Verse - Aggression (Cover Artwork)


Verse: AggressionAggression (2008)
Bridge Nine Records

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:

Contributed by: InaGreendaseBrian
(others by this writer | submit your own)

7 Seconds was onto something when a hypothetical character remarked in "Aim to Please" that the band's debut EP was "just divine." It's an attitude that plagues punk rock, where a considerable number of bands receive disappointed reactions with every new release, especially in hardcore. Verse is .
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7 Seconds was onto something when a hypothetical character remarked in "Aim to Please" that the band's debut EP was "just divine." It's an attitude that plagues punk rock, where a considerable number of bands receive disappointed reactions with every new release, especially in hardcore.

Verse is a rare exception to this rule. Frankly, their debut EP, 4 Songs, was promising but hardly divine. Despite the praise they were blessed with for the full-length followup, 2004's Rebuild, the album really just did precisely that (rebuild) to the foundation of the band's sound, which showed considerable advancement on 2006's From Anger and Rage. Through this steady progression, Verse has developed into one of the touring circuit's premier acts, a position that has now been rightfully and justifiably solidified with Aggression, their third full-length, Bridge Nine debut and easily their best effort yet.

Since the band's inception, a Bane mention in regards to their musical footing has dogged them for better or worse, but on Aggression, there's little ground to stand on such a comparison. If anything, Aggression imagines Rage Against the Machine playing the type of epic, brooding hardcore that countless are attempting in the mid-2000s but few have mastered. The fact that frontman Sean Murphy passionately pleas poignant political protests so profusely certainly doesn't hurt the parallel.

The absolutely mammoth crush of opener "The New Fury" misleads listeners with a quiet, stand-alone riff before detonating with Murphy's cry of "They've got themselves a new spin on the story, / twisted for one-sided glory." While it's possibly the best track on the album, the following songs hardly slouch. Verse pick up the tempo in "Blind Salvation" and "Old Guards, New Methods," the latter in which Murphy demands, "What about the lack of education and lack of love? / But most of all: / What about the innocent in rooms with bars and three walls? / Can you tell me, / where is the justice in Philly for MOVE and Mr. Jamal?" Aggression is desperate enough, but Murphy lets loose fully in the unraveling "Scream."

Much has been made about the central part of the record, 'Story of a Free Man,' what's made out to be a six-minute song or so broken up into three 'chapters'/tracks: "The End of Innocence," "The Cold Return" and "Serenity." In truth, there's some clear distinctions between the first two chapters, but the second flows perfectly into the last. It's not quite the extravagant accomplishment it could be, but each subsequent chapter is better than the last, with "The Cold Return" containing a captivatingly repetitive declaration ("'Will we ever see an end to this?' he said.") and "Serenity" made up entirely of a huge, impressive buildup and explosion. The fact that the story revolves around a father killed at war gives the piece some strong depth and substance.

The record winds down with "Earth and Stone," with its spectacular yelled chorus of "Watched a man climb a mountain, / watched that man's end of time," and then the off-the-cuff shouts of the album title on closer "Sons and Daughters," where Verse choose to keep the urgency going over a superb, energized tempo, with the song taking a restrained finish through some increasing volume and atmosphere.

Only once do Verse seem to truly recycle themselves, with the introduction of the breathless "Unlearn" suspiciously reminiscent of the band's own "Hard to Breathe" from From Anger and Rage.

Aggression is assuredly one of hardcore's standout moments in 2008, but one hopes that Verse becomes more than a moment in time and instead a sustainable, legitimately veteran band who continues to improve and impress with every following call-to-arms of desperation, anguish and passion.

Aggression at the band's Punknews.org profile page


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
swellersfan7407 (February 27, 2009)

fuck they broke up

fuck0 (July 18, 2008)

Solid record. It's hard to find much to critisize about it. A little bit boring after a couple listens. I love their music, just wish theyd be more creative with their writing.

inagreendase (July 3, 2008)

Dan, I haven't quite a clue who you are, but yep, I take notes.

imisschampion (June 25, 2008)

So good

WaitingRoom (June 22, 2008)

None of the songs really stand out in my mind, I'll just have to keep listening to it more.

WaitingRoom (June 22, 2008)

None of the songs really stand out in my mind, I'll just have to keep listening to it more.

danpib08 (June 21, 2008)

Brian is the king of illiteration, he dives deep into the thesaurus when he writes his reviews. Mr. Graffin would be so proud. I am impressed with his accuracy as well, I have stood next to him at some shows and he can recall the set time and list for a lot of the shows, I haven't noticed if he takes notes or not.

danpib08 (June 20, 2008)

Eh, it's OK, I will keep trying to like it. I am anxious for the new Have Heart.

acslater (June 19, 2008)

Although this album may be lacking in "balls" in reference to thick bottom heavy guitars and over the top gangs, I think it is one of the most passionate and intelligent hardcore albums recently released. Definitely in my current top 5.

foldskool (June 19, 2008)

listened to the stream of like the first three songs, pretty much standard hardcore with no real balls. Boring. Next.

TheMarc (June 18, 2008)

Man, this is rocking. That first track seriously rips hard.

breakout (June 18, 2008)

i could have guessed where those 4 links would lead to before clicking them

edgar13 (June 18, 2008)

Nothing ground breaking, but a good modern-hardcore record

jamespastepunk (June 18, 2008)

Brian wins five internets for the alliteration.

allon (June 18, 2008)

this record has really re-introduced me to this band. i love it.

onegirlarmy (June 17, 2008)

Yeah, ever since hearing this record, I've continually been blown away and have had no words. I still don't. Just wow.

blip (June 17, 2008)

Bridge 9 has suddenly gotten right up there with Deathwish for modern hardcore labels.

colin (June 17, 2008)

i'm not sure if this tops rebuild (seriously? i mean that record is nearly perfect), but it's miles above from anger and rage. the first time i heard "this is the story of... this is the story of... this is the story of a free man!" i got chills for the first time this year (with a hardcore release).

while this is great because it speaks up about issues, it's even better because it's not all related to the obvious dartboard of united states foreign policy. lamenting through social inequities and broader economic downfalls, verse have really come into their own with both song structure (not branching out beyond their grasp a la the last record) and songwriting (not relying on the general camo shorts earl plugs mentality of necessary singalongs).

certainly one of the year's top ten.

blanktapesemptybottles (June 17, 2008)

"passionately pleas poignant political protests so profusely" Jesus.

chrisafi (June 17, 2008)

Still think this vocalist is a poor man's de la Rocha. If he could pull of a proper growl/scream I think really be digging this album but....I don't know, just not quite right

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