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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.