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Virgin Black - Requiem - Pianissimo review

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Band: Virgin Black
Album: Requiem - Pianissimo
Release date: November 2018

01. Requiem Aeternum
02. Dies Irae
03. Until Death
04. Kyrie Eleison
05. Libera Eis Domine
06. Lacrimosa (I Tread Alone)
07. Pie Jesu
08. Remembrance

"All is lost but hope" were the last words sang by Rowan London on Virgin Black's sophomore album, released back in 2003. 15 years later, with a decade long hiatus, and the Requiem series finally completed These words remain as truthful as ever.

Virgin Black has been ambitious from the beginning. Each album showed a wider display of songwriting that culminated in the Requiem series: A mass for the dead that involved a full collaboration between the band, the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and the Adelaide Stamford Academy Choir. The rest of the story is well known by now: The first two parts were released fairly quickly but the elusive first part, Pianissimo, never did. Rumours started circulating as the band also seemed to vanish out of thin air. All hope was nearly lost until late 2018 when the band rose like a phoenix. On their Facebook page, Virgin Black released chronological images of their past And present: The Requiem had been completed.

All three parts were recorded at the same time. Mezzo Forte was the perfect marriage of sound between the band and the orchestra/choir. The third and final part, Fortissimo, focused solely on the most extreme and savage aspects of the band within their death/doom/gothic metal sound, with only a hint of the orchestral ingredients. As you may have guessed, the lost first part of these series is purely classical. A ballsy move, since assembling a classical piece that evokes the same feelings and recalls the same passages as the other pieces cannot be an easy task. Not a single harsh moment (music nor vocal wise) can be heard here. Rowan truly brings it when he shows the full range of his operatic voice. Even though he did a good job in the band's humble beginnings, it's impossible to compare those achievements to the ones presented here: Quiet and sincere, or passionate and mad But forever a lamenting voice.

Now, I'm far from being an expert in classical music but to me Pianissimo is nicely composed. The ominous and mournful atmosphere pours out of my speakers when the leading voices and the lovely piano introduce melodies that are further carried out by the full orchestra and choir. The string section is mostly responsible for the build ups in intensity like in "Libera Eis Domine" or " Lacrimosa (I Tread Alone)", with the later also having a gorgeous piano passage. As the fans will surely know, many melodies and sections are repeated throughout the requiem series but through different filters. No exception here. Previous riffs and lyrics are referenced through the dark classical lens of the orchestra, thus providing a full satisfying disclosure for the fans.

I take pride in not being a stereotypical "but where's my metal?!" kind of person. I must admit however that I don't find this album to be as engaging as the other two parts of the Requiem series. That being said, I still believe this album achieves its' purpose though. It flows extremely well and it changes tones quite often, thus giving plenty of replay value. The range of emotions and explored landscapes are lacking just a bit though. Perhaps it should have been shorter? My opinions seem conflicted as my expectations were a bit higher and Virgin Black seems more adept at using the orchestra as a support like in the two other parts. Listening to the whole Requiem in one sitting (starting on this one and finishing with Fortissimo) does make for one incredible ride though! In that sense, this album truly shines. If you are a fan of the band do yourself a favour and complete the Requiem experience with this beautifully dark yet tranquil album. If you are not familiar with them Well, I must say that I envy you since you will listen to this requiem the way it should have been done.

Written on 31.12.2018 by A lazy reviewer but he is so cute you'd forgive him for it.


Comments: 3   Visited by: 176 users
31.12.2018 - 22:42
Rating: 9
If you are not familiar with them� Well, I must say that I envy you since you will listen to this requiem the way it should have been done.

Absolutely, I wish I could erase all three albums from my memory and re-listen again. Listening to this part after the other two was strange, somehow I think it would have made more sense hearing the melodies presented for the first in this one and then hearing them again on Mezzo-Forte and Fortissimo.
However, I really loved it, my favorite album of the year. Coming back to those melodies after 10 years does have another unique effect for longtime fans I guess
02.01.2019 - 13:01
If you are not familiar with them� Well, I must say that I envy you since you will listen to this requiem the way it should have been done.

Guess i'm in luck
Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?
24.01.2019 - 01:16

Waiting all these years and then this showed up. I can say it made me kind of dissappointed. Classic! I don't think so.

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