Variable contrast papers have improved and the selection widened since 25 years ago. So the reasons many of us went with graded papers (Gallerie and Portriga Rapid in my case) are not as strong as back then. For example, warm-toned variable contrast papers did not exist back then.

Variable contrast papers (if you find one or more that you like the response curve, print color, paper base and surface of) will give you more local control of contrast than we had with just single grade papers. While I have gone with alternative (non-silver) processes these past 15 years or so, I have seen our students put this aspect of variable contrast papers to good use.

So I think it might be worth your while to experiment with a few different types and find what you like and can express yourself with.

Vaughn