10/13/2021: Virtual Riot - SIMULATION EP

Hi everyone, Slipthony Nerdtano here, the internet's procrastinatiest Beat Saber nerd, and it's time for a review of the not quite new Virtual Riot album, Simulation. This is the newest LP from hit Riddim artist Virtual Riot after a 3 year hiatus from music, at least, a hiatus from *good* music, having dropped a passable song in Dream Logic on Disciple Alliance Volume 6 and a series of VIPs ranging from okay to awful in the form of the Head 2 Head EPs with Barely Alive, but now, the so-called "King of Riddim" has returned with a full length LP containing 14 tracks and 2 ambient prologue and epilogue pieces. Does this return to form meet the expectations set by a hiatus of 3 years set since the phenomenal Save Yourself EP?
No. No it does not.
This record ranges wildly in places from being very, *very* good to being laughably bad. Take for example the 11th track on the LP, Fork Funeral. Purported to be a scrapped collab with hit Brostep artist Knife Party, this track is one of the better ones to be found on this LP, acting as more of an experimental piece for VR, bridging into the world of Riddim House, if that is what it is to be called. This whole track is very good, with captivating buildups and truly headbang-worthy drops. I think this track is best described as this LP's "Self Checkout", referencing the Save Yourself EP. but, unfortunately, once this track is finished, it is followed by Back In Time, a track made alongside Angelika, which is one of the most bland, boring, uninteresting sounding tracks on the entire LP, being generic "cutesy" future bass, sounding like something you would expect an artist like Snail's House or anyone on the Monstercat Instinct catalogue to produce. Absolutely not something you would expect to be produced by Virtual Riot.
That isn't to say that a solid majority of the tracks on this LP aren't solid tracks, a lot of the songs on here sound *really* good, like REDLINE, which has an amazing drop reminiscent of something you might find on Virtual Riot's German Engineering EP and a truly headbang-worthy second drop; or Exile, featuring The Kids, A more laid back track with a focus on being more of a sonic experience than something you can headbang to, this track reminds me a lot of the chill mid-EP tracks Infekt is known for, with some very good vocal performance by The Kids, all mixed very well. Or take Neon Angel featuring Lektrique and Leah Culver, one of the best songs on this LP with phenomenal vocals done by Leah Culver who has established herself as one of the best singers in this genre, alongside a very upbeat synthwave-inspired beat followed by a beautiful almost Drum N Bass style drop with some Color Bass elements intertwined in parts and a very clear progression that makes this song definitely one to come back to.
Unfortunately what this LP suffers from most is a solid amount of the songs sounding very very similar. The songs in question I am talking about are Simulation, Chroma, and Rewrite: all three of these tracks sound near identical, to the point where, should this LP be used in a set, these three songs could be used nigh interchangeably. The drops sound almost exactly the same and the intros almost feel copy-pasted between one another in points. One of the tracks that does not suffer from this issue is Dreaming featuring Danyka Nadeau, which, while also being colorbass, sounds distinctly different from the 3 previously mentioned tracks. And of course, Neon Angel also being a phenomenal colorbass-style track does not suffer from this issue.

That is really all I have to say specifically about underlying themes on this LP, so I will go sort of rapid fire through the tracks I didn't cover really quick:
This could be us, pretty good track, almost feels like it has influences from brostep, although I'm not particularly interested in it since it is one of the first singles that got released off this LP
Don't Worry, definitely pretty weird, also a a contendor for the title of "This LP's Self Checkout",
Get Away featuring So Loki, nothing to write home about,
Touhou Riddim, one of the better tracks on this LP, definitely more styled like a track off the Preset Junkies EP from 2018.
In Conclusion, This is a good album, but the amount of songs that just fall flat leave something to be desired with this album and show a concerning trend first started by the Head to Head EP's. This track absolutely does *not* feel like a "return of the king" after the nearly 3 years that have passed since VR's previous release in Save Yourself EP. I give this album a 6 out of 10. The best track on this album was Neon Angel featuring Lektrique and Leah Culver, the worst track was Back in Time featuring Angelika. One can only hope that the trends shown in this LP do not continue.

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