Though it makes a strong impact first time around, it is with further intensive attention that For All You Know Is The Mask I Wore from Welsh progressive metalcore band Virtue In Vain wins out and defuses any initial doubts or uncertainties. To be fair there is little about the band’s debut EP which raises any major disagreements between ears and proposition from the start, but being as brutal as it is creatively uncompromising, there is plenty to try and take in which needs time to explore and appreciate. The potential of the band within the release is especially exciting, and fills any moments which do not quite work as well as other elements, with assumptions of greater things to come.
Hailing from Cardiff, Virtue In Vain began in 2012 sparking and spicing their sound with inspirations from the likes of The Devil Wears Prada, Napoleon, Whitechapel, and August Burns Red. Their impact and sound has led the quartet to be regarded as one of the strongest upcoming bands in the UK metal scene, backed impressively by shows alongside bands such as Napoleon, Demoraliser, Dead Harts, Astroid Boys, Ready Set Fall, Lock & Key, Fathoms and many more. Now they are poised to explode upon the nation attention with For All You Know Is The Mask I Wore, a release with more than enough to leave a hungry appetite in its ferocious wake.
The EP opens with Prologue, a decent enough short instrumental soaked in drama and portentous ambience. Its dark tones do have the imagination supposing something predatory and intensive coming to examine ears, and so it proves to be once Martyrs emerges. A heavy snarling riff is first point of provocation, backed swiftly by uncompromising rhythms and a winy sonic lure of guitar. It is a gripping entrance, enticing bait which subsequently gathers its opening elements together to forge a more direct and slimmer raw incitement growled over by vocalist Hywel Thomas. Venom and antagonism spill from his gutturally bred syllables whilst the guitar of Emyr Thomas dances over the hellacious attack with sonic endeavour. Additional squalls of vocals add good variety whilst the guitars scythe through their attack and the corrosive potency of rhythms with addictive and acidic enterprise. The vicious swings of drummer Luke Sullivan bruise and tenderise the senses whilst the bass of Ryan Jones is a perpetual stalking of song and listener. Continuing to twist and show plenty of imagination in its varying gait, sonic trespass, and creative hostility, the track is an impressive full start to the release.
In Faith, In Ruin leaps in next and immediately has a great almost swinish texture to the vocals to shuffle things up there, whilst riffs and grooves again snarl with almost toxic intent. The more formula tones of Hywel Thomas provide the rawest challenge but variation again ensures that their alluring violation matches the persistently shifting landscape of the song. The intensive and busy nature of the track, as across the EP, means the technical and deeper layers within the encounter are often smothered but given time reveal the strong depths to songs, as shown again with the erosive persuasion of Left Behind. Its more restrained opening subsequently kicks up a gear though still reining in the violence and unleashing an addiction forging groove which lures the listener swiftly into the sonically cancerous and turbulent heart of the song. Aspects like that simply bewitch as does an unexpected and calm passage of melodic beauty which leads to a tempestuous climate, though the more expected sonic raging in the song does feed expectations and enjoyment equally. The potential even in the less striking elements though is inescapable and only adds to the anticipation for what comes next.
My Heart Is Bruised But Never Broken is another which takes longer to reveal all of its persuasion. Its technical and imaginative layers within the less attention sparking storm raging around them, are again the song’s major potency but once more needing time for ears to explore and revel in. It is nevertheless an intrigue and satisfaction igniting offering revealing more of the inventive songwriting within the band and their ability to skilfully create ruinous and inhospitable landscapes or scenery of pure melodic beauty as evidenced by the brief instrumental Relapse which follows. Like the oasis within the savaging of Left Behind, the piece is enthralling, spreading its elegance and charm into the EP’s title track which evolves out of its embrace.
The closing track is soon slipping into the darkest, ravenous depths of despair and sonic confrontation with a rhythmic battering to match, but still blending in the transfixing invention of its predecessor. The song slips from fury and violence to gentle seducing impressively and seamlessly, another aspect to the band’s creativity which it is easy to expect greater exploits from.
For All You Know Is The Mask I Wore is a strong and impressive introduction to Virtue In Vain, not one which declares the band as the future of British extreme metal but certainly with the potential to suggest they could make that kind of impact as they grow and evolve.
The For All You Know Is The Mask I Wore EP is available from May 11th through all digital platforms and at http://virtueinvain.bigcartel.com/
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