One look at the curriculum vitae of Versoma's members (the group included past and present members of Hot Cross, Transistor Transistor, Anodyne, LickGoldenSky, Orchid, Bucket Full of Teeth, Saetia and Wolves) and you'd be forgiven for immediately forming the preconception that this is some sort of screamo supergroup. Well, you're not entirely wrong, but this is not the kind of well-trodden emoviolence you might expect - Versoma's glorious racket is as informed by 90s indie-rock as it is grounded in the passionate catharsis of emo. The ghosts of My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth and Fugazi all lurk within these six tracks, something that is immediately obvious as the noisy tremolo guitars of opener 'Gods and Queens' hit your speakers. Most songs on this 18-minute EP blend the dark aggression and heart-on-sleeve nature of emo and hardcore with the melodic sensibilities and guitar styles of the aformentioned masters of indie and shoegaze, creating something unique and fascinating as bludgeoning riffs meet desperate vocals and shoegazing guitar wizardry. 'November 2004' is an obvious highlight: opening with a major-key plod reminiscent of Pelican, the song is propelled by its urgent drumming and superb vocal performance towards an emotional climax before dissolving in a wash of MBV-esque guitars. The following track '4.' serves mainly as a segue but is an interesting departure in its own right, sticking to more ambient sensibilities as sheets of noise and clean guitars are layered up with yearning yelps. The song this gives way to, 'Black Train', is the most obvious indication of the sound of members' previous projects, mostly sticking to dark hardcore riffage layered with subtle noise experimentation. The intro of closer 'Come In Alone' could almost be that of a My Bloody Valentine song (I wonder what brought that band to mind - maybe the impossibly blatant reference in the song title?) but the song morphs into a perfect crossover between hardcore punk and 1990s indie-rock that really sums up what Versoma is about.
I need to order this from the Robotic Empire webstore sharpish because, while not able to find the lyrics anywhere, I bet that if they're anywhere near as good as the music on this EP, this record is a keeper. It's just such a shame that this, along with the demos of this release that can be downloaded from Robotic Empire's rarities blog, represents the only material that Versoma ever recorded before their premature split. However, ex-members are currently making great music in projects such as Tombs and Gods and Queens, both of which follow similar ideas, so be sure to check those out if you enjoy Life During Wartime.
Versoma - Life During Wartime