In Virtue - Embrace the horror 4/5
1. Suspense of disbelief
2. Twin species: The virtuous and the vengeful
3. Witch hunt
4. In service to his madness
5. Alea iacta est
6. The essence of unreason
7. Foresworn II - Parabola
9. Dead black eyes
10. Afterture (Requiem for planet earth)
In Virtue impressed me with their diverse debut 'Delusion of grandeur'. While rooted in power metal, it crossed over into thrash and progressive territory which wildly diverse songs. The diversity is back with a vengeance here with elements of power, thrash, death and progressive metal. The vocals are primarily handled by "The Infamous Ms. C" with some background death vocals from (brilliant) guitarist Trey. I like Ms. C on the whole, but sometimes the vocal melodies come off as being off from the rest of the music. I don't think it's a vocal issue as much as it's just the way the vocal melodies are written.
As noted, the music is quite varied. The opening track "Supsense of disbelief" has a keyboard-laden intro which wouldn't sound out of place on an Ayreon CD (this melody is repeated in "Dead black eyes" near the CD's end), but quickly becomes a European styled melodic power metal song. This is probably the most straightforward song on the CD. My favorite track is probably "Twin species: The virtuous and the vengeful". This has some incredibly cool violin/guitar interplay which is a treat. Speaking of the guitar work, it's absolutely terrific on this CD. From melodic power metal harmonies, to full on shredding, to chunky thrash riffs, it's always superb. The CD continues to twist and turn down many different pathways - sometimes being ultra-fast and aggressive (not unlike Into Eternity) with a mix of growls and clean vocals. Other times, with some crazy musical jamming, which varies from melodic to dissonant. Other times with classical accompaniment and choir vocals. In Virtue are nothing if not diverse. The often tongue-in-cheek lyrics about various reasons for the apocalypse are amusing too ("Hallelujah it's a fire storm..." as a sing-a-long chorus is pretty amusing).
Much like their debut which closed with the brilliant "Underture" this CD closes with "Afterture - Requiem for planet earth", which once again is an insane genre hopping instrumental. The genres are not limited to subgenres of metal here (although they are covered too) so expect to hear anything and everything. The incredibly diverse and amusing rehash of the CD's melodies is somehow hilarious, beautiful, silly, and solemn as the musical roller coaster goes on for 12 minutes. As for the CD as a whole, I would like to see the vocal melodies cleaned up a bit, and a big time production would be nice, but it's hard to think of this as anything less than excellent. It's hard to compare this band to others as you could almost randomly pick metal bands out of a hat and here something from them on this CD. If you like the diversity of various subgenres, (albeit rooted in power metal) then this is easy to recommend. It may drive you insane absorbing all this music, but you'll probably have a smile on your face once you're finished. So, once the last notes are played, wipe the drool off your chin and spin it again!
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