Virgin Black, "Sombre Romantic"
Sometimes a band emerges that defies all expectations, takes control of one's body and soul, and never let's go. Virgin Black is precisely that kind of a band. On its first full-length US release, this Australian group creates some of the most unique sounds in modern heavy music, taking the listener on a mysterious voyage of exquisite sadness.
Sombre Romantic presents a vision of five musical prophets who create the soundtrack to a dark, romantic movie that unfortunately is yet to be filmed. Every song on the album possesses the quality of suspense, depression, and at times, even horror. The unprecedented amount of emotion and depth is created by the vocals of Rowan London. In his finest moments, Rowan sounds like a professional opera singer [Of Your Beauty, 1:26-2:13]. His black metal shrieks [Drink the Midnight Hymn] and doomy moans [Museum of Iscariot] are just as beautiful and effective as his clean vocals, sending chills down my spine with every listen. While Sombre Romantic utilizes quite a few musical instruments, Samantha Escribe's guitars are the highlight of this album. They stand out, because they are not dominating: they give the music enough room to breathe, yet, create an incredible impact which makes these songs a heavenly experience [the solo on Lamenting Kiss, the introduction on Weep for Me].
While most of the band's songs could be qualified as metal, I am quite hesitant to call Virgin Black a metal band. The band deserves a better fate than being grouped with lifeless metal acts such as Six Feet Under or Jungle Rot. The music Virgin Black creates does not follow any specific formula. Every song on the album has its own personality. For example, Opera de Romanci and Embrace sound like they could have been on The Omen soundtrack. A Poet's Tears of Porcelain comes across like a psalm. Listening to its opening moments, I feel as my soul is getting purified and I am set me free from the world's superficial problems. Weep for Me comes across as a funeral dirge that will make you cry as if a part of you just died. These are not just words, these are feelings that the band creates in the listener.
On Sombre Romantic, Virgin Black proves to the world that they are true innovators: there are no predictable melodies or vocal patterns on Sombre Romantic; everything moves in its own mysterious way. To simply put it: this is a must have in anyone's music collection! Amen.
Of Your Beauty / Drink the Midnight Hymn