Released By: AFM Records
Release Date: March 26th, 2021
Genre: Melodic Metal
Erica Ohlsson – Vocals
Edwin Premberg – Guitars
Robert Örnesved – Guitars
Robert Mejd – Bass
Lea Larsson – Drums
1. A Virtual World
2. Cloud Connected
4. Beyond the Horizon
6. The Vampire Song
7. We’re Like the Fire
8. Artificial Intelligence
Over the past decade or so, there’s been an increasing rise in metal bands who play a very melodic style that almost edges into pop territory, at times, usually leaning heavily on catchy vocal hooks and lots of cheesy keyboard effects. While bands like Amaranthe and Temperance are my favorite of this emerging style, other bands have come close to reaching them in recent years, with one particular favorite being Swedish melodic metal band Metalite. In a time where many bands are struggling to consistently release new music, due to obvious reasons, Metalite has been very consistent so far, releasing their debut, Heroes of Time in 2017 and their sophomore release Biomechanicals in 2019, with their third album, A Virtual World, now arriving in late March. While I found Biomechanicals to be a big step up from the debut, A Virtual World feels like it doesn’t quite reach the heights of its predecessor, but it’s still a great album in its own right, and sure to please fans of the band and the genre at large.
Not much has changed in between releases, as the band appears to have the same lineup as before, and stylistically they still play the same brand of modern melodic metal as ever, so fans of their music should know exactly what to expect. Newcomers can expect something along the lines of Amaranthe, minus the metalcore elements and male vocals, and with an even larger focus on trance-infused synths. While the band has two guitarists and no keyboardist listed in their lineup, keys are one of the two most important elements of their music, with Erica Ohlsson’s vocals being the other.
Whether or not someone enjoys this album is entirely dependent on whether they like this style of digitized, super hooky, and at times cheesy keyboards that dominate the entire album, as well as whether or not the various choruses and vocal hooks work for them. There is some pretty solid guitar work to be found, particularly in the solos, but there are long stretches where guitars play a very minimal role, and I certainly would never call this a particularly heavy album. For the most part, the songs fall into trance territory, with lots of bouncy keys, super catchy choruses that can sometimes fall into pop territory, and occasional bursts of speedy power metal, just like on their previous albums. The mix is pretty much the same as ever, though I find while the last album, in particular, was pretty much universally amazing with its choruses, this album has some clear winners, as well as some tracks where the choruses just don’t quite hit in the same way. Erica Ohlsson sounds as fantastic as ever, though, her voice being as powerful yet light and super smooth as ever, and her voice fits the music perfectly, just as it did on Biomechanicals. Production is also similar to previous albums, perhaps being a tad overdone at times, but it still sounds quite nice overall. The musicianship is also solid all around, though as mentioned before, the keys are by far the element that stands out the most, perhaps even more so than on previous albums.
As far as songwriting goes, this is a fairly straightforward album, with nothing overly surprising, though there are some definite highlights, as well as some solid tracks, but just don’t quite feel on par with the rest. Everything is enjoyable, though, and I’m sure some of the tracks that don’t work as well for me may work better for other people. The songs are all simple, very melodic, heavily keyboard-driven, and of course, they all have very catchy choruses.
The album opens up strong with the title track, a very fun, upbeat track which is of course led by the keys, though there is some nice melodic guitar work during the chorus, as well as an excellent solo in the second half, Otherwise, it’s a very light, very catchy track with an excellent chorus, and is a great indication of what to expect from the album. Next is “Cloud Connected”, where the keyboards become very bouncy and go heavily into trance territory early on. The verses are fun, moving at a moderate pace, while the chorus speeds up, but I find Ohlsson mumbles her way through the chorus a bit, and the vocal melodies aren’t as strong as usual, so this is one of the tracks that doesn’t fully hit for me. It’s still a solid track, just not a personal favorite. One track that is a favorite is “Talisman”, a slightly heavier, faster-paced track with strong power metal influence, fun verses, a brief but very good guitar solo, and a fantastic chorus, which stands as my favorite on the album. It’s super catchy of course, but it also does a great job of letting Ohlsson show off her vocal range, especially during the final run, where she sounds amazing.
The hits continue with “Beyond the Horizon”, a very light, super catchy track with some of the bounciest keyboards on the whole album. I can certainly see many metalheads being turned off by how cheesy the synths sound here, though I find the main melody infectious, and the chorus is once again excellent, while the verses are slow but solid enough, and overall, it’s another one of my favorites. One of the early release singles was “Peacekeepers”, a solid fast-paced track with some pretty nice guitar work and great verses, as well as a great buildup, but it’s another case where the chorus falls a bit short, in large part due to repetition/redundancy (“Peacekeepers, keepers of peace” is about as redundant as it gets), though it does a have a very nice guitar solo in the second half, and is a fun, high energy track, overall.
One track I can see many metal fans disliking is “The Vampire Song”, perhaps the most pop-influenced track on the album. Right from the super cheesy, pop-infused opening, it’s an attempt at being dark and atmospheric that just doesn’t quite get there, instead of feeling super cheesy. Otherwise, though, it’s actually a great track, largely falling into power ballad territory, with the main keyboard melody being great, and Ohlsson excels during the chorus, which is the highlight of the track. Power metal fans are sure to love “We’re the Fire”, a song that alternates between some mid-paced, super trance-infused verses, and an intense, super speedy chorus, which stands as another highlight. It’s a very energetic, catchy track, with another excellent guitar solo, and it’s one of the most consistently engaging tracks on the album, for sure. Next is “Artificial Intelligence”, a solid mid-paced track, which doesn’t have any particular faults, but I find it never really takes off, either, and is instead merely solid throughout, without anything memorable.
The lone full ballad on the album is “Alone”, a very calm, atmospheric track where the synths serve as a nice, chill backdrop with a warm atmosphere, while the vocals are the main highlight, with Ohlsson shining throughout, especially during the chorus and bridge, while the guitar solo in the second half is very emotional, and is another highlight. Perhaps the most power metal-influenced track on the album is “Running” a very frantic, hard-hitting track which has the heaviest guitar riffs on the entire album during the verses, while the chorus is melodic, but remains extremely fast-paced, with more excellent vocals and synth effects. It’s another personal favorite, and one power metal fans are sure to love it. Closing out the album is “Synchronized” a very light, slower-paced track, where the keyboards are the main focus, once again. I find the verses fairly mediocre, though the chorus and guitar solo is excellent, and the song gets better as it goes along, with first half being a bit weak, while the second half is excellent. It’s a nice way to close out the album, overall.
On their third album, Metalite has their sound fully figured out, and they’re having fun with what they’re doing. As far as their brand of modern melodic metal goes, they’re one of the bands that fall the closest to pop territory, at times, while still having enough of a metal edge to appeal to power metal and melodic metal fans. I find A Virtual World to be a bit inconsistent, but it’s still a great album overall, with plenty of great choruses, synth effects, and excellent vocals throughout. Fans of the band’s previous albums are sure to enjoy this, and anyone looking for some super-light, fun, and catchy melodic metal with a huge emphasis on synths, is recommended to give this a listen. As someone who’s followed the band since the beginning, I’d say this is about on the same level as their debut, and a slight step back from Biomechanicals, but still great overall.
Written by: Travis Green
My Global Mind – Staff Writer
Travis Green is a Canadian based writer for My Global Mind, with a particular passion for power metal, as well as an interest metal in all its forms.