2006 Equal Vision Records
01. Birthed By Architecture MP3
02. Smoke It To The Rope
03. Barracuda Capital Of The World
04. Great White Zombie
05. Life As A Criminal
06. The Sound Asleep
07. Out Of Context
08. Lets Get Alone
09. Boy Gets What He Wants
10. Fear Will Keep Them In Line
12. (I Am) The Master Of Gravity
Tuscon, Arizona "screamo" quintet Versus The Mirror are definitely poised to make a big splash with their debut album, Home. The band has worked very hard to set themselves apart from most of their peers by putting a lot of time and effort into the concept and recording of the album. The entire record is focused on the deeper meaning and emotions attached to the word "home" and the packaging and liner notes accent it beautifully. The recording possesses a warmth that has become uncharacteristic of the genre, thanks largely to its entirely analog recording and lack of computer fixes. If the band spent nearly as much time making sure their songs stood apart from one another as they did making sure they stood out as a band, this record might have been fantastic.
Versus The Mirror's core sound is much like that of contemporaries Underoath or The Bled, only with one key difference: There are absolutely NO clean singing parts. The fact that a band of this sort didn't intentionally commercialize either their sound or their songs displayed a surprising sincerity that grabbed my attention on the first listen. Unfortunately, the music itself didn't keep my attention once it had it. During each consecutive listen, I found myself more interested in the exquisitely designed booklet than the music itself. It did give me a good feel for the lyrics, which are altogether strong, if a bit inconsistent. Lines that might have really carried weight lost a lot of their power through repetition. Eventually, I would come back to the music itself and find that while most of the songs had their moments, thanks largely in part to the entirely clean guitar playing of Gabe Borquez, the songwriting didn't vary much from song to song. While their peers use of pop hooks to make the songs distinguishable might have been grating, Versus The Mirror just don't have any tricks in their repertoire that can compete with a catchy chorus.
Bottom Line: The thing about this record is that while most of the songs might sound fairly similar, Versus The Mirror play the style fairly well. Depending on one's mood, this could be decent background music for work or other activities, but for active listening, it just doesn't cut it. The guitar lines are too simple, the vocals too monotone and the songwriting is too formulaic. It's honestly a bit of a shame to me because I wanted to like this band an awful lot and I feel like they could really develop into something special. We'll just have to wait and see which direction they take it.