For their first album since 2012’s Divide the Blackened Sky The Veer Union have taken the unusual step of selecting a number of previously unreleased tracks, some written before the The Veer Union’s debut album and a selection of completely new tunes. This isn’t just The Veer Union and chief songwriter Crispin Earl lacking inspiration or releasing an album primarily as a filler or to make money but instead more of a history of the progression of the band and even more than that it is almost a diary of the struggles against depression that Crispin has suffered during these years.
In some ways I am reluctant to link the artistic merits of a band’s output to their mental health, only in as much as I don’t want to be sat saying this is so and so band’s most urgent and important work to date, more of this please; if to get there, members of that band were in some of their most desperate and darkest places. You don’t have to suffer to make the greatest art. However, The Veer Union and Decade in particular is not about that. This almost chronicles that journey, the ups and downs of living day to day with a mental illness. In many ways this a testament to the strength of the band that they continue to produce such high quality output. If an album such as this helps highlight and do that little bit more to destigmatise mental illness all the better and if others can find some comfort or seeing that there is hope against all the hopes even better still. Interestingly there are no notes as to when which songs were written when so I will leave that for you to work out yourselves. All of the tracks were written by Crispin and performed by the latest The Veer Union line-up.
So what you get is a rocking and incredibly passionate album, probably what you have come to expect from The Veer Union. What is apparent is that this album has a lot more energy, rage, and optimism in equal measures than previous albums. Opening track ‘Defying Gravity’ sets this stall out from the offset. I was pleasantly surprised with ‘Defying Gravity’ this is more metal than the more reflective side of The Veer Union we know and they do this very, very well. Right from the crunchy opening guitars, to the accompanying growling vocals accompanying the lead vocals. The chorus itself is huge, full of passion, almost angry and definitely rocks. Lyrically, it already starts to ask searching questions ‘I’ve been six feet underground, fighting to be found’. As an opening track it is the perfect choice, not only is there a lot happening in this track, great atmosphere, big chorus, good lead but it sets the tone for the whole album and enables you to evaluate what’s to come in this vein.
‘Watch You Lose’ has a gentler start but those crunching rhythm guitars are still there as are the big choruses. Slightly less full on than its predecessor but in a very similar vein. It’s a classic The Veer Union, emoesque rock song, it peaks and dips (as do many of their tracks), slowing down before picking the pace and aggression back up. Again the chorus is catchy, ‘Watch You lose’ and its one of those songs that could quickly become addictive
When ‘You Can’t Have It All’ begins with a gentle guitar, followed by loud intro and then drops into very passionate vocals you know we are back into familiar territory. This type of song, balladesque but rockier is something that The Veer Union do very well. I want to say almost emo, yes it is emotional but there is a very real side to The Veer Union that steers me away from that label. It’s almost as if they are not playing up to creating a certain type of sound they almost cannot help themselves, this is at times heart-on-the-sleeve stuff ‘No one knows what tomorrow might just bring’ ‘I am still here for now’.
‘I Said’ introduces a change of pace to the album and is an interesting little song that is worth a mention. Yes, it changes pace but it isn’t a ballad, it’s more a minimalistic piece that offers an interesting other perspective to the The Veer Union. The vocals are as passionate as ever but this time it is the music that really captured my attention, it is almost industrial in its delivery but more 70’s style than the 90’s Nine Inch Nails full on industrial. The music is quiet and understated, with an almost metallic beat in the background, the vocals at times eerie.
‘We All Will’ is another highlight of the album and an example of why The Veer Union are so popular, they seem almost incapable of writing anything but big tunes. The ‘We All Will’ chants opening this song with a decent guitar solo accompanying in the background will instantly get your attention. It’s a positive message too, @We All Will Rise from the Floor’ Again there is that little extra edge of metal to the song that penetrates this album. One thing I like about Decade is that although it gives you an insight to Crispins mind over the last 10 years there is so much positivity throughout the album. He refuses to be knocked down or held down by his own personal demons
For an album review its hard to know where to draw the line of how much detail to go into as there really isn’t a bad song on the album. There is a trio of tracks towards the end of the album ‘I Don’t Care’, ‘The Unwanted’ and ‘Heart Attack’, all equally as good as each other, all with a big chorus, sincere verses, great musical performances. It’s hard to choose between, each induvial, each The Veer Union. It is not until final track of the album, ‘Underrated’ that we get treated to on one of The Veer Unions more slow style ballads and this is epic, it has all the elements you have come to love, the dynamics that The Veer Union does so well, sincerity and big choruses. It leaves you on a high note too as they talk ‘About creating new life from the Ashes’.
Some albums, when presented with a pile of albums to choose from grab your attention because musically they have a certain something or they have a great cover, maybe you are familiar with the band or occasionally like with The Veer Union they have a great back story. I was intrigued to hear more and delve into the psyche of Decade. It was very apparent from the first listen that this was a band which can write big tunes but there is so much more to The Veer Union and this is why they have such a wide appeal. Lyrically Crispin has something to say and it is a common story that many can relate to but in spite or despite this Decade holds a very positive message, of triumph over adversity, that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Decade also helps bring this debate back to the surface. The fact that it can do that is a gift in itself the fact that it is also 10 songs that you are going to love makes it a must for 2016.