Artist: Virtue Concept
It isn’t too terribly often that the lyrics of a song match up perfectly with their instrumentation, especially when it comes to a genre as overpopulated as metalcore. Sure, the vocals might go well–perhaps even perfectly–but how often do the lyrics really sync up with the music you hear? Maybe you know what I’m talking about and know just how infrequently this really happens. On the other hand, maybe you’re new to the genre and have never truly experienced it–no matter which category you fall into, Sources, the debut full-length by Bavarian metalcore quintet Virtue Concept is an exceptional example. Comprised of pounding, passionate instrumentation fueled by heart-felt and emotional lyrics with just the right touches of melody and aggression, Sources is an immersive, catchy and well-rounded experience which will leave no listener in want.
Like many household-name metalcore bands–think August Burns Red or Misery Signals–Sources is a steamroller fueled by drums. Indeed, at any given moment, the pace of the song seems to set by the drums, whether they’re pummeling the listener at a break-neck pace, or soothing the listener with a calming, jazz-influenced atmosphere. More often than not, the drums are providing a precisely laid foundation of aggressive, straightforward power, serving as a sturdy canvas for the guitars, bass and vocals to wreak havoc on. Once the drums have established their motive force, they’re efficacy is amplified ten-fold by the dynamic guitar playing which is done overtop of them. Ranging from uplifting, melodic harmonies to downtuned, crushing heaviness, Virtue Concept’s excellent use of diverse fretwork makes each track on Sources individual and complete–especially when combined with the driving, rumbling bass that adds a heavy, beefy anchor to the album.
The vocals used throughout Sources are, in a word, intense. Rarely straying from a powerful, mid-range yell, Virtue Concept’s gruff, in-your-face vocal style established a practiced monotony which helps the band rather than hurt them. The strict preference of a particular kind of vocal style makes the deviations from that sound all the more meaningful–this can be seen in “The Ark,” which kicks off with varying high screams and low growls. “Treasure Hunt” is another example of effective vocal variation; featuring Karl Schubach of prolific metalcore act Misery Signals, it serves as the peak of the album and establishes a blitzkrieg-like momentum with which the duration of the album proceeds. This is not to say that the constant mid-range scream doesn’t get grating at some points–the first section of the album favors this style in combination with an unrelenting vocal attack which can grow hard on the listener’s ears and even serve as a potential deterrent to the following tracks. However, by the time “Treasure Hunt” rolls around, the listener should find themselves thoroughly engrossed in the album.
Virtue Concept’s combination of intense, dynamic musicianship and driving, powerful vocals is more than enough to establish them as a competent metalcore act. However, the real excellence to be found in Sources is the way the music and vocals align themselves with the lyrics to create a completely immersive effect. Whether it’s the headstrong introduction to “Blood Line” or the emotional powerhouse “Vicious Circle,” there is a near-unending well of dynamic lyrical syncopation behind every moment of Sources. When the instrumentation takes a cliff-dive into shoulder-smashing, jaw-dropping brutality, the vocals jump right along side it, holding nothing back in creating an all-out attack on the listeners ears, and renewing their perspective on standard metalcore dynamism.
If you’ve never found yourself truly taken a back by metalcore lyrically, then Virtue Concept have made the album for you. Packed with immersive instrumentation and vicious vocals, the heartfelt lyrics are just the icing on the sweet–albeit dense–cake that is Sources.
For Fans Of: Misery Signals, Hundredth, August Burns Red, Against the Flood
By: Connor Welsh/Eccentricism