Night Verses is an entity draped in mystery. Hardly a year ago, they delivered one of the best new pieces of music of 2012 as collective artists who simply came out of nowhere, as indicated by their EP name, Out of the Sky. Abrasive, engaging and brief, it sparked a hunger for authentic post-hardcore that meshes the best aspects of those who are held as keystones to the genre. And yet we only know what they’ve given us. Their persona, haunted and omniscient, heightened by the limited yet powerful work they’ve done, contributes to their appeal. Once again, Night Verses, being the proficient songwriters they are, have quickly recorded and revealed a monstrous 15-track album, with a run-time that exceeds 70 minutes. It is my privilege to say that it is a worthy successor.
Night Verses prove with Lift Your Existence that they are among a rare breed of bands that does not create one solid release and taper off, nor are they the type that needs “strengthening.” With this album, Night Verses do not ‘hone in’ on their sound, which is typically a successful way of creating a secondary release. Out of the Sky proved there was no need, and to that end, they have broadened their sound while utilizing each member to their full, respective capacities. “Introducing: The Rot Under the Sun” is a brilliant summation of everything listeners enjoyed from Out of the Sky, readying you for the increased aggression and versatility that will follow. “Rage” produces a raging movement that fluctuates with complex rhythmic elements, the ever-impressive Aric Improta flexing his notorious drumming while Reilly Herrera provides the undulating, crisp bass lines that underscore irregular patterns and odd-metered structures, harmonizing near-perfectly with all the other instrumentation and forming a motif through all 15 tracks. As one of the quickest, most pugnacious tracks on the album, it’s sure to stand out as a fan favorite and primary single.
Throughout Lift Your Existence, each performance stays consistent and effective, rarely faltering and never failing to display the talent of each member. Much can be said of vocalist Doug Robinson as time and time again he belts out heart-wrenching screams with a formerly untapped aggression, intertwined with complex and gritty melodies that evoke a full sense of power. Guitar highlights come in the form of “Time Erases Time (Strung Out),” “Whatever Makes You Hate Me,” “Yours,” and the grand finale, “Phoenix: I. Rising II. Falling,” as Nick DePirro riffs heavily and solos relentlessly, impressing iconic and lasting melodies into the minds of listeners which will undoubtedly resonate for a time to come.
Decisively, Lift Your Existence features the strongest deliveries that the post-hardcore scene has witnessed in quite some time. Amidst its complexities, though, there are a few points of unsuccessful, inharmonious moments that feel tacked on as opposed to fully orchestrated. Existence’s biggest fault, however, surprisingly lies in its length. As stated earlier, the album breaks the hour mark pretty well. Normally, this would be a listener’s dream as a stale habit of 30-minute-or-less run-times has been forming steadily. Yet, there’s a looming sense of tonal monotony that becomes overwhelming, making it hard to individualize a single selection. What do I mean by that? Consistency is an appreciable quality in an album, a flavor that builds a reliance and a comfortableness with what the rest of that album will sound like. It forms expectations, and we as listeners love having our expectations met. It’s natural. But consistency can be tiring, and Lift Your Existence may become just that. And in that way it detracts from the brevity and mystery that Out of the Sky manifested and established. In short, Lift Your Existence has too much on its plate.
To illustrate: I am a meat lover. Particularly a steak lover. Those “eat this monster steak in under an hour and it’s free” beasts? I’ve undertaken and lost two such challenges. Both were incredible, and maybe even some of the best flavored steaks I’ve ever had, but both were simply too much for one person to handle in one sitting. Lift Your Existence is one of those steaks. It has every quality that I’m looking for in a post-hardcore record, masterfully blending structures and compositions that spice and enrich the listening experience. But for some, like me, it may be a bit much to chew and digest all at once and in that regard Night Verses may have overexposed themselves. In this way, the album suffers. And yet, as big of a drawback as these past few paragraphs have made it seem, it is not.
The fact of the matter is, Lift Your Existence is a phenomenal record, providing an abnormally extensive array of formidable instrumentation and heartfelt deliveries. Difficult to process at times? Sure. But that doesn’t make what’s present any less remarkable than it is. Expect it to make your year-end list. Expect it to become one of the most important albums to come out of the post-hardcore scene in recent years. Expect Lift Your Existence to be what marks Night Verses’ transcendence from the unknown to the heralded.
Lift Your Existence is to be released June 25, 2013 via Easy-Killer Records.
Recommended If You Like: Tool‘s Lateralus , Deftones‘ Around the Fur and White Pony, Out of the Sky EP