One of the best surprises when checking out the internal review list was the listing of Night Verses for a second time this year, now with a full album called From The Gallery Of Sleep,landing at the end of June. The trio delivered the Copper Wasp EP in early 2018, and in the shadows brewed a full-length to drop onto our ears. From The Gallery Of Sleep is rather good, as It Djents editor David and myself realised soon after receiving the album…
So I kind of forgot that Night Verses dropped a preview EP for this album at the beginning of the year. Even worse, I forgot I listened to it and liked it! When I eventually remembered, it explained why three of the tracks were oddly familiar, but I digress. These are the first tracks the band has produced without a vocalist, and after listening to From the Gallery of Sleep, I can’t say that it was a bad move. Quite the contrary. They have proven to be an artistic chameleon, shifting from a blistering post-hardcore act with vocals to instrumental progressive metal. The energy from their past lends itself well to this new direction, as they’ve always had an eclectic and unconventional take on the genre. Here, it manifests in greatness they simply couldn’t achieve shackled to the tropes of more traditional heavy music.
The hook of this album is utilizing a full, action-packed spectrum of sound. Listening to From the Gallery of Sleep is a lot like listening to a rainbow. The fiery energy of “Copper Wasp” and “Trading Shadows” shines shades of red; violet and blue capture the ethereal calm of tracks like “Lira” and “Glitch In The You I Thought I Knew”; and the bass-heavy tones of “No.0” provoke an earthy orange to come to mind. So many different tones, tempos, and textures here! This is a full-featured, heady album.
Personally, I’m reminded of my early days of listening to guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani. Night Verses may not have much in common with Satch stylistically, but they both scratch the same itch of performative, emotive music as a language. After all, when you only got instruments to work with, you better make them sing. Multilayering, tonal shifts, and rowdy leads all make the guitars the unequivocal focus of this album. Even still, the bass proves to be particularly strong and very prominent throughout. It sustains low, vibrating hums that feel like massagers on your ears. The intro of “Trading Shadows” is probably the quickest example of this: the bass’ descending harmony with the guitars is sweetly executed. “Vantablonde” lets the bass find its own groove as well.
Night Verses even take some time to continue their now three-album deep suite of “Phoenix” tracks, this one titled “Phoenix IV: Levitation”. The guitars whine and yelp, dipping in and out of winding stupors; the drums imitate jackhammers, slamming down complex rhythms to keep the show going. It’s one of the best songs on the album. After that, album closer “Infinity Beach” offers a more conventional approach to guitar-focused instrumental music. I can’t decide if it was genius or a missed opportunity to end an album like this with such a comparatively tame track, but either way it’s a solid enough end.
This is one of the busiest, flashiest, and most multifaceted monsters of an instrumental album I’ve heard in recent years. It’s not overly complicated and doesn’t wave technique in your face in an effort to goad or display profound skillful conceit. Nope, it’s just a great album by great musicians who felt like turning right when the road leaned left, and discovered a wealth of untapped expressive potential along the way. Even in all the chaos, it hardly ever loses focus. I hope Night Verses continue to usher in a new era of instrumental innovation and refinement for years to come.
Personal score: 9.5/10
Let us just get one thing straight: instrumental progressive metal released in the last 2-3 years has been mediocre at best and stick-knives-in-your-ears bad at worst. Animals As Leaders became a dull shitshow of self-obsession, bands like Arch Echo added some whacky synths to theirs and were proclaimed ‘so original’, and the rest dropped into a melting pot of rip-off Plini with added sprinkles of CHONed Polyphia. Bleh.
Thank fuck Night Verses have come to the party to tip all of those shitty albums into an oil drum before tossing a half-smoked blunt in! After my first spin of From The Gallery Of Sleep, I was mind blown; during what is more than likely my 30th, I feel nothing but pure joy and satisfaction embarking on another run-through of what will be a top 10 album of 2018 for me. Now before I continue, I must admit that I only met Night Verses when they dropped their first instrumental teaser. I also managed to somehow, through lack of time and care, spin their older records with vocals on. And y’know what? I don’t even want to go back, because I’m worried it won’t come close to this unbridled wall of sound.
We know the three songs that they dropped in the Copper Wasp EP, but not until they are followed by the other powerful album tracks do you gain such an appreciation for them. “Copper Wasp” itself has a gorgeous atmospheric part after the frenetic start, and two tracks after, “Vice Wave” manages to mix industrial, synth, and delectably overtuned guitars into a melting pot of groove. But I really found the track that separates them, “Trading Shadows”, to be of the highest standard. It has an unbelievable atmosphere, stunning basslines that hold the winding delayed guitars at bay, and a perfect amount of glitch to satisfy me.
The electronics work on this album is something to be marvelled at. Not a single sample, glitch, wobble or thud feels wrong. The guitars move from electronica over progressive metal to post-rock, the effects actually sounding progressive, fresh and exciting. The delay is great, the bite of the overtuned guitars also brilliant. All the while the drums supplied by Aric Improta smash and crash away, the double kicks and cymbal work more than impressive. The deeper into the album you get, the further down the rabbit hole you go, with some of the riffs being mesmerising to a point where I find myself two songs further along the album but yet on the same sentence. I feel this is partly down to the excellent mix as well; through either headphones or speakers this album has bite, but plenty of range to explore.
Interludes like “Glitch In The You I Thought I Knew” and “Harmonic Sleep Engine” could be classed as full songs, but I find they bridge the gap between songs perfectly, offering kind subtle tones or twisted samples and experimental ambience before the next track roars or glides in. The latter of the interludes mentioned gives way to the heaviest track on the album, “Pheonix IV: Leviathan”. This frenetic mess takes twists and turns that make mathcore bands look like chumps! It is a chaotic ten-minute piledriver of a song, with an awesome set of riffs that bring you back to earth with some melancholic sections, before launching you to mars on a trebuchet. Bravo Night Verses, you’ve done something special with this record, reinvigorating sounds I thought should’ve retired long ago.
Personal score: 10/10
Combined score: 9.5/10
Notable Tracks: “Phoenix IV: Leviathan”; “Vantablond”; “Trading Shadows”
FFO: Original progressive metal, good times, groove