When a band loses a vocalist, there are times where it signals the end of that band. For better or worse, it’s over. Other times, they will find a new vocalist either within or outside of the group and soldier on, sometimes under the same name or a different moniker entirely. Then there’s the third option, which is arguably the most interesting of the three, in which the band decides they don’t need a vocalist. They believe their music has the ability to speak to the listener without words. When Tilian Pearson left Tides of Man, the post-hardcore outfit decided to take the third route and became a post-rock band, shattering expectations in doing so with their crowdfunded “debut” album Young & Courageous. Post-hardcore/progressive rock band Night Verses, after losing their vocalist Douglas Robinson, were faced with a similar choice. They too decided to become an instrumental group and test their musical mettle. After releasing a well-received three-song EP at the beginning of this year we now have From the Gallery of Sleep, a full album of their instrumental material (with the three songs from the EP included) to see if their decision holds up in the long form.
Where Tides of Man leaned heavily into the crescendo-core nature of post-rock, Night Verses embrace the heavier sides of progressive and post-metal to form their sound. The atmospheric nature of post-rock is an ever-present element, but there are more times than not where the record reflects a technically minded progressive metal band like Animals as Leaders. There are even times where the band wades into territory that’s a tad more sludge-y/murky in the low-end, ala post-metal veterans Pelican. Regardless of which end of the metal spectrum Night Verses dip their wick, the results are enthralling and impressive.
When Night Verses want to enrapture you with atmosphere, they might motion you closer with soft, vibraphone-esque keyboards, echoing clean-guitars and tug on your heartstrings with a vocal sample of a woman asking the listener “Who are you?” such as on the interlude, “Glitch in the You I Thought I Knew” or the gorgeous closer “Infinity Beach” If they want to enthrall and show that they can display both flash and substance, they’ll go for the gusto and work in more technical guitar work in and/or blast you with force when you might be least expecting it, this attribute is best displayed on the track “Vice Wave”. When they combine the two moods, such as on tracks like “No Moon”, “Earthless”, and the nearly ten-minute behemoth “Phoenix IV: Levitation” you get results that, funnily enough considering the situation, leave you speechless.
Vocals were not holding Night Verses back from being a great group by any means. However, vocals were holding them back from embodying a different form of greatness. The territories in which the group pushed into on From the Gallery of Sleep may have been present on previous works, but now the landscapes of those territories are all that’s left for us. Without a voice to guide us, the traveler on the musical journey, we can appreciate the landscape for what it is and not how it is presented to us. Without a word, we are swept away into lands beautiful, aggressive and altogether strange.