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Among the shiniest of forgotten gems - 96%

Valfars Ghost, January 13th, 2018

Much like Sweden’s Morbid, Virtue is a band that was cursed with an unfairly short lifespan and a lack of much-deserved renown. Virtue’s single, We Stand to Fight, is one of only two studio releases under the band’s belt and it’s among the most skillfully conceived and crafted offerings of the entire NWOBHM era.

From an instrumental standpoint, these guys did everything right. The title track explodes to life right away with a bombastic finger-tapped lead that employ a sharp tone. The rhythm guitars sound good too, sprinting forward with plenty of energy, and the riffs in both songs are powerful and memorable. The drums provide plenty of momentum and sound robust and forceful. The title track is focused more on continuous finger-tapped patterns that get surprisingly dense in the middle, leading up to the solo, which is just as satisfying, while the other is based more on meaty riffs and an operatic chorus.

The only weak point here are Tudor Sheldon’s vocals, which tend to be somewhat sloppy but aren’t without their strengths, namely a passionate and infectious energy. The vocals, strangely enough, are mixed much better in ‘High Treason’ than in the title track. In the latter, they don’t have much of a presence, like Sheldon’s mouth was too far away from the microphone, but in the former, his singing is just as vibrant as the other instruments. I can’t explain how this disparity was allowed to happen, but I’m glad the vocal mixing was done right once instead of not at all. And even when they aren’t mixed correctly, all the other elements at play are more than enough to distract you from the imperfections at the mic.

Virtue had enough passion, energy, and songwriting skills to make them the equal of any other NWOBHM upstarts, a fact that renders the group’s demise even more saddening. Their music is a treat for anyone who can dig deep enough to find it. Don't let this one slip past you.

Killer NWOBHM - 90%

nightzblood, April 2nd, 2008

Virtue's single came out rather late in the NWOBHM movement, but it remains one of the strongest singles of the entire genre. Housed in an eye-catching picture sleeve, both songs live up to the promise of the artwork. 'We Stand to Fight' is the better song in my opinion, with the incredible guitar intro giving way to a galloping riff that gets the blood pumping before the vocals even kick in. The singer has a strong, clear voice similar to the vocalists of Hollow Ground and Trident. Musically, comparisons can be made to early Satan, Trident's 'Destiny' and some of the faster, less commercial-friendly songs performed by Tokyo Blade in their early days. Unlike so many NWOBHM singles, the B-side lives up to the A-side. 'High Treason' picks right up where 'We Stand to Fight' left off, letting the guitars propel the song along. This song is a little heavier and a little less catchy than the A-side, but is still a solid tune in the same musical style as the A-side.

This single didn't catch on with collectors as early as many NWOBHM items (possibly due to its late release date), but it is now widely conisdered one of the essential pieces of NWOBHM vinyl. The single is featured on the Heavy Metal Obscurities CD series.