Virgin Black - Requiem - Fortissimo
The End Records
Funeral Doom
7 songs (43'56")
Release year: 2008
The End Records
Reviewed by Alex

I’d spare you all a usual preamble, because if you are initiated into the rites of what is Virgin Black you’d surely recognize that the second installment (3rd part) of the Requiem trilogy is upon us. The fans of the band certainly do not need another reminder of the grandiose project these Aussie Goths have unleashed with Requiem.

Requiem – Fortissimo was promised as the heaviest material Virgin Black has ever written, but one wouldn’t expect the band play straight-ahead death metal … although the opening moments of The Fragile Breath with its rolling drums and fast guitar strumming, as well as the buzzing and drilling guitar lead on Silent would have some confused. It is, of course, commendable that Rowan & Samantha Co. are not afraid to step outside of their usual element, but the goth aficionados making up the most of Virgin Black crowd can rejoice, Fortissimo is not going to be about brutality and blastfest.

True to themselves, the band delivers what they know and profess – somber, pensive, depressive music. Only on Fortissimo they do it without the abundance of symphonic orchestra and plentiful keyboards. The focus, instead, is on projecting the sadness via hitting the very sonic bottom, with lots of dowtuned heavy reverberating guitars and Rowan’s vocals scraping the floor with the hellish gravely tone. It is very tense and foreboding, even with hints of Omen-like horror in In Winter’s Ash or the later half of The Fragile Breath with its horns and bells sounds. Nevertheless, if one makes an effort to strip away the doomdeath façade, to replace the heavy chords with piano, to hear clean Rowan’s croon in place of the growl – they will surely recognize Virgin Black, its melodies and overall approach to gothic metal are everpresent, Fortissimo containing the heaviest band’s moments since Sombre Romantic.

My problem with this album is the same it has been for the last two outputs – amidst the kaleidoscope of sonic collages, it does become a little meandering, whether the style is a genuine gothic symphony (Mezzo Forte) or funereal immersion (Fortissimo). This, plus some extra efforts to bring nastiness to the vocals which makes it gimmicky (God in Dust), has been something which prevented me from enjoying Virgin Black to the fullest … but, then you can also blame it on the certain degree of closemindedness. Brooding or not, I guess, I want my favorite music to bring me to the logical conclusion. In this regard, Virgin Black delivers a colossal monumental Darkness, framed by a couple of reprises Lacrimosa (Gather Me), which connects Fortissimo with Mezzo Forte, and Forever, taking a piano pass on the melodies put forth on Darkness. This 11 min masterpiece is a peak of Virgin Black songwriting on Fortissimo, its multiple parts may be repeating but flowing flawlessly one into another, My Dying Bride classic riffs supported by backup choirs and Samantha’s voice changing over to hammering chords celebrating mass in the middle of the funeral ceremony in a gothic cathedral. This is powerful. And when Rowan says “I am suffering”, it is believable, it does not need gimmicks, just like we all believed Al Pacino screaming “I am in the dark here” on Scent of a Woman.

Strong effort, I think the more devoted fans will find even more to like on Fortissimo than I did. I look forward to Pianissimo, with its classical chamber approach to finish the trilogy strong.

Killing Songs :
Darkness
Alex quoted 82 / 100
Other albums by Virgin Black that we have reviewed:
Virgin Black - Requiem - Mezzo Forte reviewed by Alex and quoted 84 / 100
Virgin Black - Elegant ... And Dying reviewed by Alex and quoted 75 / 100
Virgin Black - Sombre Romantic reviewed by Alex and quoted 72 / 100
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