This is a real "beauty and the beast" album. Within the first 2 minutes
you'll hear deep doom metal growling, contrasted with an angelic soprano, and
that contrast permeates the whole record. It's doom metal with a darkness
and melancholy reminiscent of My Dying Bride, yet the wonderful female vocals and
the sweet sounds of orchestral music starkly emphasizes those two tonal
This isn't just any old doom or gothic or beauty and the beast stuff, though.
Virgin Black blends the discipline of classical music, the sophistication of
progressive or art rock, and the brutality of extreme metal to deliver a
thoughtful, well written album that will stand out among others in its genre.
But you'd better appreciate the genre - because this music isn't for everyone.
You'll have to understand the slow melodicism of doom metal, and you can't be
turned off by growling vocals. The instrumentation is predominantly driven by
Samantha Escarbe's slow-as-sludge minor-key power chords played on powerfully
distorted, detuned guitars. Add the the choirs of clean male vocals, the very
deliberate pacing offset by occasional double-bass attacks, the purity of
Adelaide Symphonic Orchestra and the rich texture of operatic sopranos, and you
have a wonderful blend of tones that are at once disturbing and relaxing.
Virgin Black spent over a year and recorded three albums at the same time:
Requiem - Pianissimo will be entirely classical; Requiem - Mezzo Forte
- released in early 2007 was a classical / metal crossover, and this album - is
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
It's a clever idea that you'd be inclined to expect from a Nordic act - but
Virgin Black is the brainchild of Australian singer/keyboardist Rowan London,
whose songwriting skills and powerful vocals define this album. It's a
relatively short piece at just 44 minutes, with 7 tracks averaging over 6
minutes. Themes from
Requiem - Mezzo Forte are reprised here - listen to "Silent" for a good
example - although it's clearly a very different record. It's less orchestral,
more metallic, darker, and clearly the band's heaviest, darkest work to date.
Interesting. Disturbing. Recommended.
1. The Fragile Breath
2. In Winters Ash
4. God In Dust
5. Lacrimosa (Gather Me)