Forming in the Manchester area towards the end of 2016, Viral Strain are already set to release their second EP Four Walls and the band don’t rest on their laurels promoting it. Regulars on the touring circuit, they have used their experience of their first EP It’s Alright and gigging to hone their sound and create this four track EP recorded once again at Rain City Studios. What is also good to see is that they maintained the same line up for this EP so let’s have a listen and see if they have progressed as musicians.
After listening to the first song “Four Walls”, it is easy to determine that Viral Strain have progressed as musicians and got closer together as a band. You feel that they are finding the sound that they are wanting to achieve and convey to the listener compared to their debut – not that there is anything wrong with their debut. What is also pleasing is the sound is so much thicker than that first release, much more brutal courtesy of Gavin Brady who has honed the sound to what the band requested. The song itself is a good hard rock song reminiscent of Number of the Beast-era Iron Maiden in places and in fact Chris’s vocals are akin to that of Bruce Dickinson himself due to his vocal range. The solos from guitarists Chris and Ben are articulate, precise and gets the air guitarists among us strumming along.
The next song “Into the Cold” is much more in your face and aggressive in nature although not quite thrash. There is a bit of Joey Belladona-era Anthrax in there in some places. Drummer Jay and bassist Matt have a tough task keeping Chris and Ben in check but they do it well and have proven themselves to be competent musicians. The chorus has a surprisingly singalong vibe to it and after a few listens, I may have joined in but I am not going to tell anybody. Oops.
“Broken in Two” is about a relationship breaking and I am sure we can all relate to that one at some point in our lives. This track has nice melodic touches and also builds atmosphere, particularly half way through when the band play low and get louder and louder. This will surely be a crowd pleaser in the live environment.
Final track of the EP, “Get Away”, is again another good rock tune with classic metal riffage in the vein of Iron Maiden, but Viral Strain have their own sound as well to add to the mix. I find this song to be the one for the head bangers among us who understand the power of the riff and with the rhythm section providing the excuse to mosh along, you can’t resist in doing so.
Overall, you get fifteen minutes of pleasing hard rock and metal tunes from a band very much in its infancy. This should please those of you who like their hard rock and classic heavy metal with a youthful edge. If Viral Strain can keep the line up together and the momentum of recording new material on a regular basis, keep touring and gaining new fans, then things are on the up for them.
Four Walls is out now