It’s the keyboard melodies that had me coming back for yet another listen. I must admit, I’m a bit of a prog fan and to my ears the synthesizer can do little wrong. To be clear, In The Verse are not prog rock. They’re a hard rock band out of Wisconsin, U.S.A, started in 2013. “Transformer” is their debut release, from 2016.
Why should you pay attention to this album in 2018? Honest lyrics, for one. Noah Hulbert sings in “Alone”: You look inside my cold, hardened heart / At the things I hide that are tearing me apart”. When he appeals to God, he drops his brave face, encouraging me (the listener) to do the same. Inside, the light and dark are vying for supremacy – a fight that has me weary. God delivers victory in battle, and I am welcomed home.
While the growls and grunts of extreme metal certainly appeal, I sometimes need the clear sung lyrics I hear on this album. I was watching Jason Mantzoukas talk about his record picks at the Amoeba store earlier, where he said he’s drawn more often to the expressive qualities of the voice than to what is being sung; often not even noticing the words. On the “Transformer” album, disillusionment makes way for hope, and I wouldn’t have been able to follow this trajectory if lyrics were unclear.