5ive - Versus (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Versus (2006)


Another unconventional release by Tortuga Records...one would start to think that's the sort of thing that the label specializes in. Sarcasm aside, what we have here is another release that's far outside the realm of normal conventions in Versus. While not entirely outlandish, the combination of only guitar and drums with the absence of vocals is one that requires an intense level of cohesion between the two bandmates so as not to bore listeners to death.

Well, they succeed and they don't. There's four tracks on the album, but basically only two songs. I know that sounds dumb, and in some ways it is, but in others you can somewhat see the scope of what this duo was really going for. One of the two songs, "Reso-1" is a nine-minute mix of reserved instrumentation and some drone and dissonance. Traveling through quite a few stages, they bounce back and forth between an imposing wall of sound and a quickly moving rhythm accented well by the clean guitars and pounding drums. And it's really only all they have -- rhythm, that is. With two band members, that has to be the glue that holds it all together. Whether loud, soft, or in transition, that is the element that is worked with to a flawless result on the album.

So, that song is great, but how about the other one? Actually only one song, with a recorded remix (split into 'Stage 1' and 'Stage 2'), "Soma" is less impressive than its counterpart. A much heavier and sludgier track, not to mention a few minutes shorter, "Soma" obliterates all in its path with crushing power that neither man even attempts to harness. With a definite affinity for the crash cymbal and deafening distortion, 5ive cascade through the seven-minute duration without any sort of slowdown. The problem with this song isn't the song itself, but the subsequent remixes, the first of which starts off the album, and at less than two minutes, the brooding, eerie track doesn't really fit the mood of the rest of the album, especially considering the feel and flow of "Reso-1." The second remix is the album closer, and again, it simply doesn't fit the middle two tracks. Either of them. It carries the same eerie feeling as the album opener, but is four times as long. That would be fine, but it's just not an engaging or interesting song no matter which way you look at it, and thus the power and the rhythm established in the song before it is completely done away with.

This album could easily have just been an EP, and it would have fared quite a bit better. The remixes kill the flow and feeling of an album that had quite a bit of potential, especially when taking into account the minimal resources the two bandmates were working with. Tortuga has has a habit of either hitting it out of the park completely, or going down swinging and unfortunately, this one doesn't leave the infield.