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Virgin Black - Requiem - Fortissimo CD (album) cover


Virgin Black

Experimental/Post Metal

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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Reviewed for Sonic Frontiers at and kindly approved for re-posting in PA

Virgin Black is still Black but no longer Virgin.

A promising first few seconds in this album made my heart rush. It starts with a bang, but then it recedes to Doom/Death metal realms. Early My Dying Bride comes to mind as a reference point (and all other imitators and practitioners of this style). But alas, Virgin Black have shed away here all that makes them special and have released a bland doom/death metal album at times bordering on the Funeral Doom style. A band I admire and love every release of theirs have released an album I don't like and which is a disappointment to me. The album has a few of the orchestra,operatic vocals and choir background vocals left but nothing of the special traits that made Virgin Black noticeable and distinguishable from other bands. Had I not known this is a Virgin Black album, I could be fooled to believe it is by some other Doom metal band. I understand that this was supposed to be their heaviest album of the trilogy but not only this is not what I was expecting (so lets leave my disappointment aside), this goes quite a long way from the Virgin Black style and sound. There are the familiar riffs and recognizable patterns (like in the beginning of In Winter's Ash) but other than that, I can't find much of the band I love and look up to.

It's not all bad or bland, but it is mostly not thrilling or has the quality I find in previous VB albums. One track that is quite good and does give me hope they have not abandoned their roots is Silent which does manage to combine their "usual" characteristics with the more brutal and heavy aspect of this album (with a glance at a musical line from the Mezzo Forte album). God In Dust is another decent track However with the other five tracks, there is the issue of not giving each track enough identity and differentiating them from the others, aside from the absence of the VB style. But all in all, there is too much of a "samey" feel in this album as I feel as if the music is repeated and rehashed.

Bottom line - I'm disappointed with this release and can't recommend to other Virgin Black fans like me. I can recommend it to folks into Doom/Death/Funeral Doom Metal and even then, it's not that good or impressive an album, but not a bad one in itself. Most of what makes Virgin Black unique is absent here. The bleakness is still here, but the magic is gone. I hope that the third and last installment in this Requiem trilogy will not disappoint me like this. The 3 stars is more to say that it's an ok release in itself, but as far as Virgin Black standards, this is a step down.

Report this review (#157021)
Posted Saturday, December 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
2 stars 'Requiem Fortissimo' - Virgin Black (3/10)

While it might not be the most inspiring word-of-mouth introduction for a band to hear your friend tell you to give 'one of the worst albums he has ever listened to' a try, but as always, music is a very subjective experience and I like to treat it as such. While there are aspects of music that appeal to a majority of people, there will always be pieces of music that some may hate, and others love depending on their outlook and ear.

'Requiem Fortissimo' may well be one of those albums that could be perceived as a total masterpiece by one with an ear attuned enough to doom metal to appreciate it. While I have dabbled in the realm of doom before (from the likes of early Anathema and Katatonia to Shades Of Despair and Draconian) I've been able to see real beauty in some of the music the genre spits out, but above anything, its a real hit-or-miss deal. If something doesn't work, it really won't work. 'Requiem' definately had alot of thought put into it, but in the end; a few shortcomings in the work truly mar what might have been a landmark doom record.

When I speak of the 'thought' and effort put into the making of it, its important to know that the band went as far as to enlist the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra (generally perceived to be Austrailia's flagship philharmonic) and choral sections to add to the sound. While this does certainly make 'Requiem' a much more worthy venture than other albums I've listened to, the rest of the mix hurts the orchestration alot. The guitar riffs are generally unimaginative save for a few precious arrangements, and the growl vocals are truly atrocious. While there are a few soprano operatic sections, and parts where the orchestra has room to breathe, these sections frankly aren't worth going through all of the monotonous guitar drone and grunting to get to them.

While it might be a suitable backdrop for a wintery, frostbitten evening, this depressing and dissapointing opus from Virgin Black will not appeal to many outside of the doom metal circle. I for one, can find stuff to appreciate here, and it's certainly not the worst album I've ever heard, but I would much rather delve into a more fulfilling record then this; as there are plenty out there that trump over this one.

Report this review (#263855)
Posted Tuesday, February 2, 2010 | Review Permalink

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