Grief is a universal and unfortunate part of the human experience. Loss goes hand in hand with love, but this fact holds little relevance or merit in our lives until our myopic lens is met with the crushing reality of death. Grief in V Parts is a sonic encapsulation of the heartache and existential rage felt after losing one we love. The EP is the debut release for Charleston, South Carolina screamo outfit sear, but two of the three members played together previously in To Forget which was active from roughly 2017-2021.
Sonically, sear differentiates itself from To Forget by eschewing the melodic sensibilities in lieu of more dissonant and metallic inspiration. While the former project felt very informed by European emotional hardcore bands such as Raein or American post-hardcore giants Touché Amore, sear incorporates elements from death and black metal as well as 90’s metalcore into their take on emotional hardcore, sharing kinship with bands like Portrayal of Guilt, Full of Hell, and even Gaza without sounding derivative or piecemeal. The product of which is a brooding combination of hardcore urgency and metallic muscle.
As can be assumed from the title of the record, there are five tracks labeled sequentially in Roman numerals, allowing the music and the familiarity of the process to speak for itself. “I” opens the record with discordant guitar arpeggiation and thunderous crash hits in a half-time trudge. Staccato Dillinger-esque chord stabs and frenzied vocals disrupt the tempo halfway through before falling back into the slow stumbling step of a breakdown as heavy as the emotions which fuel the record. In just over 2,5 minutes, “I” is a dizzying whirlwind of meter changes, masterfully capturing the sudden recollection of the painful reality we avoid during denial.
The dancey drum pattern which begins “II” channels the more whimsical side of 2000’s era mathcore while the anxious and atmospheric clean guitar passage of the latter half and blistering subsequent track “III” could have easily found a home on Portrayal of Guilt’s We Are Always Alone. “IV” could be misread as a moment of respite for the album. However, the minute and a half instrumental funeral dirge quickly erupts into furious blackened hardcore and is punctuated with a breakdown which would put a smile on Spencer Hazard’s face.
The final track “V” begins with a heartbreaking sample of a whimpering dog, adding context to the album cover and the phrase ‘buster forever’ on sear’s bandcamp. The menacing sludge of “V” evokes memories of defunct noise-sludge juggernauts Gaza or its current iteration Cult Leader with disgusting death-influenced guitar chords and perhaps the heaviest drum work on the album. Just as the track ramps up to its most intense, the guitar begins to fade from distortion to clean modulation and culminates in the ritardando of solemn acceptance.
Having just recently bid farewell to a beloved canine companion myself, Grief in V Stages hits me in a visceral and poignant way. It has provided a voice for my seemingly ineffable lamentations and a sense of solidarity in a time where I felt most isolated. Thank you sear for sharing your pain and, by tacit, allowing me to heal from mine. Buster forever.