April 16, 2008

Virgin Black - Requiem - Mezzo Forte

Artist: Virgin Black
Album: Requiem - Mezzo Forte
Year: 2007
Genre:Symphonic metal,
Country: Australia

Virgin Black is an Australian band that combines gothic-doom and symphonic metal influences. The group has released three full-length albums, with another two due for release in 2007. While members of Virgin Black have Christian beliefs, the band has often sought to explain that its music is an exploration of spirituality and attempts to highlight the difference between the Church and the spiritual aspects of Christianity. The group explains the meaning of its name as "the juxtaposition of purity and humanity's darkness".

"Breathtaking". That's the only way I can think to start this review. I've used that word to describe music before, but never really in a literal sense. Virgin Black's newest epic masterpiece, "Requiem – Mezzo Forte", is just that... breathtaking. This album is what I believe to be one of the most important releases in metal (and perhaps all of music) in the past decade. And I can honestly say, when I first heard it, I didn't breath for about 20 seconds. This work of art truly is breathtaking.

Simply put, this album is 52 minutes of gothic beauty. This album is a gorgeous meeting of metal and orchestral music. It features the music of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, whose depressing mournful sound bleeds perfectly together with VB's harsher metal element. Some sections are all symphonic, while others are pure metal, but the two shining together simultaneously is what really makes this album so special.

The vocals on this album really are top-notch. Rowan London's tenor voice sounds better then ever. And when he's not singing with his amazing full-voice, he is growling with his guttural death metal vocals. While his growls are extremely rough, they don't come across as violent, but rather desperate and grief-stricken. Virgin Black has also added Susan Johnson as a soprano vocalist. This woman is capable of not only reaching amazing range of high notes, but also conveying awe-inspiring amounts of sorrowful emotion with her voice. This album also features a large amount of choir vocals. From a strong majestic choir, to a dark sounding choir whose style almost sound like Gregorian chants, to a death choir. That's right, A FREAKIN' DEATH CHOIR; a group of death metal vocalist growling in choir fashion… a truly breathtaking sound to behold.

Virgin Black's guitarist, Samantha Escarbe, is truly amazing on this album. From her lamentful soaring melodies, to her crushing metal riffs on "In Death" and "Domine"… she's got it all.

Requiem is a concept album, following the concept of an actual funeral mass for the dead. Because of this, the lyrics on this album are by far Virgin Black's darkest. It's basically a sorrowful 52 minute lament to God. It's hard to believe anyone with a soul could listen to this music and not be emotionally affected by such depressing lyrics.

Another thing I love about this album is the inter-album references. ie. small phrases are repeated subtly throughout the album. This is a reference to how "classical" music develops its themes. This creates the effect that the album is one piece of music, rather then individual tracks. Another example would be the final track Rest Eternal, which is basically a stunning reprise of the first track with added guitars to create a grand and epic closure to the album.

Perhaps one of the greatest things about this album is that it is part of a trilogy. So I still two more pieces of art in this vein to look forward to. If they are half as breathtaking as this album, they will instantly be in my top-ten. Virgin Black is definitely one of the most important bands in all of music. I could go on and on about how much I love this album, but I think I'll just end it here.
In conclusion: If you ever buy another CD in your life, buy "Requiem – Mezzo Forte" by Virgin Black. It really is breathtaking.(metal-archives.com-by DemonOfTheFall27)


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