Album of the Month... February 2015

Eternal Misery by No Zodiac

23 Jun 2012

Verse: 'Bitter Clarity, Uncommon Grace'

Verse - Bitter Clarity, Uncommon Grace

There has been a lot of hype since Verse have reformed, mostly positive but some negative and at the time I didn’t really know what to think, but after listening to Bitter Clarity, Uncommon Grace I am really glad that they decided to get back together. There is nothing special to the sound that Verse produce with their modern, melodic style of hardcore but the way they get their messages of emotion and anxiety across just really does it for me more than some other melodic bands do. From the screaming vocals of Sean Murphy to the instrumental guitar melodies and drum rhythms made by the band, from heavy to melodic, I think Verse have accomplished a sound of their own. This is definitely an essential record to have as Verse are an asset to the hardcore scene once again and this full length makes you want to detonate your emotions.

In my opinion, Bitter Clarity, Uncommon Grace isn’t as powerful as Rebuild and From Anger and Rage however, I listened these albums to death when they were released so they take a lot of beating. I was pleasantly surprised to still hear the anger and passion come out through their music instantaneously from the first track The Selfish of the Earth. There are a couple of tracks (The Silver Spoon and the Empty Plate and Oceanic Tendencies) which are shorter than Verse’s average song times, where time keeping it short and sweet but still managing to maintain their straight-to-the-point lyrical content and sounds. This isn’t the case for every track though, as Verse have still gone above and beyond to produce some intense guitar melodies; this is especially apparent in The Relevance of our Disconnect and with the technical solo in The Selfless of the Earth. This is not an album to be ignored as it provides the listener with outrivaled melodies, occasionally broken up with relaxing interludes throughout constructing a quality atmosphere.

Bitter Clarity, Uncommon Grace isn’t the most perfect record and I am pretty sure it is not to everyone’s taste, but who cares - the energy and motivation is still consistent throughout the record. It’s great to see individuals in the hardcore scene stay passionate and enthusiastic to cover topics such as politics, emotions and aggression. Some of the guitar sequences sound cluttered, evident clearly on The Selfless of the Earth and at times there is a lot of spoken words rather than shouting which could put off some listeners but, for me, this shows variety and a signature to Verse’s sound. The same emotion and energy can be detected from their previous material and personally I think you should do yourself a favour and pick this record up as it will definitely grow on you. Get it here from B9. 

8 Jun 2012

Expire: 'Pendulum Swings'

Expire - Pendulum Swings

Pendulum Swings is the brand new full length from Expire released on Bridge Nine Records. This is already one of my favourite albums of 2012 and contains some of the best quality hardcore I have heard in a while. With 12 new tracks, Expire are setting the standards high with the introduction track Just Fine kicking off this album which is full of power and energy and you can really feel the intensity as screaming vocals kick in. The consistency shows throughout the record with a merciless sound on every track. The songs are all under 2 minutes and are enraged leaving you feel a little dishearten but nonetheless is a powerhouse of a record.

Pendulum Swings sounds a little heavier than their previous material and which I think serves as a fresh sound for them. Don’t get me wrong Suffer the Cycle, Grim Rhythm and their Demo were all fantastic but this full length really breaks through with its hard hitting sound. I really like the tracks Spit it Out, Anxiety and Pills and a Promise which had me with my fists tight wanting to mosh around the room and gave me goose bumps on first listen. Expire have progressed well within each release that they have put out. There are a few more breakdown parts than usual that come out of nowhere, lots of two step parts and the album has a good flow to it from the instrumental parts from start to finish. 

The song structures are very similar track by track which is evident in Dig Deep, Abyss and Focus and shows a similar approach to their song writing. This can be a little repetitive but the aggressiveness and power in each song easily makes up for this. There is just something about their heavy crushing guitar riffs and hard hitting drum beats that leaves me wanting to hear more. The vocals are very angry and screamy which adds to the impact of this record and it just seems to take hold of me every time. Although the songs are short, this isn’t a negative aspect as it makes you want to repeat the record over and over.

This album has had a lot of praise since its release and to be honest, I can’t fault it. Pendulum Swings appeals to everyone in the hardcore scene, from older tastes to more modern tastes and if you’re into the more ‘tougher’ hardcore sound then this is the record for you. This album is very heavy; fast paced and is best left on repeat. Don’t knock this until you've listened to it. Pick it up here.