Album Review: In Virtue – Embrace the Horror

In Virtue [USA]
Embrace the Horror
Full Length
Power Metal In Virtue – Twin Species: The Virtuous and the Vengeful by heavymetaltribune

Power metal is one genre that I have a soft spot for, being one of the first genres of metal that I really got into, with the big sweeping melodies of bands like Gamma Ray and the more tongue-in-cheek bands like Edguy, with their charming sense of humour. However, American power metal is one style that have never really captured my attention, being the birthplace of many “flower metal” bands. In Virtue, with their brand new album manages to catch my eye with their promise of a apocalyptic-themed concept album.

Embrace the Horror starts off slightly weak and disappointing though after the promising introductory sounds at the background, with a keyboard-driven melody and weak guitar tones, but the band redeems itself with catchy hooks, at least until vocalist The Infamous Ms. C comes in, sounding slightly off-tune from the rest of the band and weak in comparison with the energy that drummer Eli provides for the band. Fortunately though, the band improves as they go along, with melodies that only get catchier and addictive, and Ms. C begins to show her talent soon enough, backed by the growls of guitarist Trey. Trey also dispalys his ability on the guitars with the abundance of lead guitar lines that are littered throughout, ranging from face-melting shred-fests to heavily-chugged sections, with songs like Witch Hunt being good examples of his dynamic range of influences.

The band utilises quite a number of guest musicians throughout the album, and this is obvious right from the opening track, courtesy of the “In Virtue Apocalypse Orchestra” which comprises stringed instrumentalists such as violinists and cellists, and this certainly helps to make the music more authentic, compared to the numerous bands that instead choose to produce strings using keyboards and synths. The blending of these orchestral elements with the “traditional” metal music instruments make things extremely interesting, such as on the layering of a lead guitar and a lead violin (if I may call it that way) on Twin Species: The Virtuous and the Vengeful, resulting in the music sounding more dynamic. However, on songs like Witch Hunt, the choir gets slightly irritating, in particular the soprano, not sounding full enough to really produce an epic/symphonic metal effect.

The band displays its ingenuity in the songwriting department, with the number of influences that are thrown into the album so large that it is hard to classify the band into one particular genre. While the foundation of Embrace the Horror is undoubtedly power metal, they have also included such influences as thrash metal (on Foresworn II – Parabola), melodic death metal (Cataclysmic Shock) and progressive metal into their music, with orchestral segments reminding listeners of bands like Epica. Songs like In Service to His Madness and The Essence of Unreason even bring bands like Dream Theater to mind, with the song progression and the odd time signatures included. On The Essence of Unreason there is even a fun country/bluesy guitar solo included in the middle, making things even more interesting and unpredictable before seeing the band suddenly go into a more emotional section. The band also ensures that the music and the lyrics that are written fit each other, with tracks like Twin Species: The Virtuous and the Vengeful telling a story, alternating between heavy and melodic sections, with each section representing the vengeful and the virtuous respectively.

Closing track Afterture (Requiem for Planet Earth) is perhaps the track that displays the band’s style of incorporating weird influences in its music in its full glory, from calming soundscapes to carnival-like atmospheres to bossa nova inspired music then heavy chugging of the guitar, even including electronic elements making the song a disjointed piece, yet in its own weird way, a masterpiece at the same time, and makes the band sound as if they were trying to squeeze every possible musical genre into an 11 minute track.

While musically Embrace the Horrors get slightly weak at times, it has been awhile since a conceptual album has caught my attention in such a way. The numerous unconventional influences that the band has included has certainly helped in the band’s cause as well, making Embrace the Horrors overall a pretty enjoyable album for the casual power metal or progressive metal fan.

Embrace the Horrors is available for pre-orders here.

Related articles:
Interview with In Virtue

In Virtue on the internet:
Official website

©2011 Heavy Metal Tribune | Hong Rui

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