Virgin Black – Requiem, Pianissimo
Running Time: 56:45
Release Date: 30/11/2018
Review by Chris Galea
“When will my sorrow begin to pale? Gather me, for I am scattered…”
(from ‘Libera Eis Domine’)
“Requiem, Pianissimo” is the final piece of Virgin Black’s Requiem triptych, each one released as a separate album and adopting a specific mood and tempo. “Mezzo Forte” and “Fortissimo” were released in 2007 and 2008, respectively.
I had been deeply impressed by Virgin Black’s debut album “Sombre Romantic” (2001) and follow-up album “Elegant And Dying” (2003), especially the former. Both albums probably weren’t meant for mass-consumption but somehow the music struck a chord with me. However for some reason I missed out on the two aforementioned Requiem albums and “Pianissimo” is but the first of the three I have delved into.
The word ‘Pianissimo’ means ‘very slow’ so I was expecting a very sombre and dark album. And that is pretty much what I got. Virgin Black utilise the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and the Adelaide Stamford Academy Choir and their contributions to the music feel like an integral part of the compositions – a sign of songwriting excellence. The music tends to be scary and nightmarish yet also touchingly beautiful. Case in point is ‘Lacrimosa (I Tread Alone)’.
Virgin Black have always had a (pro-)religious slant – in fact a requiem is a Mass in the Catholic Church offered for the repose of the soul/s of a deceased person/s and it tends to follow specific musical movements. And Virgin Black more or less follow these same movements. So you have songs such as ‘Kyrie Eleison’, with its haunting music, where God’s mercy is invoked. Or ‘Libera Eis Domine’ about the final judgement of man’s soul. The music in “Requiem, Pianissimo” is so evocative that you almost see the album unfold before your eyes and the operatic vocals are particularly amazing.
I wouldn’t be surprised to read diametrically contrasting reviews of this album but I do recommend you listen to it several times before forming an opinion. To be honest “Requiem, Pianissimo” is far removed from Metal with no guitars….and yet it’s darker than the darkest Black Metal album, is more epic than the most grand Power Metal album, is more aggressive than the most aggressive Thrash Metal album. It is, in short, a masterpiece.
1. Requiem Aeternum
2. Dies Irae
3. Until Death
4. Kyrie Eleison
5. Libera Eis Domine
6. Lacrimosa (I Tread Alone)
7. Pie Jesu
Rowan London – keyboards, vocals
Samantha Escarbe – guitars, cello
David Mason – guitar
Matthew Enright- drums
+ The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and The Adelaide Stamford Academy Choir
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