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Virgin Black - Elegant... and Dying CD (album) cover

ELEGANT... AND DYING

Virgin Black

 

Experimental/Post Metal

3.74 | 19 ratings

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TCat
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.

TCat | 4/5 |

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