Night Verses - “Into the Vanishing Light”
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Night Verses turned heads with their aptly-titled EP Out of the Sky and built hype on the back of their full-length Lift Your Existence, a pretty thorough tour of the band’s synthesis of Norma Jean-ish hardcore and Deftones-y alternative rock. Their popularity is well-deserved - they’re an ambitious band and each member has surprising skill to spare - but Lift Your Existence still feels needlessly bloated at fifteen tracks, its reach sometimes exceeding its grasp on cuts like the would-be epic closer and its sometimes on-the-nose incorporation of their influences. Expectations were pretty high going into their sophomore full-length nevertheless, and the band egged them on, their heads slowly but surely edging towards their asses as they began incorporating nu-goth iconography into their image. Take in the Lady Gaga-ism on the album cover and titles like “Connecting Hexes,” and “Vantablack” (not the last time we’ll see that word on the tracklist for a metal record this year) for evidence.
Its bled its way into the music, too, but I’m surprised to say it’s not for the worst. I was discussing the album with fellow Metal Lifestyle reviewer Alex Brown before I had actually sat down for a proper listen (probably not a great idea in hindsight to do so), and his view on the album may have colored my own as I dove in, but I think there’s some merit to his verdict: “A hardcore version of The Cure” was it, more or less, although I didn’t really hear it until “Vantablack,” which is, in fact, the most Cure-sounding thing I’ve heard in the context of a rock/metal record since Gore earlier this year. After that, and with further listens, it’s clear the band must have been listening to Disintegration throughout the recording process or at least had it in mind, because their musical sensibilities are all over Into the Vanishing Light - but, again, I can’t really call that a drawback. Douglas Robinson’s warm quaver is better suited to these morose tones than to the brighter melodies of Lift Your Existence, allowing him to really explore the textures of his voice, and the rest of the band has dialed down the post-hardcore-isms of the previous full-length for a palette of thicker, looser sounds. Abstract chords and pedal effects are more frequent, more adventurous, and the record brings to mind a refinement of Hopesfall’s Magnetic North on the whole. Sometimes it even seems to take cues from Glassjaw’s Coloring Book, with “Strange Graves” in particular faintly resembling “Stations of the New Cross.” For any band to sound like post-Silence Glassjaw, especially one as young as Night Verses, should be a point of pride.
Each track presents another shade of this gothier alternative direction Night Verses is currently headed. I think openers and closers are important as first and last impressions, so for a taste of everything the album has to offer (or for examples of the strides Night Verses have made since Lift Your Existence), “The Future As History: I Love You Dead” and “Phoenix III: Into the Vanishing Light” are excellent places to start and end. Both tracks balance rumbling low ends, busy kitwork, and fuzzy riffs under a confident production job from the “godfather of nu-metal” himself, Ross Robinson. Elsewhere, “Vantablack” and “Blue Shades of the Sun” are Into the Vanishing Light at its most subdued and its most angular, respectively, breaking ground Night Verses haven’t really tread before. All in all, Into the Vanishing Light does exactly what a sophomore record should do: beat out the last album and set up for the future.