Hailing from Buffalo, New York, Turning Virtue are a progressive quartet made up of David Karczewski on vocals, guitar, and keyboards, DPA on bass, Carl Cino on guitar and Mark Zonder on drums. For their newest release they called in some big names, with mixing engineer Tim Palmer (who has worked with Porcupine Tree, David Bowie and U2) and Andy VanDette (Rush, Dream Theater) being enlisted to help the project shine. “A Human Temporary Experience” was released on April 8th 2016.
The first track is entitled “Transcend”. Opening with percussion and vocals that are soon joined by the rest of the ensemble. The first thing that crosses my mind is how lush and rich everything sounds. There are multiple sonic layers with double tracked vocals, extra percussion and subtle acoustic guitars hidden beneath distorted guitars and bass which really breathes a lot of life into the music.
The second tune is “These Things”, which is a much softer track. Led by acoustic guitars and soft vocals I have to say I wasn’t expecting to hear something like this on this album. The lead guitar work here is great but other than that there’s not a lot that stands out here.
The fourth track “Random” is a slow brooding track with dreamy chords pedalling the music along. At times it’s vaguely psychedelic, but it also has a looming sense of dread which is provided by the pounding drums and the distorted lead guitar that weaves in and out during the song. The song warps into something completely different for the last couple of seconds, fading out and back in as a gothic bossa-nova sort of thing, making for a very cool twist.
“Fall In Love With The World” takes things up a notch, taking a modern rock approach to things. Unfortunately, similarly to other tracks on the album, it comes across as a bit by the numbers, with very little to help distinguish it from the droves of other modern prog rock bands.
The seventh tune, “Theody” opens with heavily distorted guitar chords over a sample of a speech before kicking into the verse. The tune itself treads the fine line between hard rock and metal, dipping between the two with a good sense of dynamics. Karczewski’s vocals here sound quite like Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine at times, giving them a marmite like quality.
“What’s True” is another hard rocker, with a bit of an 80’s rock/metal feel to it. The highlight of the tune definitely comes in the blistering guitar solo in the outro, which is one of the many examples of the great guitar work that can be found throughout the album.
The final number is “Salty Tears”, which opens with a guitar duet of sorts. This twelve minute track has some great dynamics and certain sections are entertaining but it suffers the same issues as a lot of the other tracks on the album in that it doesn’t really grab the listeners attention.
“A Temporary Human” experience has some moments were it really shines, but often times these moments are lost in a sea of duller points that take away from the highs. The band are definitely talented, with the lead guitar work and drumming standing out in particular but I don’t think this was a band ready to bring out an album, perhaps an EP was better suited for what they were looking to do.