Release Date: March 27, 2012
Canadian rockers The Veer Union are back on the music scene again with Divide the Blackened Sky. Divide is a follow-up to their first major label release Against the Grain which topped the charts back in 2009 and had three highly received singles including the top 10 hit “Seasons.”
Recorded in British Columbia the majority of Divide the Blackened Sky was self-produced by the band, except for the first single, “Bitter End,” which was helmed by producer Brian Howes (Nickelback, Hinder, Skillet, Puddle Of Mudd, Rev Theory), and was mixed by Jay Van Poederooyen. The CD hit the shelves on March 26th and it is the first release on Veer’s new label Rocket Science Ventures.
The Veer Union has gone through some changes since we last heard from them. In that time they have been dropped by their previous label Universal/Motown and if that wasn’t enough on February 23, 2012, less than a month before their album release date, it was announced on the band’s Facebook page that two members James Fiddler (guitar, vocals) and Marc Roots (bass) had left the band:
… “To Clarify, Neil is still with us, Roots and Fid have moved on to different careers but we remain close friends and everyone wishes them all the best! We are excited to announce the new lineup world wide and will see you all on tour very soon!” . . .
Fid and Roots brought a great energy to the band dynamic and I will be interested to see who their replacements will be. Remaining are the two founding members Crispin Earl (lead vocals) and Eric Schraeder (guitar, vocals) along with Neil Beaton (drums).
I have previously described Veer’s sound as Sevendust meets Dark New Day with a side of Three Days Grace. So if you are a fan of any of these three bands, you will appreciate The Veer Union. Crispin Earl has the superb harshness of Sevendust’s Lajon Witherspoon mixed with the melodic skill of Adam Gontier of Three Days Grace. I am a huge fan of these bands, so consider this comparison a great compliment to the sound of Veer.
Right out of the gate, thirty seconds into Track 1 “Borderline” I knew one thing for sure, The Veer Union’s sound has changed and in my opinion moved in a good direction. “Borderline” kicks down the door and reintroduces you to Veer and their new musical depth.
“Bitter End” is the band’s first single and a perfect representation of where Veer is now and how they have grown. I have no criticisms whatsoever this song is great from start to finish. It gives you the feeling of pushing against adversity and fighting with everything you have to get yourself through. The band has already filmed a video for the single, but no release date has been announced. They have however put together a lyric video to tide us over until the official video is available.
The track, “I Will Remain” is a musically beautiful song with lyrics about being pushed down and held down, but never submitting to defeat. “But I will remain. I’ve come undone, now you’ve won. I feel my life crashing down onto me. The sun is gone, shadows on. You think my world, you will take it from me, but I’ll start again.” Three simple words, I will remain, just three simple words, but yet so very strong. You can be beat down, but once you are there you have too either stay down or stand back up in defiance.
Next up, “Buried in the Ground” has as a slightly eerie feeling going from slow to fast then back again with great harmonies and engaging, thoughtful lyrics. The CD then moves seamlessly into “Inside Our Scars”, a song that articulates the sense of being in a situation where trust was lost and you are trying to move forward with sincere intentions, but you’re still stuck in the pain, inside those scars of the past. “Inside Our Scars” is, simply put, a moving, emotional song.
“Live Another Day” pulls you out of the emotional cyclone and out of those scars. It lifts you on your feet and relays to the listener, that even if you are broken, you can emerge from the mire to live another day. By the time you get to Track 7, which happens to be the title track, “Divide the Blackened Sky,” you are well aware that this album is about determination and not giving up; that even if others have lost faith and belief in you, you know where you are going and where you belong.
“Silent Gun,” is yet another strong song that leads you right into Track 9 “Last Days of Life.” This song starts off with a gruff, dirty vibe and just when you think you are going to a salacious place, the song takes a turn and it goes in a completely different direction. That is what happens when you make song assumptions, but seriously I really like this song and I love the gruff feeling of it.
The final song on the album is “Stolen.” I would say if I had to pick one song, this would be my least favorite track. Don’t misunderstand me, it is a good song, but there is something that doesn’t resonate for me. I will say that is may be more of a personal preference/opinion, but I would have arranged a few sections of the vocal harmonies differently. To me, the tone is off slightly and that throws off my enjoyment of the harmonizing. But again, that is just a personal opinion.
Overall, Divide the Blackened Sky is impressive and has an abundance of great songs. I only have two small complaints with this CD, 1) the harmonizing on “Stolen” and 2) it seemed, at least to me, there were a couple of songs that tried a little too hard to keep the verses rhyming. But other than those minor critiques, this CD improves upon the The Veer Union‘s debut album, which is what all band’s aim for.
The reality of being in the music business is, it can be difficult and you have to be hard-working, relentless, thick-skinned and be willing to make a lot of sacrifices with no guarantee of a return. Veer has experienced some difficult times, but out of all the turmoil they have endured since their last album, something good has come out of it, their musical progression. You hear their determination, persistence and hunger to succeed in every note of music. Veer’s sound is definitely much darker, edgier and heavier. I like that the music has more grit and appreciate those lower tones, their sound has an infectious groove but you also hear a sense of maturity. The Veer Union has been knocked down and taken some hits, but they have made their way back and I think you should pay attention this time around.
Rating: 8/10 — a definite buy.
Here is a Veer teaser, a behind the scenes look at their upcoming video:
Divide the Blackened Sky is available on iTunes or in a store near you.
You can check The Veer Union out at:
Upcoming Tour Dates:
4/02 – Columbia, MO @ The Blue Note (w/ My Darkest Days)
4/03 – Des Moines, IA @ Wooly’s (w/ My Darkest Days)
4/04 – Rochester, MN @ The Wicked Moose (w/ My Darkest Days)
4/06 – Sault Sainte Marie, MI @ Kewadin Casino Showroom (w/ My Darkest Days)
4/07 – Dubuque, IA @ Courtside (w/ My Darkest Days)
4/10 – South Barrington, IL @ Penny Road Pub
4/11 – Ottawa, IL @ Luciana’s Rural Resort
4/12 – Clinton Township, MI @ The Detroit Pub
4/13 – Madison, WI @ RSR Stage
4/14 – Rockford, IL @ Bar 3
4/17 – Merriam, KS @ Aftershock Bar and Grill
4/20 – Lubbock, TX @ Lonestar Amphitheater (w/ Korn, Chevelle, Buckcherry)
4/21 – San Antonio, TX @ St. Mary’s University (Fiesta Oyster Bake w/ Buckcherry)
4/22 – Wichita Falls, TX @ Kay Yeager Coliseum (w/ Chevelle, Buckcherry)
4/25 – Colorado Springs, CO @ The Black Sheep (w/ Cavo, Janus)
4/26 – Denver, CO @ Marquis Theater (w/ Cavo, Janus)
4/28 – Mesa, AZ @ Mesa Riverview Park (UFEST w/ Godsmack, Staind, Chevelle)
5/01 – Abilene, TX @ The Lucky Mule (w/ Cavo, Janus)