecting this from them. I have such a love for Rebuild. That record came at the right time in my life. I, too, wanted to rebuild a sense of community. Finally, a straight up American-style hardcore band (with emo parts!!) that cared about stuff and said so - "I give a fuck about the world, so why the fuck don't you?" Still, I got the impression that they (Sean) didn't want to go too far with their lyrics and alienate all the hardcore bros. Cause, for real, the music on that record is dead fucking on and def drew a lot of people in. So, so good. And Sean's voice, goddamn. "Saying Goodbye" is one of the more wrenching songs I have heard in a long time. It still gets me. A lot. It's so real.
Two years down the line, they put out From Anger and Rage, which I found to be musically disappointing, overall. I certainly appreciated the more explicitly social/political tack Sean was taking with the lyrics, but they seemed to be lacking; not as compelling or honest as Rebuild. I felt that this was a band that was coming undone, separating from itself. From Anger and Rage definitely has its moments, but it just doesn't cut it when held up to its predecessor.
So here we are, another two years later. I heard that Aggression was coming out soon. I checked the song "The New Fury" on their myspace. Sounded pretty good, better than expected. Then Punknews or some other site was streaming the whole record for a bit before it came out. I listened to it once through and felt it. I immediately ordered the LP. When it came, I opened it up, put it on and sat down with the insert, reading the lyrics along with the record. I was so moved, touched and impressed. He doesn't give a fuck about catering to the bros anymore, if he did in the first place. He wants to reach them. He wants them to learn.
Sean's voice, somehow, is more emotive than ever. The "No more control" during the drum break in "The New Fury" is so intense; it packs so much feeling, earnestness and meaning into three words. At that time, three words they are not any more, but a litany of stories and experiences that converge to produce that tone from a man's body. That's the thing about Verse, especially when seeing them - it becomes clear that Sean has this visceral earnestness about him, something that is preciously rare in my world.
The music is fucking brutal in ways that Verse never has been before. Overall, it's not nearly as fast or as punky as Rebuild. But that's totally fine. It's just different. It's definitely still Verse. They are taking parts of what they have done before, things they have always done, and bringing them to new levels. Fuck, half of "The New Fury" sounds like a mid-90s emo song, with its octave chords going this way and that. They have really done well with the pretty parts on this record, as well as the crushing chug. The last thirty seconds or so of "Suffering to Live, Scared of Love" (starting with "Right!!") demonstrate both of these points, as well as the band's deft execution of merging them, excellently. It all comes together so well. Every song is excellent. There are no throwaways or boring passages here.
And as for the lyrics, fucking christ. Everything. All over the damn record. Gone are the songs about hardcore or "the scene." It's all social and political now. Here are some of my favorites: "All of my heroes have been ruined or written out of history" ("Scream") - "New wars, new kings, the pigs came here to take everything", "I've read about Hampton's murder by the state while he slept" ("Old Guards, New Methods") - "You're raised for profit and you were born to fail" ("Sons and Daughters") - "Sleep one night under this bridge in this man's shoes and you'll learn there is no god" - ("Story of a Free Man: Chapter One"). There are so many other lines and parts of songs that I could not possibly contextualize adequately in this medium. They need to be heard in their original state to be appreciated. This is particularly so with the several songs which are stories, some even replete with quotes. This works really well, and not just with the three-part "Story of a Free Man." Accordingly, they do not lend themselves to quoting individual lines without losing a whole lot of meaning.
AND the band put together a reading list for the insert of progressive and revolutionary books that cover a variety of topics and perspectives, touching on America's rise to global dominance, veganism, the "war on terror," domestic resistance to state oppression, such as the Black Panther Party and the Weathermen/Weather Underground Organization and more. And they made a documentary list. This doesn't happen with this kind of hardcore. I love it. I never thought Bridge 9 would put out a record "dedicated to the revolutionary spirit and radical thought of oppressed people worldwide." Listen up, white kids. You NEED this shit. Throw out the Dunks.