Between Virtigo’s penchant for pentagrams and inverted crosses and the fact that they go by the stage names “Lord Shiatan” and “Emperor Melek,” I wasn’t expecting much from the Canadian duo’s debut; maybe some cheesy satanic industrial rock in the vein of Midnight Configuration or past-their-prime Electric Hellfire Club. What I found, on the other hand, was far better than anything I would’ve imagined, and a lot more legitimately frightening. Despite the metal-derived aesthetic, Virtigo’s sound owes at least as much to the terror EBM of Suicide Commando as they do to the dark theatrical grind of Slayer or Deicide. Though heavy power chords punctuate most of the tracks here, the guitars fill out the sound rather than overwhelming it. The core of each track is based on stomping industrial beats, chilling electronic atmospheres and lots of horror film samples. The vocals are similarly inspired by industrial music, with lots of rasping effects, and Shiatan’s background in black metal lets him achieve a level of distortion reminiscent of Skinny Puppy with a lot less reliance on studio processing; the tortured shouts on “Artificial Slut” and “The Nature of Corrupted Systems” are particularly impressive, if painful. Shiatan and Melek also do a good job pulling off quietly creepy effects, as on the instrumental “Released From Wrath” and the atmospheric “Virtigo.” As a nod to their grindcore side, the pair finishes the album with “Homesick,” a much more straightforward metal number that lets Melek show off his chops with the guitar. All in all, though, this album wouldn’t sound at all out of place in the clubs, and fans of the metal-influenced terror EBM of projects like Psyclon Nine ought to especially enjoy this one.
Visit www.virtigoband.com for more information.
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