Passion is an underrated quality in bands. The difference between a truly motivated group and shameless coattail-riders comes down to more than just sound and influences, and real passion is immediately apparent from the best of any genre, but rock and metal in particular.
What makes many of the crop of modern metalcore acts so monotonous is that for all their aggression and bluster, there’s no tangible desire beating in the centre to make their mark on the world. Virtue Lost suffer from no such problems, establishing from the outset of the ‘Volumes EP’ that their enthusiasm for heavy music is absolute. Their greatest strength is that they feel so genuine, utilising very similar techniques to a raft of other bands but doing so with such gusto that becoming swept up in their songs is far from difficult. It helps that their EP doesn’t have a bad track on it.
Employing a middle ground between Parkway Drive intensity, Miss May I metallic authenticity and Chelsea Grin darkness throughout a short but sweet collection of tracks, the band display clear ability in the ‘Volumes EP’. Each song has an individual identity, whether it’s the militaristic stomp of “Find Your Feet” or “So Far So Good’s melodic but serrated central riff and harrowing chorus, but the whole constitutes more than the sum of its parts. The expansive melodic sections on the EP’s bookends “Volumes” and “Ultimatum” show a knack for dynamics, while previously released track “A Live We’ve Left” cuts back to the roots of the terser end of metalcore. Those with a taste for breakdowns will find much to enjoy here, and each and every song sounds primed to ignite a pit in the live environment – though wisely the band put enough technical flair into these sections to keep them from being monotonous.
Praise must also go to the production and mixing on the ‘Volumes EP’, which belies the group’s unsigned nature with crispness of sound and suitable weight to impact with maximum intensity. Distinctly audible bass guitar is a particularly nice touch, and the mix leaves the six-stringers with enough room to fit intricacies among the bludgeon. Screamed vocals expectedly take up the bulk of the groundwork, and Daniel Morris’s howls of anguish are unflinchingly impressive. Clean singing is used if anything too sparingly, as each section where it is used elevates the song it’s a part of and provides an intriguing additional dimension. That Virtue Lost employ the same stock elements as a score of likeminded contemporaries but don’t feel like a rehash of past success stories is mostly down to their songwriting, with the recording quality only helping proceedings.
Virtue Lost are by no means claiming to be reinventing the wheel, but their take on the heavier end of the metalcore spectrum feels refreshingly genuine and surprisingly confident for such a young group. Hints of more diverse angles of attack are intriguing and future releases would benefit on expanding such traits, but a debut five track EP can be little more than a statement of intent and ‘Volumes’ represents that and then some.