Originally intended to be a trilogy of albums released entirely in 2007, Virgin Black's, 'Requiem - Mezzo Forte' saw release in early-2007 and was the first of this thus far still incomplete threesome.
With this release the band had completely reinvented their sound and in a lot of ways created something that could only be described as neo classical doom/death metal. Largely consisting of breathtaking and often times bombastic orchestral passages and accompanied by male and female operatic singing, a backing choir and some typical doom/death metal heaviness with the occasional low guttural growl too.
All scores within this album were performed by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, which means everything is organic and synthetic free. Each song contains some very beautiful passages too, which often times take on various sentiments. Sometimes I found the music to be simply gorgeous, but at other times it contained darker sinister feelings while at other times the mood seemed quite somber, tragic or just plain mysterious and much to my delight the music often times becomes very epic. Funding such a project must have been a financial nightmare, but one listen to this album and you'll see that it wasn't funds poorly spent.
Band mastermind, Rowan London and a guest soprano singer handle most of the lead singing, which as I previously mentioned is in an operatic manner, especially Rowan’s singing ability has matured greatly since the last album and here he delivers his best performance to date, both operatic and death metal styles. As for the choir the results are quite stunning and its incredible the feeling their backing voices create around the symphony and the metal heaviness.
The doom metal elements although kind of overshadowed by the grandiloquent orchestral parts are still excellent with some really interesting guitar riffs and occasional solos too, and there is plenty of heaviness on this album to entertain the stubborn metal listeners who insist on only listening to metal. In fact I'd say the song, 'Lacrimosa (I Am Blind With Weeping)' is one of the most dismal pieces of music I've ever heard. Between the symphonic sections, choir and doom heaviness you'll experience some of the most calamitous beauty ever recorded.
At fifty two minutes and eight seconds there isn’t one moment on this album that I found to be dull or without brilliance. Each song offers up so much and even after you listen you’ll probably want to listen again since its so dazzling. Really, every last detail is well thought out and executed perfectly and I suppose this explains why the band had been quiet for four years after their previous album, 'Elegant... and dying.' Masterpieces don’t write themselves, no, masterpieces take time and indeed this album reflects that.
In early 2008 the second album in the trilogy, 'Requiem - Fortissimo' was released and was quite interesting since the orchestral and choir parts were considerably reduced and in the end it was more doom/death than the neo classic sound that was represented on this album. Sometime there after the band went on hiatus with, 'Requiem - Pianissimo' still waiting to be released.
Hopefully Virgin Black isn't gone, but even if they are they have at least created something I've cherished for nearly five years now and will certainly continue to adore for many more to come.