Posted By: Sensory Records
Release date: September 16, 2022
Genre: Progressive Metal
Marco Pastorino – vocals
Valerio Æsir Villa – Guitars
Alessandro Poppale – Bass
Mark Bravi – Keyboards
Alfonso Mocerino – Drums
List of tracks:
1. Virtual symmetry
2. My Story Unfolds
3. Heaven of Lies
4. Come alive
5. Butterfly Effect
6. Truth Fantasy
Sometimes my first impressions of a band can be very misleading. The first time I heard Swiss/Italian progressive metal band Virtual Symmetry was with their debut Message From Eternity, in which I tried several times, but for some reason it never clicked. for me. I had pretty much written off the band by then, but after seeing some great reviews for their second album, Exovere, in 2020, I decided to give it a shot, out of curiosity. Not only did I end up loving this album, but I soon discovered that the singer of the band was none other than Marco Pastorino, who of course I also know from Temperance, Fallen Sanctuary and several other bands, so knowing that being involved only made me further interested in the band’s music. Their self-titled third album arrives later this month, and after several listens, it hooked me just as much as its predecessor.
Virtual Symmetry plays a very classic prog style, often in line with Dream Theater and Symphony X for long instrumental portions, and sometimes similar to Seventh Wonder for vocal melodies. The music often transitions quite seamlessly from intense and heavy to quiet and relaxing, which is especially effective on longer tracks. Guitarist and founding member Valerio Villa is the show’s biggest star, displaying some very heavy and complex riffs at times, as well as good otherworldly melodies, and of course the solo work is brilliant too. The heaviest parts tend to fall somewhere between the fatter parts of a heavy DT track, or the faster, more powerful metal-centric SX tracks, often settling in a nice middle ground somewhere in between. As good as he is, keyboardist Mark Bravi is certainly no slouch either, often setting the backdrop for the music with his atmospheric touches, and he’s also allowed to go all out with flashier parts. , as well as fantastic parts. his own solos. And of course, Marco Pastorino is on top of his game as always, sounding powerful and intense when needed, while occasionally making beautiful, softer vocals, fitting in perfectly with the music. The production is also top-notch, handled by DGM guitarist Simone Mularoni.
In a way, this album almost feels like a reversal of Exoverse: where this album slowly built up to its massive 24-minute closing title, this album places its 20-minute title right at the start, with the rest of the album feeling almost like bonus material, after how packed that opening track is. Indeed, while I love the whole album, I think the opening track sets expectations maybe a little too high, and while everything else is still great, nothing else quite reaches it. quite the tops of this opening. However, many of the tracks almost feel like mini-epics, changing up a lot of tempos and adding all sorts of different passages to mix up the usual verse-chorus formula. For the most part this approach works well and helps create a fresh and dynamic album, although there are times when I find the songwriting gets a little messy, especially on “My Story Unfolds”.
Before we get into any of the other songs, though, it’s time to tackle this mammoth 20-minute run head-on. Unsurprisingly, it has a long intro, with some lovely lead piano melodies, enhanced by light symphonic accompaniment, and the full band kicks in after a few minutes. From this point the intro continues, with bursts of heaviness, more epic keyboards and brief solos, before the beat picks up around the four minute mark, leading into the first vocal section. The first part alternates nicely between mid-rhythm vocal passages and a rhythmic chorus, somewhat influenced by power metal, which is one of the highlights of the track. From there, the song continues, frequently alternating between quiet and heavy, fast and slow, with many fantastic passages. My favorite sequence comes around 12-13 minutes, where the riffs get particularly thick and heavy, mixed with a very cool and technically awesome keyboard solo, then shortly after there’s a section where the guitars get very sinister and complex , and this passage is absolutely killer. The softer vocal passages of the second half are also excellent, with an incredible late chorus, then the track ends with a kind of opening sequence, offering glimpses of some of the melodies that will appear on the remaining tracks. It’s an absolute opener, full of awe-inspiring moments both musically and vocally, and songwriting-wise, it all fits together perfectly. While Exoverse’s title track was already impressive, it’s by far the band’s best song to date, and I think they’ll have a hard time trying to top it.
Following such an epic opener was always going to be difficult, so maybe that’s part of the reason why the next track, “My Story Unfolds” is probably my least favorite on the album. It opens strongly, with some nice groovy riffs, and there’s good instrumental work throughout, as well as a great chorus, but I find it a bit uneven, with some parts not fitting in well. The beginning of the opening verse in particular uses a sort of echo effect, and quite honestly, it drives me crazy, making it hard to get into the song until the aforementioned chorus comes on. The rest of the song is better, but it never quite hits the heights of most of the other tracks here. Things pick up again with “The Paradise of Lies”, a more upbeat track, with a very classic DT touch. After a brief keyboard intro, it picks up the pace with a fast instrumental section and some lovely melodies, before slowing down for a quiet but very pleasant opening verse. The beat picks up again for a wonderful chorus, which steps into full-power metal territory, and is one of my favorites on the album. The extended instrumental section of the second half is stunning and contains some of my favorite bits from the album, with guitars and keyboards having plenty of room to shine. It’s a great track overall and should be released as the third single.
The first pre-release single is “Come Alive”, another power metal influenced track. On this track in particular, I notice a strong DGM influence, both in the guitar work and the vocal melodies, the chorus being slow and very melodic, while the verses move at a much faster pace. It has great instrumental work as always, but it’s also a simpler, easier-to-follow track than most here, making it a great choice for a single. Next is the second single “Butterfly Effect”, and if the album contains traditional ballads, this is it. There’s a bit of heaviness here and there, especially during the intro, but there’s an overall lighter feel, and once the first verse hits, it quickly turns into a beautiful piano ballad, where the voice de Pastorino takes center stage. It’s an entertaining track throughout, with beautiful instrumental work, a great soulful guitar solo in the second half, and of course the chorus is where the vocal melodies are at their best, and Pastorino delivers some of his best vocals on the album.
From this moment, the album calms down largely. There are still a few bursts of heaviness here and there, but I find that the second half of the album is never as intense as the first half. That’s definitely the case with “Fantasie di verità,” a lighter-sounding, keyboard-driven track that falls into melodic prog territory. There’s some heavy guitar to be found, but it’s largely in short bursts, and it’s a very melodic track overall, with the guitars and keyboards being a bit reduced in intensity, rather leaving some room for the voice to shine. At the same time, there’s a bit of a classic prog feel to some of the instruments, especially with the way the keys sound at times. The chorus is the highlight, however, with Pastorino singing in his native Italian language, and it sounds fantastic.
The last heavier track is “Rising” which opens with an intense instrumental passage, very guitar driven, before settling into a nice melodic prog groove. This track is heavier than the previous one, with a few explosive sections throughout, but it generally remains more laid back and relaxed, and has a fantastic chorus, as well as great instrumental parts, with the faster sections being particularly excellent. The album’s close is “Insomnia”, a very quiet track that has some vocal parts, but feels less like a full ballad, and more like an outro, never really developing beyond that. It’s pretty cool for what it is, but it’s not one of the most memorable tracks on the album.
Despite a slightly disappointing ending, Virtual Symmetry is a fantastic album overall, as well as a perfect representation of what the band stands for. The 20-minute opening track in particular is a stunning display of the band’s talents, running the gamut from heavy to soft to somewhere in between, and it lets the whole musician shine, along with the voice. The songwriting on the rest of the album doesn’t quite hit the same highs, but it’s still a great album overall, and any fan of more classic-sounding progressive metal should check it out.
Written by: travis green
My overall mind – Personal editor
Travis Green is a Canadian writer for My Global Mind, with a particular passion for power metal, as well as an interest in metal in all its forms.