Of Virtue – Omen Review

If I’m being brutally honest, I follow Michigan collective Of Virtue in the vain hopes they reclaim their former glory, and to express my disappointment whenever they fail to reach that. I get that it’s not fair to have low expectations, but as the saying goes, how the mighty have fallen. While they used to be aligned with a progressive edge and heart-wrenching melodic hardcore foundation not unlike Misery Signals or Counterparts, 2019’s What Defines You featured a sound that can only be defined by its devolution. What can we expect from Omen?

Truly, Heartsounds and Salvation, while undeniably influenced by melodic hardcore or progressive metalcore greats, were incredibly solid, featuring beastly barks, chunky breakdowns, and impressively emotional melodic overlays and atmospheric tinges – and fantastic lyrics to boot. Featuring original guitarists Damon Tate and Michael Valadez, Of Virtue’s current incarnation is best described as a Bad Omens-esque combination of new and old Motionless in White with a “ten years too late” take on The Word Alive, blending metalcore crunch, hard rock choruses, Bring Me the Horizon-esque electronic flourishes, and a touch of post-hardcore for good measure. If you read this and said “uh oh” between gagging on bile, you’re right to worry. While at its best when embracing backbreaking heaviness (which occurs very sparingly) and highlighting Ennis and Tate’s impressive vocal dichotomy, Of Virtue is good for the Octane Radio fans and pretty much no one else.

The problem with Of Virtue is that the effectiveness of its style is dependent on the charisma of its frontman. While Ennis is a solid enough vocalist in desperate barks and capable cleans, he is the weaker link of the two; Tate’s more soulful croons win out in tracks like “Sober” and “True Colors,” while the guest feature of Dayseeker’s Rory Rodriguez in “Floating” is an easy highlight. Otherwise, there is little to separate Omen from absolute mimicry. For the most part, this makes Of Virtue at least tolerable, with heavier tracks like “Hypocrite” and “Cannibals” crunchy enough for diehard post-hardcore/metalcore fans to get heads bobbing (even with an ugly touch of nu-metal in the latter) and he groovy riffs and djenty breakdowns of “True Colors” and “False Idols” are nice – but bad Bad Omens worship is prevalent nearly everywhere. The production and mixing favor vocals, giving Tate and Ennis their due, while robbing the instrumentals of their weight. Excepting the breakdowns of “Hypocrite,” “Cut Me Open,” and “False Idols,” the nimble guitar has little to nothing going for it.

Tolerable is not a reasonable excuse for quality, and milquetoast is the name of Of Virtue’s game. Tracks range from tolerable to downright putrid. While the abovementioned tracks are tolerable, you’ll find yourself cringing plenty throughout Omen’s far-too-long forty-minute runtime. From the pop vocals atop hip-hop beats of “Sinner” and “Holy,” to the absolutely unashamed plagiarism of Motionless in White’s “A-M-E-R-I-C-A” they call “A.N.X.I.E.T.Y.,”1 the issues are ubiquitous. The crunch is weak, the instrumentals are extremely simplistic, the vocals are too weak too often – what’s left is some sort of crunchier hard rock like Bad Omens and Bring Me the Horizon sans charisma or solid songwriting. Each track features the same radio-friendly flow, varying between poppy vocals, big rock riffs, and some screams, with maybe a breakdown tossed in there for good measure.

I knew this is what Of Virtue was gonna do. I have to stop lying to myself and say that the Michigan collective will never go back to the glory days. To be fair, what they consider glory days is likely different,2 but at what cost? Sacrificing artistry for fame feels like the stuff of fables, though I certainly wish Of Virtue all the best. Omen is a far cry from the greatness of their catalog, not to mention a far cry from those cut from a similar Octane-shaped cloth.

Rating: 1.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 128 kbps mp3
Label: Arising Empire Records
Websites: ofvirtueband.com | facebook.com/ofvirtue
Releases Worldwide: September 29th, 2023

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