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In Virtue - "Delusions of Grandeur" (CD)

In Virtue - "Delusions of Grandeur" CD cover image

"Delusions of Grandeur" track listing:

1. Paralyzed (Radio Edit)
2. Paralyzed (Full)
3. Fatal Eclipse
4. Dreamwalker
5. Foresworn
6. Heather
7. Masochism & The Pursuit Of Perfection
8. Underture

Reviewed by on April 8, 2010

"'Underture' takes the melodies you've just heard on the album and puts them through a blender, spitting them out in genres ranging from doom metal to jazz, blues, country, classical, Middle Eastern, electronica, dance and even Hawaiian island music."

The virtues of In Virtue's "Delusions of Grandeur" include some superb chops and inventive songwriting that blends metal and non-metal genres. There are, regrettably, some serious flaws too, including vocal missteps and a sequencing issue that could cause some to lose interest early on.

Give these Bay Area bashers some credit for their chops. Singer Corinne Reif has definitely earned the masters degree in voice the band's press materials credit her with having. She's got a voice that soars and swoops with the best of them, maintaining enough toughness to blend in with the metallic sounds around her. Guitarists Trey Xavier and Greg Horton tear up the fretboard with superb solos and riffs throughout the disc.

The disc takes off with "Paralyzed (Radio Edit)," which appropriately enough, fades in almost as though you'd just tuned in a radio station. Reif's vocals are front and center, but bits of lead guitar slither throughout, and there are some great fills here. Xavier's shouted background vocals add death metal grit to the proceedings, which seem to alternate between power, thrash and progressive metal on the instrumental front. That's all well and good, but the very next track is a "full" version of the very same song, with a minute-and-a-half of extra content (including some very good acoustic guitar breaks). The effect is that you're essentially listening to 11 minutes of the same song. Splitting the two up and putting one near the end of the disc would've given the disc a lot more listenability (putting the disc on random will solve that problem for most, though).

"Fatal Eclipse" begins with superb guitars before proceeding into power metal territory, complete with some unintrusive backing keyboards. It's a good showcase for Reif's vocals, but Xavier's growling becomes more of a part of the proceedings and ever-so-slightly interferes with the sense of melody.

"Dreamwalker" is an old-school power metal tune in the Dio mode, with lush keyboards, but this time, it's more of a full duet between Xavier and Reif. It just doesn't completely gel, though the rest of the song, complete with piano sounds and a 1970s-style synth solo, is killer.

"Foresworn" takes us into thrash territory, with Xavier taking the lead vocal slot in the opening. It works better than "Dreamwalker," and the moments when Reif and Xavier sing simultaneously have an interesting energy. That said, by the time "Heather" came around, I found myself growing a little tired of Xavier's voice being so prominent in the proceedings. Part of that, though, is because Reif is so great when she takes over. Hers is the last voice you'll hear on the album, closing out "Masochism & The Pursuit Of Perfection."

Then commences the nearly nine-minute instrumental "Underture" that shows off the band's skill as songwriters, players and arrangers. "Underture" takes the melodies you've just heard on the album and puts them through a blender, spitting them out in genres ranging from doom metal to jazz, blues, country, classical, Middle Eastern, electronica, dance and even Hawaiian island music. It has to be heard to be believed, and proves that a great melody remains great, no matter what sounds you dress it up with.

There was nothing I hated on this album, though Xavier's growling does get a bit old. It works well in a small role as a counterpoint to the lushness of Reif's vocals, but when he takes the lead, it tends to clash a bit with the music.

That said, that is the kind of thing that you essentially fix on your second album — and fortunately for discerning metal listeners, In Virtue is doing just that, with the new 13-track record set for release later this year. Here's hoping they keep the same genre-bending sense of musical adventure that makes "Delusions Of Grandeur" so fun to listen to.

Highs: "Paralyzed (Full)," "Underture" and "Fatal Eclipse"

Lows: The sequencing of "Paralyzed (Full)" right after the radio edit, Xavier's growling vocals tend to clash with the music.

Bottom line: A fun, genre-bending metal record.

Rated 4.0 out of 5 skulls
4.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)