Recorded at Godcity Studios by Jay Maas
Bridge 9 Records
I could put a big sticker on this album that reads 'BEST HARDCORE ALBUM '08' and that's genuinely how i feel about this latest production from former* Rhode Island Hardcore men Verse. Having released two previous albums which followed on from their hotly tipped debut EP '4 Songs' Verse went back to Godcity Studios in spring 2008 to carve out something more intense, something more evocative, yet kept the passion for political and social stability firmly entrenched in their lyrics - a trait that allowed so many of us to hook onto them from foundation level.
'Aggression' comes together as brooding protest hardcore meets an emotive back-drop of soaring guitar, the usual cacophony of fast tempo hardcore riffing gives way in parts to a more alluring build-up of meandering sound, this i believe works in accordance with the unifying message screamed from the back of Sean Murphy's throat; to lift the whole scope of the album, to that of epic proportions.
Lift off arrives in the shape of 'The New Fury' with a soft 'lullaby-esque' riff leading a delicate charge, soon enough washed away by a torrent of angsty vocals. Listeners can hear points where Murphy's voice begins to crack, duly under the weight of his own passion. This track goes on to destroy the ear drums and melt the mind with line such as 'We still struggle with the fact that one percent has ninety-nine on their knees' that are sure to sit uncomfortably in any one's thoughts. The next few tracks 'Old Guards New Methods', 'Signals' and 'Scream' carry on in a typical Hardcore manner one after another, however that's not to say they don't all batter you senseless one by one!
The Spine of 'Aggression' See's a 6 minute track split into three telling 'The Story Of A Free Man.' this being a testament to Verse's collective song writing prowess, each chapter brings you in closer than the last one did. Telling the story of one man's desperation to turn his and everyone else's lives around, this epic continues along - forever building into something greater. The final chapter 'Serenity' imposes itself as the crux, and does this with all the conviction in the world.. 'He walked away a new man...this is the story of a free man'
One of the following tracks 'Unlearn' is a stand out effort, from the bludgeoning, initial impact it makes to the majesty of the sudden apex, groove pours from the guitars. Snapping at it's heals is 'Earth And Stone' - the penultimate track, Murphy unleashes all in this three and a half minute bombshell, with screams and dissatisfied groans fusing yet again with the poetry of Verse's lyrics; 'Few walked beside him, many just passed him by, so he'll just stay numb and sit there; quietly fall behind.'
The albums conclusion starts with what can only be described as a 'gentle crash' once again falsely leading the listener into expecting something he wont get, mimicking 'The New Fury.' An explosion of verse (no pun intended) and destruction from the instruments melds into a call to arms chant of 'Aggression, Aggression!' which itself peels off to reveal an atmospheric finish tinged with a sense of urgency.
This is a fantastic album, and it's hard to pick fault. The only worry is where do Verse continue? as long as they kept evolving and delivering on the scale that 'Aggression' does then there's no reason not to believe they will become stalwarts of the Hardcore scene for years to come
* Verse have subsequently disbanded. The Hardcore community is in mourning!
1. The New Fury
2. Old Guards, New Methods
3. Suffering To Live, Scared Of Love
6. Story Of A Free Man - Chapter One: The End Of Innocence
7. Story Of A Free Man - Chapter Two: The Cold Return
8. Story Of A Free Man - Chapter Three: Serenity
9. Blind Salvation
11. Earth And Stone
12. Sons And Daughters
Click here to listen to Aggression
Verse playing at Leeds Rios, courtesy of Chris Ensell