Truly outstanding release from this very talented band that I am just getting to know. Mezzo Forte was my first Virgin Black purchase, and it has hardly left my CD player since I bought it. Fortissimo is at least the equal of mezzo forte, if not better. I actually prefer the heavier style most of the time, and the raw emotion felt here throughout the record is exceptional.
Metal Album Reviews[RSS]
I have been eagerly anticipating the Fortissimo installment of Virgin Black’s Requiem Trilogy. Mezzo Forte, the first movement to be released, was genius in its conception and masterful in its execution. Clearly it was a masterpiece, and I could not wait for the more traditional “metal” aspects to take the lead in Fortissimo. Now that I have heard it, and while I recognize its greatness, I can’t help but feel that it is the lesser of the releases so far.
In Mezzo Forte, the orchestra had almost as much a part to play as the band, and Rowan used clean vocals with only occasional death growls. Furthermore, Samantha’s voice was prominent. Now guitars dominate the musical landscape, Rowan only employs the death vocals, and Samantha’s role has been greatly diminished. True, this is more traditional doom metal, but to me it is not the Virgin Black we know so well from Sombre Romantic, Elegant…and Dying, and the jewel in their discographical crown, Mezzo Forte. The music of Fortissimo is not as moving, not as epic, not as passionate as that found on Mezzo Forte.
Is this CD worth a purchase? Absolutely. It is a stellar work. Is it another fine addition to VB’s catalogue? Yes. Does it live up to the promise displayed on Mezzo Forte for the Requiem trilogy? No, I have to say. Like a top-heavy symphony dominated by the first movement and followed by wonderful but less inspired movements, Requiem takes us to the heavens (or in this case, hell) from the first, and over time returns us to the Earth.
I can’t wait for Pianissimo, but now instead of wanting to see if VB could top its inspiration, I will now see if they can match that of Mezzo Forte.
This CD sounds like Evoken covering Black Sabbath. Whereas the first chapter, “Requiem – Mezzo Forte” had the vibe of faith reaching through anguish, “Fortissimo” mainly reflects pain – the crown of thorns, the nails and the slow suffocation.
Rowan London swaps his tenor vocal beauty for a Cookie-Monster-on-downers approach, and it fits. The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra steps way back, in favor of doom metal……actually, DOOOOOOOOOOM metal. Susan Johnson’s soprano is like a dove flying over a field of rusting swords and mangled bodies. Apart from her operatics, the voices and music are all six feet deep. So, logically, drummer Dino Cielo and guitarist Samantha Escarbe rule the room this time.
Track three (“Silent”) features singing and a guitar melody straight from “Mezzo Forte”. That works in this case, since the CDs are parts of a trilogy.
A normal men’s choir adds a layer of humanity while a “Death Choir” (including London and bassist Grayh) leads “Lacrimosa (gather me)”. I suspect London now owns controlling stock in Chloraseptic.
In my review for “Mezzo Forte” I predicted that Escarbe would knock us flat on our butts with “Fortissimo”. Having now heard the album, I stand by that claim. Still, her playing here isn’t quite as dynamic as in Virgin Black’s “Elegant…and Dying”. (Granted, how the hell could you top a song like “The Everlasting”?)
There’s a really cool call-back on “Darkness”. At the 9:04 mark, Johnson and the band reprise a chorus from “Mezzo Forte” but THIS time the Death Choir sings along. It sounds like demons trying to reclaim a song forbidden to them since being cast out of Heaven.
After all the heaviness, “Forever” is truly a disarming little piano piece. I hear it and think of Mary in the shadow of the cross, the minute her son forces “It is finished” from his mouth and dies.
Overall, “Requiem – Fortissimo” sounds like the physical reality of Golgotha, the horror before the resurrection.