Since the release of their first EP in 2009, Michigan’s Of Virtue have been fighting to carve themselves a place in the ever growing metalcore scene. They published independently 2 LPs that were well received by their fans and allowed them to tour outside of their hometown. In 2017, after the addition of two new members, they released a single called ‘Ghost Town’. The song showed some departure from their classic metalcore sound towards a new and more intriguing blend of rock, metal and electronic. Don’t worry, it’s still aggressive as hell.
Now ten years after their debut, Of Virtue have finally signed with label SharpTone Records. ‘What Defines You?‘ is the first album under their new banner, and I’m glad to say that it was worth the wait.
The album opener, ‘No Control’, sets the tone for what’s to come. Mean metalcore guitar riffs lead to a catchy rock chorus that then melts into an intense industrial sounding breakdown and, oh yeah, there’s also guitar tapping leads over the whole thing. They seem to be blending musical influences effortlessly. Lead singer Tyler Ennis growls are clear and every word falls down with impact, and the clean vocals provided by guitarist Damon Tate are just as good.
On the second track ‘Alone’, Of Virtue put emphasis on the clean vocals to deliver something that could have easily fallen on an Alter Bridge album. The breakdown surprisingly placed in the middle of the song clearly shows that they are not ready to compromise their sound for a radio friendly direction.
‘Surrounded’ has one of my favorite choruses on the album, and the superb growling verses are sure to create intense moments when played live. Add an awesome electronic breakdown and you have another killer track.
‘Immortal’ is its own beast and is one of the most unique sounding songs on the album. It trades the speed of metalcore for something more hypnotic. A stronger focus on bass keeps the groove going while electronic elements keep the song in a natural state of chaos. The growling/clean vocals formula is even reversed to underline the impact of the chorus.
‘Thanks for Nothing’ is sure to be a fan favorite during live concerts. The extremely catchy chorus makes way to an insane breakdown that should win over even the shiest crowds.
‘Pictures of You’ could be the band breakthrough song. Guest vocalist Kalie Wolfe is really adding something to the song and helps to make it something more than just another catchy metalcore single. She steals the show and you almost wish she was on more tracks. The intense breakdown changes the whole dynamic and reminds you that this is still a metal song. The outro with the two vocalists intertwining with the guitar leads is goosebumps inducing. It really shows what they can do when they break loose of the pre-established formula.
‘I Won’t Break’ and ‘Surrounded’ are two heavy tracks that could have easily been on their previous albums. They both have a structure that is closer to classic metalcore. The dual guitars solo on ‘Surrounded’ brings back memory of Iron Maiden but then immediately morphs into a bombastic breakdown that will make your head bang. The production here is A1.
The album closer ‘Confides in Me’ is a classic hardcore track with the intensity of an album opener. The fact that this is the last track is impressive, and this is another banger that makes me want to listen to the whole record as soon as it ends.
In conclusion, the move to a major label has not diminished Of Virtue authenticity. Yes, it is sometimes closer to rock and pop, but it is still definitely metal. This is Of Virtue’s best album to date and I can’t wait to see what’s next for them.
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