Almost as good as a debut album gets, Heartsounds serves as a beacon of hope in a drowning scene which is almost devoid of creativity. Of Virtue tip their hat to major influences such as Misery Signals, while forging their own heavier twist on the sound.
2 of 2 thought this review was well written
Let’s not beat around the bush here - Michigan’s Of Virtue are an incredibly talented band with a mountain of potential before them. That much was clear after the release of their first EP To Breathe Again in 2009.
I had high hopes for Heartsounds, but I honestly wasn’t expecting such a matured and complete release from the band, especially since it’s their debut. Of Virtue employ a sound similar to that of [L]Misery Signals[L], but it feels uniquely heavier and it’s done so well where many other bands will fall flat on their face. Heartsounds is explosive. It’s also passionate, beautiful, crushingly heavy and many things in between.
An Absence of Clarity opens the album with a tranquil yet haunting guitar instrumental, really setting the atmosphere for the 50-minute-long feast. Some simple snare work bridges you into the second track Damaged. This is where you will be grabbed by your neck and slammed into the floor. All instruments immediately roar along with Nickolas Maltby’s furious vocals, which feels reminiscent of the opening seconds in [L]Misery Signals[L]’ 2006 album Mirrors. From the first few minutes it’s pretty easy to see what the rest of Heartsounds will be like - pissed off with a generous slice of pain and melody.
It’s also pretty apparent straight away at how much the band’s musicianship has evolved since their EP. There is much more diversity to each song such as the track Isolation where the band aren’t hesitant to shy away from a heavier use of clean vocals. While cleans are sometimes considered a no-no for the genre or to be used sparingly, they work very well here and give you a break from the low-mid pitch yells.
Tracks like No Light and The Gypsy showcase how the band can continually strike that fine contrast between ball-breaking anger and atmospheric melody, while avoiding monotony within their songs. Breakdowns are present in quite a few of the tracks - but they aren’t used as a gimmicky tool, they flow effectively and are so angry that they’re hard not to headbang to. Polyrhythmic passages and riffs with irregular time signatures really drive home the sound Of Virtue have created for themselves, without pulling too much from their main influences.
The vocal work found throughout Heartsounds is solid to say the least, albeit repetitive. Maltby has kept the same style used on their EP To Breathe Again but has refined it into a more focused and powerful roar, which suits both the heavier segments and the prettier parts to songs he uses them in. To contrast this ferocity, the guitars still have their reverb-filled melodies (also heard in the EP) that are picked over the top of harmonising chords to great effect, and are equally brutal in heavier parts where they need to be.
The drumming is sharp and clean. I will often say that a good drummer can give a band certain flavours that make the music more interesting and really help it stand out. While the drumming is nothing overly-special (think Branden Morgan of Misery Signals or Andrew Tkaczyk of [L]For the Fallen Dreams[L]), it’s both proficient and interesting, sometimes breaking away from the guitar riffs and chug patterns - a cookie-cutter trap most other drummers in the genre fall into.
A real climax for me while listening to the album was a beautiful guitar buildup into a passionate and almost emotional finale to the ninth song Soul Searcher, where the combination of melodic picking, chords and Maltby’s gut-wrenching yells nearly proved overwhelming. It was moments like this that made me realise just how powerful yet desperate some of these songs were, and the passion could be felt rather than heard.
With all this praise though, Heartsounds is by no means perfect. Maltby’s yells don’t change their pitch all too often, and as mentioned before, can occasionally become a little grating until the next softer part. Another tiny nitpick is that each song clocks in at around 4-5 minutes which is typical of the genre, but this makes any technical passages that are dragged on a little noisy on the ears (all irony aside).
Overall though, I think I can safely say that Heartsounds is a triumph for Of Virtue, not just as a standalone release, but as a beacon of maturity and something more to come. It’s one of the most refreshing metalcore albums released in a couple of years, standing out from the pack in a scene that is almost totally devoid of creativity. I want to give this a 4.3 but because I can’t, I feel that the calibre of material and sheer effort made for a debut warrants the rating I’ve given it.
I am excited to see where the years will take Of Virtue, as it seems the only direction to go from here is up.
Again, we would like to thank everyone who attended our album release last Saturday at the Loft in Lansing. We had an amazing time, and hope you all did too. If you didn’t get a chance to pick up our new album because you didn’t make it out, or didn’t have the money, then go out and download it on iTunes for only $9.99! Our merch store will be up and running soon, where you will be able to order a physical copy of the album as well as some of our new shirts!
excellent atavisticguilt USER (1 Reviews)
August 4th, 2011 | 15 replies | 435 views
Summary: Metalcore that doesn’t suck…
1 of 1 thought this review was well written
Lansing Michigans Metalcore outfit Of Virtues’ debut release, To Breathe Again, may be one of the best releases the genre can offer. While the band is collectively very young and still have a growing fan base throughout the Mid-West they write with knowledge of seasoned artists and out perform some of the bands that very well could have been their inspiration.
With an overall sound along the likes of Misery Signals or in a less flattering way For the Fallen Dreams, for a metalcore release there is a lot of melody behind their writing. They take a progressive, clean, melodic approach than the mindless chugging of most metalcore acts. Although its not to say the album is breakdown free, it has a small share as heard in The Feat of Man which has one of the heaviest and yet best breakdowns woven into a song that I have came across. In the case for Of Virtue they have a real talent for well written and fitting breakdowns that will satisfy the crowd that need the breakdowns in their songs and those who will listen only if you have to.
Tracks like The Greatest Height and Blood on my Hands are the kind of tracks that makes you want to love metalcore again, it really does breathe life back into the genre, and that holds some weight when your talking about a band as small as Of Virtue in comparison to some of your household names. The Greatest Height and Blood on my Hands represent the more Progressive tracks on the record and are so beautifully done, you forget your listening to a band that you and only a few buddies know. Clocking in at almost 7 minutes Blood on my Hands shows every angle that this band has to offer from melodic yet crushing guitars, full clean vocal and guitar break for almost 2 minutes and transitioning back into a stand out heavy outro that is sure to resonate with you as the track fades away.
The albums’ only fault is that its only 6 tracks and you wish you had 4 or 5 more tracks to really feel the album as a whole. But with their full length due out this month I have no doubt that they will present the same caliber of music produced here, even more mature (than it already is) and just as crushing.
To Breathe Again is an album that stands tall over most metalcore, it breathes new life into a dying genre full of mediocrity. Of Virtue are an emerging band that will continue with their crushing and inspiring live shows around the Mid-West and grow their fan base and show the nation that metalcore doesn’t have to suck.
Look for Of Virtues’ full length album, heart sounds, due out later this month.
You can hear some new songs and old via their Facebook page.
I’ve never felt so unwanted, not like this. It is not your fault you were born with this ugly face, This faded out name, that everyone turns away. They can’t see passed the mistakes or the everything you lack. In your eyes I cease to exist. You’ll never have to see this face again. You’ll never have to learn my name again. It kills to know you’ve been forgotten. I let my guard down, my heart felt out. I heard a voice in my head ring, “Welcome to this pretty world and it’s ugly side, where comfort is the ghost.” How could you? How could you do this to me without a warning? I cared about you but you never cared for me. How could you do this to me? A stagnant memory. Once I find my way to the top I’ll be looking down on you, Just like you did me. Maybe one day you’ll learn how it feels…Won’t let this guard down and get pushed away again. You’ve all solidified that love and friendship come with its price. And I’m paying for it now. So this is what it costs for comfort and safety? I stand alone, left behind, unwanted by people I thought cared for me. I stand alone, taking steps to find the people that matter most in life. (Those people worth breaking your back for) Do you feel a cold breeze? Do you see these leaves fall? I feel another year end and I feel another friend gone. Just know…Once I find my way to the top, I’ll be reaching for the stars. And not for you. As human beings we need a constant to balance out the fade. Something more than just a face in the passing clouds. Maybe one day we’ll both see the same way. Maybe one day we’ll both see eye to eye.
Since we released our first album, “To Breathe Again” in December 2009, we have sold almost 500 digital copies on iTunes! We truly appreciate your support in purchasing the album, and not illegally downloading it.