Vera Grace

Novella EP

Written by: PP on 03/01/2016 21:21:43

Hailing from Oxfordshire, UK, Vera Grace are a metalcore quintet that don't exactly sound like your ordinary dime-a-dozen troupe that tends to give the genre a bad name these days. Instead, their approach has been to combine a multitude of different -core styles into one unpredictable concoction of heavy music, which is characterized as much by its extraordinary composition as much as its tendency to chaotically tear apart its soundscapes in one go on new EP "Novella". As the title might suggest, it is a conceptual EP built into the form of a short story with two separate chapters dealing with some rather morbid topics, and while that's interesting, the key part to take away from it is its seamless mixture of everything from progressive hardcore to post-metal and post-hardcore, even melodic hardcore in places, while staying firmly rooted in the metalcore genre as a whole.

How is this achieved in practice? Step one, the band are purposefully utilizing a creepingly slow tempo to their songs, which allows their high-end guitar melodies to float loftily in the soundscape in beautiful contrast to the crushing walls of mid-range distortion provided by the rhythm guitar section. See opener "Exposition" for a prime example. The screams of Stephen Nulty, too, are far more deliberate than what most of the genre offers these days, echoing the origins of post-hardcore and screamo popularity from the early 2000s. Here, comparisons to 36 Crazyfists, Dead Hearts, or even Norma Jean / Botch can be drawn for good measure. Together, these elements give their expression an avant-garde feel when it comes to metalcore, sort of how Fear Before The March Of Flames liberally applied their creativity into screamo throughout their career, which included a similarly intriguing usage of cacophonic screamo sections with progressive soundscapes. Here, Vera Grace often rely on ambitious--grandiose even--composition, where elements of post-metal blend seamlessly into the metalcore and progressive hardcore mold. "Scene 1 - Griever" and "Scene II - Catharsis" are perfect examples of the latter, where tinkling high-pitch tremolo guitars battle against lingering melodic hardcore melodies, all in a deliberately slowed down and thoughtful pace.

Still, "Novella" EP might be too ambitious for its own good. Offering no immediate rewards to a new listener given its relative complexity compositionally, it's probably out of reach for the majority of mainstream metalcore listeners. It's a fresh, original release in the genre, which shoves it into the nichés of listeners where you'll find people like yours truly and other music critics looking for records just like this one. If anything, "Novella" is a fine EP that suggests Vera Grace should be on most 2016 bands to look out for lists.

Download: Scene I - Griever, Scene II - Catharsis, 12_04
For the fans of: Feed The Rhino, 36 Crazyfists, Dead Hearts, Elitist, Norma Jean
Listen: Facebook

Release date 17.08.2015

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