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Review: Before I Turn – The Virus

Deathcore band Before I Turn’s debut full-length album is finally upon us after 2 killer, teasing singles were released earlier this year. It’s called The Virus and features the singles “Stella” and “Leeches,” both of which I am a big fan of. If you listened to and enjoyed those singles then you will surely like the rest of The Virus, found on Beheading the Traitor’s Youtube, iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify April 9th.

I’ll start with the singles since those have been around longer; “Stella” is my favorite. There is a lot of emotion and the breakdown is pretty sweet too. Take what you know about the emotion in that and apply it to the rest of The Virus. Not only do the vocals express pain/empathy with the lyrics, but so do the other instruments. “Prophets” and “Stella” are the best examples to look at for this. When the vocals are in the higher registry, the harshness of the drums and heavy, chugged riff from the guitar/bass portray the anger that resides within the pain. It’s almost as if “Prophets” had a terrible week and is finally able to let out its feelings. Just like in “Stella” the vocals go into a lower, more guttural range towards the end, as if to bring the anger from the instruments and the despair from the earlier vocals full circle.

Light synth or piano keys loom in the background on most songs to give some extra depth. “Prophets,” “The Virus,” and “Genesis” use them and I must say that the desired effect here worked on me. The concept of having a very gentle piano during or before breakdowns may sound generic in theory, but in practice it is done very well. The dreary atmosphere isn’t broken, but the delicacy of the piano adds a tinge of pure sadness that is not quite as grim as the despair in the vocals, yet it isn’t anything dramatic either. There is drama, however, in “Lust.” “Lust” has the same kind of piano, but the way it’s used there is quite a bit more dramatic. I was half-expecting to hear the rest of the plot unfold. For brief moments is the piano playing alone (on “Prophets”), but the mood does change when those moments occur. Like I said, it’s done tastefully.

Before I Turn is good with the whole chugging and breakdown deal, but they also have some leads thrown in to give some versatility to a repeated section. They may be quick little licks, but even those make a big difference. The leads on “At Your Grave” give a brighter undertone despite the album’s overall dark tone. The opening breakdown in “Meridia” is very simple (and different from the other songs), but the high note ringing out behind it gives it a chilling vibe that kind of makes you wonder where “Meridia” will take you next. “Meridia” also features a very brief, but excellent solo and good use of dissonance towards the end. Dissonance can be a hard to incorporate without it being annoying or sounding amateurish. The solo is in the same vein as the one on “Leeches” but shorter and (obviously) different. Think of those solos as cousins.

To wrap up The Virus, it is a dark album with the appropriate sound. Like many albums in the genre, the bass isn’t really audible, just during quiet moments or breakdowns. I think if Before I Turn utilized the low frequency of the bass, they really could have added more to the melancholy atmosphere. Perhaps next album/EP they will. The songs on The Virus are pretty easy to follow, have a solid breakdown, and some vocal variety. The vocal style will change depending on the lyrics, which really feeds into each song’s concept well. Overall, I find this a nice release and expect future releases to be equally as good or better.

Rate: 7.45/10

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