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Verse Vica – Endeavour | Album Review

Verse Vica release their sprawling and epic debut album next month. Check out what we thought of it here.

Credit: Album Cover

Endeavour is the debut album from Asheville, North Carolina’s Verse Vica. Its eight tracks flow together to become one forty minute epic, but it can be enjoyed just as well if you want to listen to individual songs – just look at how well received the track ‘Ravenholm’ was when it appeared online earlier this month. Rightly so, too, it’s a six minute ode to Half-Life 2, replete with blast beats, technical instrumental sections and a Spanish guitar solo. As off the wall as that may sound, it all ties together into a pretty neat progressive metal package.

The album opens with ‘Airyth’, an instrumental straight out of the post-rock songbook, with clean, echoing guitars punctuated by bass drum hits, a slow, but effective build which blends seamlessly into the second track ‘Cities I: Cerulean’ (apparently carrying on the video game theme with a Pokémon reference. In fact, Google tells me several of the song titles here are based around video games.)

Verse Vica don’t currently have a drummer, so what you hear on the album are samples programmed on a computer. It’s not ideal, you can never replace the human element of real drums, but so many metal acts use drum samples and tempo correction anyway that it doesn’t sound much worse than a lot of their contemporaries. It all contributes to a few problems with the mix, though. The quiet parts sound fine, but when it gets heavy, there are no dynamics at all. It doesn’t so much burst out of your speakers as it feels squashed and contained by them. Again, it’s not a problem that’s unique to Verse Vica, but it’s the kind of thing that quickly makes a blast beat sound like a headache.

Apparently the band are planning on releasing an instrumental version of the album as well, and it would be an interesting listen. Sometimes, the clean vocals here sound a little too wet, and the screams are throaty and guttural, like someone whispering a little too close to the microphone. The band would do well in most tracks to give the music a little more space and their voices a rest.

Still, despite these problems, Endeavour is a strong debut, with some well crafted and developed tunes. There’s clearly been a great deal of care and attention put into making it work as a complete package, and anyone who’s into progressive metal and still appreciates a well put together album should check it out. Let’s just hope that they start working with a drummer and a better producer soon.

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