ARTIST: OF VIRTUE
TITLE: WHAT DEFINES YOU
LABEL: SHARPTONE RECORDS
WORDS: JO COSGROVE
No band is ever one genre, one style, walking down one lane along the road. The blending and blurring is always interesting – in the best and sadly the worst ways – and it can sometimes bring out what pulls in listeners. For many years now, Of Virtue have pulled in their very own following from their take of the metalcore genre. Their sound has been described as being suitable for fans of “any type of rock”, and there is definite derailing from the stereotypes everyone would associate with metalcore. A development – perhaps an improvement?
Releasing their third full-length record, ‘What Defines You’, the title itself is a reference to the fluidity and unsteadiness of definitions in life and in the band’s case, music. The first track, the band’s latest single ‘No Control’, is one of the ideal examples of what separates Of Virtue from what one might think of when they hear “metalcore”. For the majority of the track, the music is heavy and it is loud and noticeable and nowhere near subtle. From the simultaneous introduction by the percussion and guitar working as one, to the expectation-smashing post-bridge guitar solo, to the vocal versatility of vocalist Tyler Ennis, it gives the purest demonstration on what’s making Of Virtue stand out in the industry.
“definite derailing from the stereotypes everyone would associate with metalcore”
The vocals will become fans’ quick favourite element of both ‘No Control’ and the record. The versatility, moving between levels of melodic singing and grittier dirtier growls, gives off a versatility of emotion that can be sensed and felt throughout one listen. Weaving in such depth is talent, and if that talent can come out in one track, then the rest of the album will be an adventure.
When Of Virtue aren’t sticking to the heavier metal roots they grew from, they’re extending into a more alternative area of rock. It softens the blows, and for alternative fans, it gives them a real chance to get into the band and their music. On this record, that honour goes to the more alternative-inclined ‘Alone’. This isn’t to say there are no metal elements – they surely unveil the metal influences throughout the verses – but things grow gentler and catchier in the choruses. Always a winning formula, to keep the catchier chords for a song’s chorus, and something about ‘Alone’ just sets the perfect example of that. Grabbing hold of the listener’s attention and keeping them hooked, no matter their preferences or their loyalties in the rock world, it works in the most creative and clever way.
If there was one song to not ease in a new fan, but trap them and guarantee their return as a regular listener, then this is he ideal song. The key is all in the catchiness; a hard to fail, easy to win system in all genres of music. That’s how it works as a trap but in all honesty, when it’s getting a good tune stuck in the head, does it really feel like a trap?
“this album is another big leap into leaving their legacy in a good place, shaking things up and never letting everyone down.”
As the listener reaches the beginning of the end, rounding off with the this-or-that combination song ‘Confide in Me’, it stays consistent on how every little difference heard, felt, seen and experienced changes up the entirety of what is offered. It’s a debate: fans either come for the verses, or for the choruses. They’re there for the heavy or the soft; the screams or the notes; and that’s how it’ll always be with Of Virtue.
The way the band works makes the littlest of sense, but all sense at the same time. It’s consistent but in a way, it’s still unbelievable that it can be. It’s still just short of 100% original – mixing and matching is nothing new in the industry, let alone in rock and alternative genres – but this album is another big leap into leaving their legacy in a good place, shaking things up and never letting everyone down.
‘What Defines You’ is an adventure. Ups and downs, anger and calm. A storm on a disk with occasional winking of the eye. They know how to keep things exciting, and they know how to highlight each other’s musical worth. Prepare for the undefinable wonder of ‘What Defines You’.