While Verse Vica's debut album is peppered with the syncopated chug-fests “djent” is renowned for, and despite the fact that (the aptly-titled?) “Djinn” veers uncomfortably close to being an exemplification of the aforementioned genre; to label the band as such would be rather impetuous.
In fact, if you were to combine the harmonised guitar lines and the sweep-picked arpeggios of Between the Buried and Me (“Cities I: Cerulean"), the neo-classical bent and staccato riffing of The Human Abstract (compare 04:55 in “Ravenholm” and 02:32 in “Horizon to Zenith”), and the exotic-by-meat-and-potato-metal-standards instrumentation both bands employ (acoustic guitar in “Ravenholm” and keyboard in Cities II: Saffron”), with the reverb-heavy, instrumental dronefuzz of post-rock (“Airyth”, “Marumari” and “Koholint”), “Endeavor” is what you’d get. A winning combination, no? Well, yes. But unfortunately there are a few elements that detract from the overall awesomeness of “Endeavor”.
The two biggest gripes I have with the album concern the drum and vocal departments, respectively. In metal using programmed drums in lieu of an actual drummer is often a very polarising move, as the results aren’t always the most convincing and/or enjoyable (plus metalheads are fucking crybabies). The obvious artificiality of the drums on “Endeavor” (at times the snare sounds like a FruityLoops preset) is rather distracting, as it doesn’t seem to work with the tone of the album. They seem to occupy the space between "realistic enough to ignore" (i.e. “Board up the House”), and “so unabashedly fake, camp and tacky that it works" (i.e. “Cloak of Love”). I guess you could call it the uncanny valley of drum programming.
With respect to the vocals, long stretches of most songs are marked by their absence. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, why utilise them at all if the instruments are the focal point? This is compounded by the fact that the harsh vocals, while not a detriment to the music as a whole, recall those of Muhammed Suiçmez' (Necrophagist) in that they are all function with no regard for fashion. The cleans on the other hand, are a little more interesting, and seem to channel SikTh on “Verdugo”. On "Cities II: Saffron”, however, they are rather tuneless and grating. Although there’s nothing particularly “fresh" or mind-blowing about “Endeavor”, that doesn’t mean it’s completely meritless. In fact, despite its flaws, for the most part it’s a pretty suite album (lol). For fans of The Human Abstract who want, but will most likely never get another album, this should be a welcome addition to their music library.