By Samuel Stevens
Release Date: December 4, 2020
Genre: Post-Hardcore, R&B, Pop
Label: Spinefarm Records
Every once in a while, an artist or band comes along that obliterates the mold, and New York City’s post-hardcore quartet VRSTY (pronounced Var-Si-Ty) is doing just that with their brand new EP, Cloud City. VRSTY made up of vocalist Joey Varela, bassist Javy Dorrejo, drummer Chris Cody, and guitarist Paul Gregory blend the stylings of R&B, pop, and metal into an exhilarating and unique mix. Unlike their previous releases, the six tracks -seven if you count the bonus remix track- on Cloud City don’t all appear on the surface as full-on post-hardcore anthems. However, the band’s love of pop and R&B are incorporated more blatantly than ever before. The band delved into its creative possibilities and reached for the highest potential they could achieve with the brand new EP. The songwriting evolution that is on display on Cloud City is unlike anything of their previous sets of work. Additionally, unlike their previous two EPs that were self-produced, Cloud City was produced by Andrew Baylis. Whose notably known for his work with Bad Omens and Sylar.
VRSTY first made a stamp in the scene with their 2015 debut EP, Lights. That ended up leading the band to steady touring for a few years following. Ultimately, their 2019 follow up EP, Blck -and its deluxe version- drove the band even further off the peak, as it ignited an immense fan response quickly after its release. VRSTY’s Blck EP drove a few of the band’s tracks, “YOU & I,” “Colorblind,” and “Nola” to accumulate over one million streams on Spotify, which is always inflating.
Cloud City opens with the fitting track, “Massive.” The opening track begins with an intro that does not define the track. Eventually, it explodes with a colossal guitar riff and a gigantic bass line that has a distinctive groove to it. Overall, “Massive” has the familiar musicianship from VRSTY you may already know from the past five years. “Massive” is basically a lyrical middle finger to the people in the music industry who are too busy keeping you down, so they can get ahead of you.
The third track, “Shameless,” kicks off with an enormous down-tuned guitar riff, which is almost djenty before the song takes a complete 360 and becomes a full blown R&B blended track, before the song’s heaviness returns once again for the chorus. “Shameless” tackles the narrative between giving into the thin line of temptations and staying resolute. It’s written from the perspective of a guy who is falling in love with a girl. This guy would do anything for her, but she doesn’t have the best intentions in mind for the two. Tracks like “Pathos” display some of vocalist Joey Varela’s impressive vocal range, whereas the EP’s title track “Cloud City” is where the band’s new R&B/pop route shines the most. The majority of this track sounds almost like a song reminiscent of The Weeknd but sprinkled with a dose of that unapologetic VRSTY post-hardcore. Additionally, the chorus is an expansive work that’s all-around heavy, lathered in R&B/pop, but equally cinematic with its crazy electronic instrument arrangements.
The final two tracks on Cloud City are two new versions of “Wilt.” The song is about a relationship where all the signs are wrong. You don’t listen to the red flags, thinking you know better. Ultimately, the relationship backfires in your face. The song first appeared on their previous EP Blck, and the first version is a fresh re-recording of the track. The second version is a remix with many notable differences. First, it’s more electronic-based pop versus its pop-rock sounding re-recording. Second, the remix features the pop-rock vocalist Gina Fritz, one half of the pop rap duo Keyed Up, in a mirroring of the story from the female point of view of the story being told on the track.
Cloud City demonstrates a creative decision in VRSTY’s constantly evolving songwriting that is absolutely going to pay off for the band in the end. This is just the start of a previously blossoming career for the band. I’m exceedingly interested to see what the members of VRSTY concoct on their future music releases. Please stay in touch with the band by visiting their social media in the links provided below and make sure to stream and purchase Cloud City when it’s released on December 4th.