Virgin Black - Requiem - Fortissimo
Record Label: The End Records
Release Date: February 19, 2008
"Music may move me to many emotions, but it will never move me to fear." - Me
I was wrong. Sitting in my room on a sunny day too bright to let any light through my windows and still see the computer screen properly, I popped in the Virgin Black record that just came in the mail. I had gone through the lyrics booklet already, and although the album cover looked almost blasphemous to their proclaimed faith, everything seemed like a typical doom metal record. Track 1, "The Fragile Breath," began with what's commonly known as "wicked" death metal guitar chugging, complete with deep bass lines and rolling drums - nothing that hasn't been overdone before. I zoned off (a.k.a. found better things to do on the computer) after the first 20 seconds or so before the low growls kicked in at around a minute into the song. I noticed that these low growls were, well... very low, out of the range of most of the kids in the scene today. It sounded as if the Balrog itself was trying to open its hellish vocal chords and sing a tune. Now, note that my window blinds were down, and the room was relatively dark. To be honest, with my powerful speaker system and rudimentary doom metal experience, I was absolutely frightened!
Then the high, feminine opera vocals touched my ears. EERIE! I jumped twice and switched to my Metro Station playlist. This was the first time I can truly say that I was scared by music. Blame it on my lack of doom metal experience, blame it on my current preference of metalcore over other types of metal, blame it on anything! Given the same conditions however, you will be scared! I dare you to play Requiem – Fortissimo on Halloween night for all the kids who come trick-o-treating for free diabetes at your door.
I don't want to overemphasize though, and when I tried playing the record again later when my window blinds were up, it didn't quite have the same effect. Yeah, I guess I would say that Requiem – Fortissimo is one of those mood records, where you have to be in the right conditions to properly "enjoy" it. Otherwise, it can get boring at times, with its droning, buzzing guitars that seem to run the same chord throughout the entire album. Still, I would definitely choose a Virgin Black record over other doom albums, given the band's talented integration of opera influence and classical music. Soprano Susan Johnson is absolutely incredible with her shrill voice and is a major part of what gives Requiem – Fortissimo its life and commanding power.
In the end, there's enough to enjoy here to purchase the album, something I highly recommend. "The Fragile Breath" is hardly the most frightening track - just wait until you hear "Silent," which sports a spooky string line that will set even your pubic hairs on end. Requiem – Fortissimo may only be 6 tracks long ("Forever" is a haunting piano only closer), but it's almost one of those "things you should do before you die" experiences. Trust me, you'll be needing it to substitute for the coffee you forgot that morning.