I can't say I miss much about growing up in the rural parts of New Hampshire and Massachusetts. There isn't much to do, there's no such thing as a decent music scene, and the winters are unbelievably cold. One thing I do miss, though, is the random mid-summer thunderstorm that only New England seems to be able to produce. It is fierce, it is intense, and it strikes down what seems like a thousand lightning bolts before it disappears as quickly as it seems to have arrived. The best part was that they were always warm; the rain was forgiving and the air was fresh. It almost made the winters tolerable.
I have a feeling that if all of music could be compared to weather (I know, I'm stretching it here), Providence, Rhode Island's Verse would be this New England thunderstorm. The album rolls into your ears with a growl and leaves with an echo, and for the 25 minutes in between it is a massive storm of sound. The intensity born on Rebuild is unlike most hardcore of today, and has -- quite surprisingly -- gone relatively overlooked throughout the punk community.
What sets Verse apart from the crowd is their no-frills approach to their message. As the record dawns with the title track, the very first line, which sounds more like the words are being torn out of a throat than they are being screamed, rings with, "We need to rebuild a sense of community." This positive outlook has been quite prominent in a few major releases in the underground and punk scene these days, notably Latterman's No Matter Where We Go..! and the Lawrence Arms' Oh! Calcutta!. However, Verse captures it in a far more aggressive approach, and does it quite differently than a majority of the 'scene' they would be attributed to.
Instead of whining about community with ironically lengthy song titles, the music on Rebuild speaks, at quite high volumes, for itself. The thunderstorm analogy isn't far off; this record will crash down instantly and then revert to a guitar riff or a rolling bassline, only to strike back with twice the vigor. But as angry as the vocals are, they are equally positive and hopeful, working throughout the entire record to try to reinstill a sense of community in a scene that has seemingly been torn apart since the Internet dawned upon the subculture.
Musically, this is about as loud as it gets without becoming nauseatingly hard to get into. While a lot of bands are riding high upon the current grindcore trend, Verse keeps the melody in melodic hardcore, leaving plenty of time for breakdowns and tempo changes without keeping the listener trying to keep up with the music. The band has a message and they want people to hear it and to be engulfed by it, which is exactly what this album does.
There aren't many faults to this album, and if I had to point out one, I'd say the recording quality is awfully rough. While it matches with the band's sound quite well, I'd like to hear it if the sound didn't seem overly distorted. There are a couple times toward the end of the record where the music loses me, if only for a minute, simply because it lacks a proper hook that a majority of the album possesses.
I'd suggest this album if you were wanting a little more aggression out of Smoke or Fire's 2005 effort, Above the City, or are looking for any hidden treasures in the department of great, sing-along melodic hardcore with an incredbily positive message.