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Virgin Black: Requiem Fortissimo

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 extremes.

Pure goth.

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 entirety.

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.

Track Listing:
1. The Fragile Breath
2. In Winters Ash
3. Silent
4. God In Dust
5. Lacrimosa (Gather Me)
6. Darkness
7. Forever

Added: December 23rd 2007
Reviewer: Duncan Glenday
Related Link: The Band's Website
Hits: 2176
Language: english

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