Virgin Black
Requiem - Fortissimo


3.5
great

Review

by Tyler Munro EMERITUS
May 17th, 2008 | 48 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Surprisingly solid doom metal.

Before listening to Virgin Black’s latest release, I made note of a few things. Firstly, the band’s name is absolutely ridiculous. Secondly, Requiem – Fortissimo is a stupid title. Thirdly, it’s impossible not to laugh upon noticing the words “Requiem in G Minor” spread across the back cover. And so before we begin, I have only on thing to say to the members of Virgin Black: you are a metal band, get over yourselves.

As the title implies, Requiem – Fortissimo is both loud and part of a series, in this case it’s the second release but third album in the group’s Requiem trilogy. Regardless, Fortissimo is endlessly better than I expected. Rather than bludgeoning the listener with an over-the-top barrage of “gothic/symphonic” theatrics, Virgin Black actually managed to craft a relatively straightforward and therefore effective blend of death-infused doom metal, not unlike cited influences My Dying Bride.

“The Fragile Breath” kicks things off in a misleadingly high gear before its formidable crunch brings things to a Sabbath’ian halt. While the song plods alongside suffocating growls, it wastes no time indicating that the album is not without subtle variation, as it takes under two minutes for the operatic soprano vocals of Susan Johnson to enter the picture. The group’s apparent “gothic/symphonic” influence is also introduced sooner rather than later, introducing choirs and stringed instruments seemingly at will, perhaps in an effort to set the pace for an album that sadly feels longer than it is. The key with all of this is that, cellos and choirs and operatic vocals aside, the album never strays too far from the path, always interspersing each outside influence within it’s undeniably death-doom package. “In Winter’s Ash” ups the stake, adding a new sense of bombast found in the accented notes that plod along at a pace that feels slower than it should be, yet somehow just right. While it’s perhaps the most densely arranged track, layering Susan Johnson’s operatics two to three times over, it’s also the most simplistically executed, surviving entirely on a lowly 1, 2 guitar crunch and snail’s-paced lead.

With “Silent”, the band doubles up the bass drum and speeds things up a bit, only to piss the listener off with a few instances of horns that are neither necessary nor enjoyable. Though it saves itself with its wavering leads, it also hints at the band’s reliance on fallbacks. Throughout the album, Virgin Black teeters on excess and oftentimes relies on operatic vocals or a sudden lead to rope the listener back. And, with this, Susan’s otherwise enjoyable vocals become tiresome and repetitive, seemingly reusing the very same melody over and over, making her impact less distinguished and more forced. “Silent” is important to note because it highlights both the positives and the negatives found on Fortissimo. While it throws a welcomed curveball by playing with the tempo, it ultimately relies on tricks to wrap it back into its death-doom shell.

Ultimately, Fortissimo is more than solid. Typically plodding alongside sentiments of melancholy and death, the album survives on its moody atmosphere. Rowan London’s vocals carry a sense of hopeless duality, acting positively at delivering a sense of misery but failing to actually sound good. Rowan could by all accounts do worse, but the hollow and seemingly layered fashion in which his vocals are presented do more to swallow the instruments than they do to compliment them. This is made explicit in the mostly awful “Lacrimosa”, a choir-plagued disaster of an interlude. Luckily, Rowan’s effective use of the piano saves his name, and excellently compliments Samantha’s one-woman string section; her guitar acting as a violin alongside her cello playing. While the bass is felt more than heard, it does a more than adequate job at laying on the chunk, playing up the album’s dynamic title. The drums are solid, nothing more, nothing less.

Fortissimo goes above and beyond what I expected. Though the title implies laborious classical influences and excruciating egotism, Virgin Black manage to craft an effective death-infused doom metal album, one that lends itself to obvious comparisons but sets itself apart with its subtleties. Though at times it falls into an obvious comfort zone, Fortissimo survives on its conventions, hammering the listener (almost to death) with feelings of sorrow and misery.



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user ratings (39)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Tyler
Emeritus
March 5th 2008


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Wrote this up really, really fast because it had to get done. If there's any glaring faults let me know, otherwise, eat me. Thanks.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
March 5th 2008


17939 Comments


i will take you up on the eating offer

BallsToTheWall
March 5th 2008


44785 Comments


Lacrimosa isn't a played out name out in this style of music or anything. First songs I heard from this band were from this album and they ruled. I'll get this soon enough. Review is good.

Digging: Pink Turns Blue - If Two Worlds Kiss

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
March 5th 2008


3776 Comments


Elegant and Dying really didn't do anything for me, should I try this anyway?

Tyler
Emeritus
March 5th 2008


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is all I've heard from the band. The track on this page/their profile should give you a good idea.

hermitspancho
March 5th 2008


278 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

they are streaming this on mp3.com

Shattered_Future
March 5th 2008


1541 Comments


Never liked this band.

Tyler
Emeritus
March 5th 2008


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I like this album but I have zero urge to check anything else they've done. I donno Shattered this sounds like something you might like.

Eliminator
March 5th 2008


2067 Comments


yo solid review

Wizard
March 5th 2008


19607 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

For a review that was written up this fast, its really well done. Excellent review Cocaine. This doesn't sound very appealing to me but I'll give it a shot anyways.

I have only on thing to say


one*

The song Silent on this page is actaully really good. The female vocals are a nice little touch as well. This Message Edited On 03.05.08

Digging: Full Of Hell & Merzbow - Full Of Hell & Merzbow

rasputin
March 5th 2008


14555 Comments


For a review that was written up this fast, its really well done.

He isn't staff for nothing.

beans
March 5th 2008


2332 Comments


wow these guys sound really good, i only heard the one song which was the fragile breath and i thoroughly enjoyed it so ill be checking the rest of this album

Pebster49
March 6th 2008


2993 Comments


Death Doom ftw!

Tyler
Emeritus
March 6th 2008


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Regular doom is better. I'd much rather have had an average singer over this guy's growls.

asdemonsburn
March 6th 2008


793 Comments


I rememeber hearing them awhile ago, the growls gave me a headache they were so bad.

rasputin
March 6th 2008


14555 Comments


Coke would you say these guys are better than Swallow the Sun, or worse?

Tyler
Emeritus
March 6th 2008


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I enjoy this more than I enjoy anything Swallow the Sun has done but I havent heard these guys other albums and I think Swallow the Sun is painfully mediocre. Like I said, just listen to the sample track above.

rasputin
March 6th 2008


14555 Comments


oop missed that, will listen now.

Altmer
March 6th 2008


5652 Comments


Heard an earlier album, don't care too much for this sort of thing. Plus they are a self-professed Christian band and that nauseates me.

publicastration
March 6th 2008


57 Comments


No they are bloody well not.

I believe most (or maybe all) of the members are Christians, but it is not a "Christian band" by any means.

They are legitimate musicians, and damn good ones in my opinion.

Also, no one can stress it enough that this album is COMPLETELY different from their other work. So if you didn't like their previous material, you still might like this.



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