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Virgin Black - Sombre Romantic CD (album) cover


Virgin Black


Experimental/Post Metal

3.79 | 20 ratings

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Tristan Mulders
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Virgin Black - Sombre Romantic

When I first heard the band name 'Virgin Black' come up in conversation I thought this had to be some sort of gothic metal band with all band members wearing long dresses and corpse paint on their face... An average metal band that 16-year old high school 'metal experts' listen to nowadays (no offence meant to anyone)... And in a way these preconceptions were actually right!

For Virgin Black is indeed a band that could partially be categorized as a gothic metal outfit. Yet that banner would not do enough justification to this bunch of talented musicians, for they go beyond the boundaries of conventional gothic metal.

There's this new wave of (progressive) artists who seem to incorporate classical music into their compositions, think of the likes of Epica, Nightwish and most noticeably Swedish prog metal outfit Therion, but Virgin Black surpasses each and every one of them. Yes, all of them share that longing for operatic vocals, yet Virgin Black's music is not about the bombastic nature of songs. These 5 Australians make music without reaching out to conventional metal... it's not all about heavy metal riffs or pompous drumming... No, Virgin Black seem to enjoy minimalist moments as well, some segments are pure classical or operatic pieces of music, where other moments are pure acoustic brilliance!

Come to think of it, perhaps 'doom metal' would be a more appropriate tag for this branch of music. The dramatic vocals, either operatic or normal singing in low key, don't make the happiest of conditions to listen to music, but they do somehow manage to charm the listener. To give you an idea of what to expect: lead vocalist Rowan London's voice is a sort of compromise of those trademark high-pitched prog metal vocalists and low-key opera vocalists, whereas bass player Ian Miller's additional vocals are pure black metal in origin, i.e. he growls. Yet, his growling is not at all bothersome, mainly because most of the time when he sings, you hear London backing him up with his low and dynamic voice or visa versa.

Musically seen this band made a great debut with this album, but it was not until 2 years later, with the release of the follow-up album "Elegant & Dying", that these musicians found what I consider to be their perfect sound.

Tristan Mulders | 4/5 |


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