In Virtue - Delusions of grandeur 3.5/5
2. Fatal eclipse
6. Masochism and the pursuit of perfection
California's In Virtue in their own words "...represents a juggernaut of multi-stylistic pooling and aural evolution..." and I don't disagree. Rooted in power metal the songs include elements of thrash, death, and progressive metal (though I hear more of a progressive rock influence than I do in the average progressive metal band). The lead vocals are ably performed by "Ms. C" (Corinne Reif) with plenty of backing growls. The band does truly hit on many different genres, with the overall result being a thrash/power metal sound with a hint of progressive rock thrown in and perhaps a dash of Hammers of Misfortune boldness. The vocals of Ms. C. are good, but are perhaps a little too prominent in the mix. Also, there are some odd vocal melody choices at times that turn me off once or twice over the CD.
The CD opens with a radio edit version and proper version of "Paralyzed" (just skip the radio edit). It starts off sounding like fairly standard female fronted power metal. Ms. C's voice isn't exactly operatic, but it's not too far flung from that style. "Paralyzed" has a peppy, catchy chorus, but things change mid way with a slower section with heavier riffs. I'm sure this creates quite a headbanging frenzy live, but I could do without the filtered vocals in this section. "Full eclipse" has a peppy, catchy opening riff that would sound right at home on a Tierra Santa track. The song doesn't stay full out in this fast double-bass tempo as things get a bit more midtempo with some really cool guitar licks behind the vocals during the verses. The chorus has quite a compelling, haunting melody which is ruined on the final line with a very odd twist in the melody. This sounds better on the final chorus which is done in a more overtly operatic style. "Dreamwalker" has a fairly even mix of Ms. C's vocals and death growls. The chorus is another catchy one, even when done in growls thanks to some backing keyboards providing the melody - very clever. There are a lot of keyboards in this track and this is one of the tracks where I get a 70s progressive rock influence. "Foresworn" is the CD's most aggressive track with some very thrashy riffing to start along with growled vocals to start things off. "Heather" is the last "proper" song with some more strong melodies and cool riffs. Perhaps my favorite track is the final song "Underture". As one might expect it's the opposite of an Overture, providing a musical review of the songs that came before it. The band hops across many different genres and instruments at an at times dizzying pace. This track is a ton of fun I always crack a smile when listening to it.
Overall, I am impressed with In Virtue. The musical talent is there, and the songwriting is pretty solid too. There are plenty of compelling harmony guitars and other lead guitar work. The songs all have pretty compelling and memorable melodies but are also not simple or straightforward. There are lots of acoustic breaks, tone changes, and some mixing in of other instruments that work very well. The production is a good, no frills production where everything sounds clear. I wouldn't mind hearing them with a bit more budget in the production and some help in getting the vocals mixed correctly. They are apparently working on a new CD as we speak, and I'll look forward to hearing it.
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