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ELEGANT... AND DYING

Virgin Black

Experimental/Post Metal


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Virgin Black Elegant... and Dying album cover
3.74 | 18 ratings | 4 reviews | 6% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2003

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Adorned In Ashes (6:18)
2. Velvet Tongue (8:03)
3. And The Kiss Of God's Mouth (Part 1) (1:26)
4. And The Kiss Of God's Mouth (Part 2) (6:19)
5. Renaissance (7:02)
6. The Everlasting (17:13)
7. Cult Of Crucifixion (9:03)
8. Beloved (7:27)
9. Our Wings Are Burning (8:26)


Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Rowan London / vocals, piano, keyboards, choir vocals
- Samantha Escarbe / lead guitar, cello, choir vocals
- Dino Cielo / drums, choir vocals
- Craig Edis / guitars, vocals
- Ian Miller / bass, choir vocals
Bass tracks recorded by Aaron Nicholls

Guests:
- Sonia Wilkie / flute
- Brad Bessel, Stephanie Bessel. Terella Rosen, Camren Harm / choir vocals

Releases information

The End Records, TE037

Thanks to avestin for the addition
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The End Records 2003
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VIRGIN BLACK Elegant... and Dying ratings distribution


3.74
(18 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(6%)
6%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(67%)
67%
Good, but non-essential (22%)
22%
Collectors/fans only (6%)
6%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

VIRGIN BLACK Elegant... and Dying reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by avestin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It's autumn 2004. Late at night while everyone is asleep I am still awake. Thoughts keep filling my head; worry and distress keep me up. So I decide to put a record on; one that would fit my current mood and perhaps alleviate some of the pain. Some people would put on uplifting music, an album they know and that always puts a smile on their face.

Not being my way, I put on an album that is as dark as was my (then) current state of mind. Elegant? And Dying, the second full-length album by the Australian doom/gothic metal band Virgin Black fits perfectly. The music resonates with grief and agony. The intensity of angst and heartache is overwhelming here. The saw-like riffs of the guitar cut through the silence of the night. The tormented voice of Rowan London, the main writer along with guitarist and cellist, Samantha Escarbe, is a guiding light amidst the sea of pain oozing from their music. Going from low to higher pitches, from soft singing to anguish filled tones to angry and frustrated cries, he thus achieves a wide range of sentiments and sensations (though mostly of the dark and melancholic kind). His voice personifies the entire emotions the music creates and that the lyrics tell about. Words about love and religion, loss and desertion, suffering and desire, despair and betrayal; but most of all, hope. Yes, it seems odd, but hope is in here, quite revealed in the text; the yearning to amend things, to improve life, aspiring for a change, the need to make things better.

You should not expect songs, not a usual path of music writing but a depiction of a human state of mind, a mind in extreme conditions, on the edge of sanity, the brink of collapse. And yet the music is beautiful, despite whatever mood it reflects and regardless of how odd it may sound at times, as the band is not timid of going into unconventional musical landscapes. Yes the music takes the form of doom and gothic metal, but the outcome is beyond that, for me. It is the emotional connection perhaps, but to my ears (or more exactly, brain) the end product here is has high impact with its beauty, intensity, intricacy and emotional characteristic. There is variety here, though it may elude some. A mellow and quiet approach, say with keyboards or piano alongside the choir is substituted for an abrupt aggressive sounding guitar lead segment and intense (mostly slow) drumming. Velvet Tongue is a fine example for their shifting directions and emotional surges. Their more "experimental" and out-there moments are also fascinating. As an example, the long song, The Everlasting, is an eerie and peculiar piece, very spooky when listened to late at night in the dark and very appropriate as well. It could fit very well in old black and white mystery or horror movies. There is a tremendous sense of gloom and despair but of power as well that emanates from the music here. The song goes from an abstract form to more a constructed sense and follows with the full band joining in full force later on in a brutal (in Virgin Black standards) aural assault and driving guitar riff and drumming. In fact this is the best song to hear what drummer Dino Cielo is capable of. It is also a fine example of how much anger lurks in the core of their music, in the back of their minds. This is an outcome of frustration, of being suffocated emotionally and spiritually. All the buried anger bursts out explosively, and the music here depicts it beautifully.

The songs are mostly linked or at least flowing naturally from one to the other and this way form, as I hear it, an uninterrupted course that makes this album one long piece that is divided into several sections. Not that it's impossible to listen to individual songs, but I prefer mostly to listen to it in its entirety and don't pay too much attention to what song I listen to at a particular moment.

This is an album for those who ache but want a way out, a way to relieve themselves from pain; an album for those who would like to hear a different take on doom metal, an exploratory form that puts high emphasis on the emotional side of composing. A perfect companion in late winter nights, with a hot beverage in hand.

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Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
3 stars Virgin Black's second album is a 75 minute opus that should suppress any remaining doubts that they mean business. Big epic melodramatic business.

The result is still very satisfying but it's become a less versatile album then the debut. It is quieter and more coherent but only seems to explore its dramatic Goth potential. The metal and progressive sides of the music have become less prominent. As it turned out, alternating metal-styled albums with more laid-back material turned out to be something of a career choice for Virgin Black, quite similar to the US Goth metallists of Christian Death, who must have been an obvious point of inspiration.

There are great pieces of music where looming doom-riffs and spacey blues guitar leads provide memorable moments as on The Kiss of God's Mouth and Cult of Crucifixion. But with only one mood to sustain for 75 minutes, the album is too long. The operatic 20 minute musical drama of Everlasting goes entirely over all bombastic peaks reached by other Goth bands before them. Quite an achievement that is. I'm not too impressed by the music but still it's more attractive then Hammill's House of Usher for example. At least here it sounds really spooky and chilling.

Virgin Black is a great band with more talent then 20 random Goth bands put together. Their inclusion of operatic metal and ambitious drama might sure make them an interesting listen if you're attracted to the idea of progressive Goth rock. To be checked by lovers of Therion, My Dying Bride Type O Negative and Hammill's House of Usher. (That might be an eclectic bunch of people actually) 3.5 stars.

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Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 4.5 stars. It was Avestin's personal review of this album about a year and a half ago that moved me to purchase this record. Assaf has recommended so many bands and albums to me over the years that i've lost track. Yes this is dark and melancholic but it has lots of life to it as well with those distorted guitars and heavy outbreaks all of which reminded me of IN THE WOODS... more than any other band. I really do enjoy this style of music once in a while, I think it's that emotion that cries out of the darkness that moves me. I think anyone who's been on this planet as long as I have knows pain, and I know it very personally.

"Adorned In Ashes" is dark with these choir-like sounds and a beat. Cello and atmosphere follow.The vocals and style here remind me of DEAD CAN DANCE but I can honestly say that this was the only time I thought of them. Piano and a calm late. "Velvet Tongue" has these almost spoken words as a heavy beat joins in. More passionate vocals before 2 1/2 minutes with mournful guitar riffs.The tempo then picks up and he's almost screaming the words at one point. It settles again as contrasts continue. "And The Kiss Of God's Mouth Part 1" is slow moving with keys then some emotional guitar joins in. Whispered words late as it blends into "And The Kiss Of God's Mouth Part 2". It kicks in fairly heavily before calming right down with piano and reserved vocals.The guitar replaces the vocals as it turns more powerful. It kicks in even more before 3 minutes and later at 4 minutes. Love this !

"Renaissance" sounds amazing ! Heavy chanting and riffs to start. It calms down with fragile vocals before 2 minutes.The chanting is back after 4 1/2 minutes and it gets heavier when they stop. "The Everlasting" is the over 17 minute epic. Piano as vocal expressions join in. Atmosphere rules 1 1/2 minutes in as vocal sounds come and go. It's fuller with vocals 4 minutes in. It calm down with piano only before 7 minutes then a beat joins in. It kicks back in before 10 1/2 minutes. Nice.Vocals are back 13 1/2 minutes and he's screaming 15 minutes in, then this beautiful calm takes over and waves of sound ends it. "Cult Of Crucifixion" opens with percussion and angelic sounds. Piano joins in. Guitar and a heavy sound kicks in at 1 1/2 mintes. Vocals before 3 minutes as it settles. It kicks back in a minute later and the vocals are emotional before we get another calm. It's heavy again before 6 minutes then it picks up. "Beloved" is mellow then it kicks in.The vocals cry out. Mournful guitar 5 1/2 minutes in and it's building a minute later. Nice. Growly vocals late are AGALLOCH-like. "Our Wings Are Burning" opens with piano and percussion standing out. Reserved vocals join in. Strummed guitar follows then we get heavy guitars before 3 1/2 minutes. Passionate vocals a minute later. My God ! It settles back again and the guitar solos tastefully.

This might become a five star album for me. It's long at 74 minutes so there's lots to digest but man I love this album.

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Review by TCat
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This is a surprisingly well-done album full of gothic-metal prog done with an almost perfect balance of symphonic prog and progressive metal with just a touch of post-metal. The vocals are amazing with the lead singer belting out operatic type vocals with all types of vocals and a very small sprinkling of harshness, but not over the top. This is probably the first symphonic/operatic metal album I have heard that doesn't sound cheesy most of the way through. Virgin Black achieves believable orchestration that sounds totally in place every time which is something other symphonic metal bands like Savatage has had a hard time achieving.

It is hard to call this a thoroughly metal album though because there are so many dynamic differences in each track that you never get tired of any sound, except for maybe the first half of the epic 17 minute track "The Everlasting" which tends to drag a bit. But that is a very small problem as there are a lot of epic tracks on this album that are so well composed. This album is not a complete wall of metal either. The vocals, for the most part, are amazing, the musicianship is excellent and there is such a variety of sound and surprises here that it seldom gets boring. Heavy guitar is prominent in places and in others there is some beautiful piano and other acoustics. There are sudden changes in sound at times and other times it's gradual, but it is always well orchestrated and always cohesive. It is not choppy like many other albums where bands try to achieve this sound.

There are a few times the vocals can be slightly cheesy, but not too often. But the lead vocalist also shares a lot of time with a very dark choir giving the music a classical feel which also fits so well with the symphonic aspects of the album. The balance, like I said earlier, is perfect. The songs are mostly dark, but the rhythm is varied so that everything on here is not just a funeral- sounding dirge like many would be afraid to hear by a gothic band. Instead, there is some of that, but there are also fast passages and truly beautiful passages. The sound is somewhat similar to that of Agalloch, but with less growly vocals and better singing. The acoustics though are more pointed towards keyboards than guitars though and that is one difference. The overall feel is more gothic than folk which is another difference. The sound on this album is more theatrical than Agalloch also.

I have to admit that this a lot better than I expected. The compositional quality, the balance of sounds and styles, the great mix of loud and soft (dynamics), the addition of choir vocals, killer hooks and beautiful passages; all of this makes for a quality album which would be an excellent addition to any prog rock collection. The best thing about it all is that there is a perfect balance of moods and styles here. A lot of metal purists might not like the fact that the heaviness of the album is shared so evenly with the softer parts of the album, they tend to like the loud headbanging sound to be more prevalent on an album. But for me, I love both sounds especially when it is balanced so well. Surprisingly well done.

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