Review: Jack Price
Since forming in 2008, Michigan melodic metalcore groovers Of Virtue have delivered 3 feature length albums. After a 4-year gap since releasing What Defines You, Of Virtue have rounded out their sound into a well-fed beast of angst and fury. The lead up to Of Virtue’s 2023 album, Omen, has been laced with singles dropping as far back as April last year. The band has figured out the algorithm, amassing 6 million plays (on Spotify) on Sinner alone, with many of the other singles cracking the million-play mark.
Omen is a vibrant tapestry of intimate and personal thoughts and anger, and a concoction of heavy genres, taking the stylings of post hardcore, metalcore, pop-punk, alternative and prog, to deliver a perfectly balanced album that meets the mark on so many levels. Fans will be more than satisfied with the release, taking the already established sound Of Virtue have worked hard to cultivate and taking it to the next level.
The title track, Omen, opens to a disorientating sound echoing through to an alt metal style riff, before backing off to the echoing ambient noise as the mixture of Damon Tate and Tyler Ennis’s voice, heavily mixed and layered with a static-like effect, delivered an almost poetic verse. Tate builds up the verse before the chorus sneaks up on the listener, almost as if the whole song had been the chorus the entire track. The bridge opens up as Ennis delivers some brilliantly performed guttural vocals which is accompanied by some beautiful guitar work from Damon and Michael Valadez. The track is a great opening and sets the entire atmosphere for the diverse album.
Hypocrite showcases both Ennis’s vocal work as well as the bands musical stylings, with some impressive guitar work. The intro is reminiscent of Bad Omens and We Came As Romans, the chorus is catchy, while being a perfect contrast to the aggressive verses and bridge which slows down before a tasty metalcore breakdown before the final chorus.
Cold Blooded is a surprise track, mixing a more pop styling with metalcore riffs and rhythmic drum beat from Ryan Trinh that is both groovy and aggressive at the same time. Opening to a chime and piano intro before bursting into the heavy, gritty guitar chugs backed by an orchestral sound, the track drops that groovy drum beat for the chorus with Tyler’s vocal performance blurring the genre lines between pop and heavy before hitting us with one hell of a chorus.
Adding to the already saturated mix of genres, a little bit of grunge adds to the intro of Cut Me Open. This track showcases both vocalists’ styles with Tate taking lead on the verses before Ennis destroys the chorus and bridge. It has an early 3 Days Grace feel with the amazing hook in the chorus, droning guitars and hammering drums from Trinh. The breakdown is one of the most aggressive on the album, speeding up a relatively slow-paced track. Lyrically, the messages of dealing with a toxic relationship and the animosity it breeds is delivered loud and clear.
A more emotionally driven track gets real with Sober, mostly delivered by the heavy vocalist Tyler while backed by Damon. The track is less about getting sober, more about the loss of a loved one moving on while dealing with addiction and the feeling of being alone and alienated from the support of a significant other. While it is a more heartfelt song, it still hangs onto the heaviness of the band while committing to the message of the track. Off the back of the sombre tones of Sobre, A.N.X.I.E.T.Y is heavy as fuck!
Ennis delivers a brutal chant of the title, the lyrics encapsulate the feelings of anxiety and the feeling of that all-controlling, overwhelming suffocation one experiences during an anxiety attack.
Trinh’s percussion hammers the track forward while the guitarists battle the pounding, almost heartbeat rhythm of the track, like the throbbing pulse in your temple as your ears ring and vision narrows during a panic attack. The track is an anthem that will most definitely find a place in their live shows.
The only guest vocals on the album are supplied by Rory Rodriguez of Dayseeker, the track is the melodic track Floating. The song is eclectic, keeping a more symphonic style for the first verse which complements Damon’s vocals wonderfully, while the second verse featuring the breathy vocals of Rodriguez enters a heavier feel with the percussion kicking back in before the return of the guitars prior to the chorus. We see all three vocalists join in for the chorus while the bridge is predominantly Ennis and the guest vocalist.
It’s refreshing to hear a guest vocalist, especially as big as Rory, stick out the end of the track, rather than do his verse and bugger off. No, he sees it through to the end and matches the bands vocalists amazingly.
It’s not hard to see why Sinner has gained the band so much exposure. If Of Virtue wore rune-adorned masks and robes, you’d swear just from this track that Sleep Token had moved into the metalcore neighbourhood. This track is sexy and groovy, then hits you with the distorted guitars and Tyler’s aggressive vocals throwing the song on its head. Absolute banger.
Holy is a perfect follow up to Sinner, delivering some of Tate’s best high cleans of the album and a chorus that is heartfelt and earnest. It’s more on the Alt metal side of the album but it picks the pace up from the previous track.
Cannibals opens with an early Linkin Park-esk intro of whiny guitars and distortion effects, quickly swerving through a nice, paced verse before the borderline operatic chorus. Of Virtue have nailed the catchy chorus formula but it’s the bridge that makes this track. Ennis gives a raspy performance that grows into full on belting screams, backed by the guitarists and distorted drumming before exploding back into the foreground. The bass heavy ending is a nice break up before the final chorus.
False Idols closes off the record as a perfectly mixed medley of the entire album, mixed with electronica synth and a flowy, operatic chorus. The mix of vocals from Damon and Tyler is a perfect pairing, while the guitar solo (while being completely out of left field) is superb and doesn’t feel out of place on this track. The big finish is Ennis’s screaming vocals over Valadez and Tate’s guitars, which fade to a satisfying conclusion.
Omen is packed chock-full of bangers, there is not a track on this album I did not enjoy. Of Virtue have constructed a versatile collection of tracks sure to please both fans and newcomers to the band. While it is heavy enough to see them performing with the likes of Bad Omens, We Came As Romans, Asking Alexandria and other similar bands, the softer, melodic side of their work is able to set themselves aside from the crowd. Omen is an amazing record, with only one fault – it ends.
OF VIRTUE – Omen is out now worldwide via Arising Empire.