VERSE: Bitter Clarity, Uncommon Grace: CD

From the very beginning of their existence, Verse has been a band to push the boundaries of what is modern hardcore, forging a distinct and recognizable sound unlike anything else out there. Their first two albums, 2004’s Rebuild, and 2006’s From Anger and Rage have special places in my heart not only for personal reasons, but because they are two of the finest hardcore records of all time. With Bitter Clarity, Uncommon Grace, Verse returns with their first album since reuniting and unleash one of their finest records to date. The sound that the band developed on their first two records—and refined on 2008’s Aggression, their third LP—reaches its finest expression on this recording. The raw, searing riffs and brooding melodic riffs for which Verse is known are all here in abundance, with an increased level of guitar wankery and technicality thrown in the mix, as in the track “The Relevance of Our Disconnect,” one of my favorites on the album. It’s impossible to discuss a Verse album without talking about the lyrics. Vocalist Sean Murphy is one of my favorite lyricists, for his deeply personal and fiery political lyrics. The two are bound together tightly on almost every song on Bitter Clarity. My favorites include the previously mentioned “The Relevance of Our Disconnect,” from which the name of the album is derived, “Finding a Way out When There Is No Way,” and “The Silver Spoon and The Empty Plate.” The last of these finds Murphy at his most direct, in terms of political expression with the chorus “Police are pigs, [and all] justice is blind / greedy men in suits only serve to divide,” words to which I think everyone reading this can scream along. While critics might be down on the band for breaking up and reuniting, questioning the legitimacy of their current run, let me annihilate all of them right now. Bitter Clarity, Uncommon Grace is the real deal, a defining statement from a band that still has a lot to say, and a record we’re all sure to be listening to and discussing for years to come.

 –Paul J. Comeau (Bridge 9)