November 26, 2014 The Veer Union – Divide The Blackened Sky (Deluxe Edition) (Album Review)
Started in 2004 by vocalist Crispin Earl and guitarist Eric Schraeder, Vancouver, BC’s The Veer Union have quickly gained momentum over the last ten years. The band has created a sound that seems to resonate with unprecedented passion and devotion. As clearly displayed by their social media, The Veer Union (also known as TVU) have cultivated a culture with their fans based on love, respect and perseverance. These same core values are evident in the music they make and the way it reaches the heart of the listener. With Schraeder and drummer Neil Beaton the last of the original line up to depart from the band in early 2013, Earl was the last man standing with The Veer Union. Unwilling to call it quits, Earl started a Kickerstarter campaign to put together an EP titled Life Support Part 1 released in December of 2013. Recollecting a new supporting cast to join Earl, The Veer Union line up now consists of guitarist Ryan Ramsdell, along with Edge of Seven vocalist, Amal Wijayanayake, on bass. Signing with Pavement Records back in the earlier part of 2014 the band celebrated their new home with the release of a deluxe edition of their 2012 studio album Divide the Blackened Sky. The new edition of Divide the Blackened Sky features three bonus tracks and a revamped version of “Borderline” featuring Art of Dying vocalist Jonny Hetherington.
Kicking things off is the new version of “Borderline” featuring Hetherington and it definitely packs a punch. Earl and Hetherington’s vocals are piercing and powerful. This track is like an anthem for anyone that’s ever been silenced or backed into a corner. The message is to act out and fight back against the things that would hold you down, to stand up against oppression and finding yourself on the line before the breaking point. “The Bitter End,” a personal favorite, follows the theme of “Borderline” and takes it to next level. This song is all about confronting the things that cloud your mind or hold you back within yourself and coming out the other side clean. “The enemy was living in my head. I ripped it out and left it there for dead.” Earl’s poignancy and passion ooze out from every note and every word, striking a chord with the listener’s inner worst critic. Up next is “I Will Remain” which just continues the trend of self-assurance and perseverance with its heavier percussion beat and slower, more somber pace.
Starting out slowly and building to crescendo is “Buried Into The Ground.” Earl’s echoic vocals carry this short shot in the arm and the guitar riffs light up the entire track. “Inside Our Scars” has a beautiful melody that walks the line between ballad and power track thanks to the little stringed nuances that dance on that line. The soaring vocals make this track that much better when paired with the final notes in acoustic that lead the song out. Title track “Divide The Blackened Sky” is a rush of electricity on the album with an almost Tool kind of resonance at times with a hard rock heartbeat at its core. This track pulses and races with different kind of fire than the rest of the album, and it sweeps you up and bounces you through the fiery sonic landscape. Bringing in a darker tone is “Silent Gun” with its decisive boldness and intricate string work courtesy of Schraeder and lead guitarist, James Fiddler. The drum work of Neal Beaton is not to be ignored on this track either; however, because it definitely has ample opportunity to shine here as well.
Of the bonus tracks on the album, “Safe and Sound” is a tumultuous emotional ode to the ones that support us in worst moments, who hold us and drag us out of the darkness. This uplifting tune has a sweet and almost whimsical quality to it as it rises and falls in accordance with the emotional journey portrayed in it. “The Antagonist” opens slowly to a percussion heavy rolling beat that bounces and pounds unlike the mostly spirited and lighter tracks on the rest of the album. Even Earl’s vocal delivery is more fierce and ignited on this track, from the lyrics to the dips into mildly gritty vocal dynamics. Finally, the third bonus on the album, “No Hope Until Now,” closes out the album on this edition and winds slowly like a maze, offering more vocal effects and interesting composition. The lyrical content touches on finding one’s own way out of a bad situation despite being left behind and finding your hope or will to go on. “Remember the day you left me to bleed?” The Veer Union creates a very sway –worthy track to go out on with the way the song builds and folds into itself, layering and rounding the vocals, guitars, and drums in swirling outro.
Overall, Divide The Blackened Sky (Deluxe Edition) is a beautiful, yet dark work that is rife with infectious tunes that easily implant themselves in the listener’s memory. For those coming into this album already familiar with The Veer Union, they will notice this album is darker than some of their previous work and carries heavier tones throughout, but it is not depressing or scathing. As a whole, it stands as testament to the perks of overcoming adversity and embarking on a journey of self-discovery. The Veer Union is presenting their journey on this album, and their catharsis is daring and empowering. CrypticRock gives Divide The Blackened Sky (Deluxe Edition) 4 out of 5 stars.