Virus IV – Dark Sun – 3.5/5
Anyone remember Beautiful Sin that I raved about a few weeks back? Welcome to Luyten’s main project, Virus IV - a Heavy/Power band that certainly delivers a kick, the music is standard affair. If anyone remembers Artch from a while back, same concept is present here.
The album kicks off with one of the better intro tracks I’ve heard. I really do like it, it perfectly sets the mood for the rest of the album, not through music as it’s a spoken track, almost as though its been yanked from a film. We get an explanation from Luyten, (with her delightful Belgian accent I might add – sort a hard-edged French accent) playing a scientist proud of her work on this “virus IV” until naturally, an American bloke comes on the scene and releases it. This isn’t really a concept album though – more of an album with a consistent fictional lyrical theme running through it.
After this intro we get a second “intro” as it were, melodic, emotional and abruptly turns into a deep heavy riff, which is fitting, and has a great beat to bang your head to, even if pretty bland. There are solo’s, but again they seem rather simplistic and bland. The riffs succeed in varying from one mediocre but fitting riff to another. Perhaps im sounding harsh, they aren’t bad, they do what they’re intended to do – keep an atmosphere. Most metal utilises another guitar or a keyboard attack to create an interesting riff overlay to complement the vocals. This isn’t the case here, the job of keeping me interested is placed entirely on the abilities of Megali.
Luckily, she happens to be saving grace for this album. After hearing her work with Beautiful Sin, and now here, I have no qualms pointing out that she is climbing her way up in my mind as one of the best vocalists in the metal genre. She sings with power, without resorting to either trying to sound overly butch and masculine (e.g. Angela Gossow) or over feminising herself (e.g. Nightwish and relevant clones), and I cant think of many vocalists that succeed in displaying emotion without getting lost at either extreme. And yes, she succeeds in displaying emotion, and like Beautiful Sin she manages to pull off two distinct styles of vocals - The powerful power metal style, and the deeper hard edged Heavy style, which was less prevalent in Beautiful Sin. But there was also less of the soft emotional melodic present, and the few points where it does raise its head, the backing does nothing to support this, chundering along with their heavy riffs. The ballad track, Silent Arrows went some way to alleviate this problem, but placed so far along the album its hard not to have let the band lose hold of your attention.
Id be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed with this album. I was hoping for a band, not “Megali Luyten and her backing.” It manages to showcase her voice off well, and theres nothing really done wrong, it simply doesn’t feel too original, and is missing something. The vocals are the only thing bringing this out of mediocrity.
Highlights: Frightening Lanes, Dark Sun, Such a Shame
By T. Bawden