Dead Hearts

Bitter Verses

Written by: PP on 03/12/2006 20:23:45

More bands should aspire to be like Dead Hearts. The passion, the honesty, the lack of useless gimmicks, it's all there. Their debut album "Bitter Verses" is a simple album on the surface, but by studying it closely incredible depth can be found. It is a concept album telling the story of a character with insomnia, describing the pain he goes through every night while unable to sleep, which everyone who has ever spent parts of their night worrying themselves sick can surely relate to more or less.

"I. Somnium" opens the album with distant, barely audible screams of "These are the restless nights" by the insomniac man, played by vocalist Derek Dole, before that exact line materializes on "II. Dusk", where Derek screams it in endless repetition, as if to make an allusion to how the character is never able to fall asleep. This is all supported by vintage 80s hardcore riffage with some modern touch to it, the screams are severe and unrelenting but you don't need the lyrics sheet to make out what Derek's screaming about. The theme "The endless nights" repeats itself throughout the majority of the album, stressing the pain the character goes through by lying wide awake, unable to sleep, having to think through his past where something has gone terribly wrong. If "Bitter Verses" was a book and I was writing a literary analysis, I would immediately jump on my toes here and wonder "what on earth happened to cause this terrible state upon this poor man", but this is never revealed during the album. All we are given is hints, as on "III. Fall", where the character is 'left with emptyness and faded memories of better days long dead'. Obviously something terrible happened long time ago, and our poor character is still grasped by his past, which can be interpreted as the reason why all of his lines are delivered with remorseless screaming, many with a slowed down tempo as on "IV. Innocence", as if to underline his suffering.

But the character experiences moments of peace and clarity during the night as well, as the fully instrumental, beautiful "V. Exsomnis" and "X. Maeror" show. Both tracks are short, and my interpretation of this is that the guy finally caught a few moments of sleep, before waking up again unable to sleep further, still haunted by the events in the past.

The blurred lead guitar brings a perfect atmosphere to the otherwise chaotic rock n roll meets metal delivery of power chord-based distortion, immediately bringing bands like Shai Hulud onto mind, but specifically on "VI. Hope" where melody meets pace and hardcore sublimely. Think Bad Religion or NOFX with hardcore screaming and you're not far off from, for instance, "XIV. Dawn" where the character finally sees the end of his living nightmare. The screams of 'And I want to close my eyes!!' are both touching and miserable at the same time. The finishing line 'This is our dawn; this is for the love we've all lost' is slowly screamed one word at a time, supported by gang shouts stressing the importance of these words, and leads me to think "hmm, maybe he lost his wife". Ultimately, only the band knows this for sure, but with the recurring line 'I know we are the lonely ones', I'd almost be ready to bet on it. I'd love to go into further detail in analyzing the different aspects of the story, the variations in tempo and atmosphere in the diverse songs on the album, and how these all relate together, but the experience is at its best when you discover these yourself, word by word at a time. It's a puzzle waiting to be solved.

Overall, "Bitter Verses" is one of the finest concept albums of the past few years, and doesn't fail musically either. Bad Brains, NOFX, Boys Night Out, Bad Religion, Shai Hulud, Sick Of It All.. listening to the album is like a trip down the memory lane again, where hints of all these great hardcore and punk bands are heard song after song. Considering this is only their debut, I'm drooling over the next album already, but this won't stop 'spinning' in my iPod for a while.


Download: VI. Hope, II. Dusk, III. Fall
For the fans of: Bad Brains, NOFX, Boys Night Out, Shai Hulud, Bad Religion
Listen: Myspace

Release date 04.09.2006
Provided by Target ApS

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