Band Name: Virgin Black
Album Name: Requiem - Mezzo Forte
Rating: 2.5 / 5 User Rating: 0 / 5
Label: The End Records
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1. Requiem, Kyrie
2. In Death
3. Midnight's Hymn
4. ...And I am Suffering
6. Lacrimosa (I am Blind With Weeping)
7. Rest Eternal
As “Mezzo Forte” gets underway, it becomes clear that Virgin Black is much more interested in chamber music than doom metal these days. At any rate, the starkly symphonic sounds of this album are musically related to doom in terms of somber appeal and depressive majesty, but so much of this record is without any sort of guitar, distorted or otherwise, that it is simply not valid to call this a metal album. In all essence, these pieces are classical music, for the most part, beautifully performed, but the guitar is virtually non-existent on the entire record.|
Intended to be the front bookend of a trilogy of records, it would be safe to say that we will be hearing a great deal more guitar on the second installment, which should naturally be a darker record. Whether or not that is the case remains to be seen. It's easy to envision most of this music being quite popular on some National Public Radio programs, “…And I Am Suffering” and “Domine” have enough of an distortion to bring about metal comparisons.
Cellist and Lead Guitarist Samantha Escarbe stands out and not simply because she's the female ambassador of Virgin Black. She is a magnificent cellist, her playing adding warmth and sophistication to the recording. Her guitar work is focused on emphasizing existing melody lines for the most part, but on the Cello, she is an above-average talent. Mark Kelson also joins in on the album as a session guitarist, his performance adding considerable heft to the more dramatic crescendos to be found on “Mezzo Forte.” Band leader Rowan London offers a wide array of highly-trained vocalizations and often becomes the focus when playing a melody on piano or keys. His interjections create a lot of texture and are largely responsible for the massive sound the group often moves toward.
“Mezzo Forte” is too focused on classical music to be considered as metal. Only a small percentage of listeners will be able to wrap their ears around a completely different style and to lead anyone to believe this record could be classified as doom metal would be a great mistake. The End Records must be acknowledged for its willingness to produce such a diverse and highly artistic stable of titles, however often times, as is the case with “Mezzo Forte,” such diversion is simply too far out into other musical territories. When a band drifts this deeply into a totally different sort of musical style, it's not as groundbreaking as some may lead you to believe. In the final analysis, this record is neither a groundbreaking metal record, nor is it a masterful classical record and each of these points is keeping Virgin Black from realizing its true potential.
Review by: EF
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