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Virgin Black: Requiem - Mezzo Forte

Requiem:
- A mass for the dead
- A solemn chant (as a dirge) for the repose of the dead
- Something that resembles such a solemn chant
- A musical setting of the mass for the dead
- A musical composition in honor of the dead

(Merriam-Webster)

So imagine that My Dying Bride went to the opera, and came home and wrote a requiem - and you'd have a good idea of what to expect.

This album is an even split between pure orchestral music and a dark, doomy form of gothic metal. The sludge-slow tones and the morbid vocals are offset occasionally by very elegant orchestral sounds - courtesy of the The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra - and the rich male and female choirs. Listen for Samantha Escarbe's prominent lead guitar and cello work - for example opening track "Requiem, Kyrie" starts with alternating lines of mournful, deep cello tones, and the male choir's introspective Gregorian-styled chant - then enter the lead (female) singer in a rich, operatic contralto (or is it a mezzo?) over the heavy cello line and a very measured percussion - and a male singer is slowly introduced ... get the idea? It's symphonic, it's very deliberate, it's very elegant, and it's exactly the solemn kind of music you'd expect to hear at a funeral.

There are odd, angular melodies at some points, the choirs are often the focal point of the music, and listen for the strong, slow lead guitar in "Lacrimosa (I Am Blind With Weeping)" and in the 11-minute mini epic "...And I am Suffering" - which is the standout piece on the album.

Virgin Black recorded three albums at the same time - Requiem - Pianissimo which is entirely classical; Requiem - Mezzo Forte - this album, which is a classical / metal crossover, and Requiem - Fortissimo - a heavy death / doom metal piece. Despite the big differences among them, they all borrow themes from one another and progress in a musically linear path from classical to extreme metal, yielding a trilogy that ought to be collected in its entirety.

Virgin Black isn't as progressive or as quirky as some of The End Records' more avant-oriented acts - but Requiem - Mezzo Forte is refreshingly different and very listenable - for as long as you can handle the gloomy tones of a requiem.

Track Listing:
1 Requiem, Kyrie
2 In Death
3 Midnight's Hymn
4 …And I am Suffering
5 Domine
6 Lacrimosa (I Am Blind With Weeping)
7 Rest Eternal

Added: March 12th 2007
Reviewer: Duncan Glenday
Score:
Related Link: The Band's Website
Hits: 2910
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Virgin Black: Requiem - Mezzo Forte
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-03-13 10:32:47
My Score:

Doom gloom, more doom, and even more gloom. Requiem-Mezzo Forte is the latest from Virgin Black, a musical funeral march or deep depair and stark grief. While the mountains of operatic moments are quite classy and well done, there's just a built in feeling of desperation and depression here that's one step away from a suicide chamber. Taking their cue from early My Dying Bride and even Saviour Machine, Virgin Black combine dark classical music with doom metal like no other band, and yes, it's bound to be an acquired taste, but once you have accepted this collection of operatic funeral dirges, you'll find plenty to dig into here. With seven long tracks featuring long orchestral passages, a myriad of various vocal styles, and plenty of non-metal instruments, Requiem is a varied smorgasbord to say the least. For some, it might be best to skip some of the morose tracks and fast forward to the savage doom of "Domine", complete with thundering Sabbath-styled riffs and evil growls. Others who appreciate the non-metal aspects of this CD will love the soaring vocals, classical-meets-prog instrumental passages, and chants of pieces like "Requiem, Kyrie" and "Midnight's Hymn". All these elements come together quite nicely on the epic "Lacrimosa (I am Blind With Weeping)", featuring high pitched vocals, choirs, crushing guitar riffs, and symphonic arrangments. Candlemass on qualludes? You be the judge.

Overall, this is not an easy listen by any stretch of the imagination, and a complete 180 degree turn from most of the bands on the roster of The End Records, but Virgin Black are sure to find plenty of takers for their brand of classical doom metal.



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