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.