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Virgin Black - Trance CD (album) cover

TRANCE

Virgin Black

 

Experimental/Post Metal

3.09 | 4 ratings

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TCat
3 stars Virgin Black's first studio recording "Trance" was this 3-track CD released in 1998, three years before their first studio album. As far as I know, these tracks have not been made available anywhere else. This EP was a good indication that this was going to be a band willing to go new places and that would stretch the boundaries of dark, gothic, post-metal.

Starting with "Opera de Trance", we get an ominous repeating piano riff surrounded by an almost trance-like percussion. At first you are questioning whether this is actually metal of any kind, until the heavy guitars explode on the scene with drums more fitted for metal. Vocals somewhere between whispering and growling start out on the verses and an operatic bridge will surprise at first. The track, however, quickly ends as it started.

That track seques almost immediately into the heavier "A Saint is Weeping". The vocals on this one are more of a spoken word with that operatic voice on the short chorus. The guitar riff is enough to get the heart pounding though, and soon, it changes to a more complex progressive metal solo. The vocals might take a little getting used to at first, but they are not that bad, and the slight growl is not annoying. But it's the instrumental breaks that show that this band is a few steps above the bar for goth music, even though there is that atmosphere to all of their music.

Last of all is the 7+ minute "Whispers of Dead Sisters". The vocals here are somewhere between a melodious Gregorian monk and the off-key operatic attitude, it fits the goth label well, but the music is done much better. This track is a slower beat and has very solid progressive metal leanings. After a while, the track becomes a bit softer with a lovely piano accompaniment to a more sensitive vocal. After a minute or so, the guitars join in again. Later, a quick bass line brings in a more intense dynamic and faster tempo as it builds in tension. As the frantic singing continues, there is an ominous whispering going on behind it. Suddenly, the intensity drops and there is a single synth playing an oboe effect while a minimal bass hold it together, then whispering starts again. Then a final guitar solo churns along to the slower tempo to close out the track.

This EP is much too short, but it is a great introduction to the band's music. It will leave you wanting more, mostly because of the excellent guitar work and piano work on the softer passages. The vocals are the hardest part to swallow, but they will get better, and once you get used to the frantic operatic style, you won't mind them so much because everything else is stellar. The big problem is, the CD is going for $55 on amazon, so I would imagine it is best to get one of the albums first and patiently search for a bargain on the EP. 3 stars because it is too short, but the music is great.

TCat | 3/5 |

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