Virgin Black Requiem - Fortissimo

Virgin Black Requiem - Fortissimo
Brutally powerful, an onslaught of catastrophic guitar work, thunderous percussion, turbulent bass and guttural growls, Requiem — Fortissimo is Virgin Black’s heaviest album yet. Fortissimo is the second release of a three-part requiem mass (part three in the mass’s internal chronology), its sorrow and anguish the ultimate culmination of funereal doom. Symphonic and choral in brief moments, the album shifts away from the orchestral collaboration so prominent on last year’s Mezzo Forte to focus more on the evocative and emotional extremes possible in the metal genre, and will stand as the aggressive counter-point to the more classically-performed Requiem — Pianissimo set to follow next year. Rich in dark, oppressive atmospheres, pierced with thorns of melodic tenderness and light, Fortissimo is even more spell-binding than Virgin Black’s previous releases, but these songs are far from an easy listen. Despite its heaviness, the album is often subtle, and though sometimes ponderous, it’s never stagnant. Melodies surface throughout the arrangements, passing from solo voice to piano or choir but most often falling to Samantha Escarbe’s distinctive lead guitar. The album interweaves predominantly new material with recognisable themes from Mezzo Forte, demanding successive listening sessions, and its tender final seconds beg the companionship of the third requiem release.

Composing a three-part requiem mass obviously demanded a slightly different approach to writing.
Vocalist/keyboardist Rowan London: In some strange way I view Requiem as the equivalent to the Alice In Chains EPs, in that AIC would release an album of reasonably "normal” songs then follow up with an EP like Jar of Flies that was very eclectic. We’ve also had a divergence but in the opposite direction — duration wise and in that our "standard” albums are probably more eclectic, with Requiem being a very specified and channelled work. This specific nature meant that Samantha and I worked much more closely this time around. It’s a huge responsibility to write a requiem mass and such a fine line to tread between tasteful and outlandish, respectful and potent.

Do you feel you’ve reached a peak with Requiem? What are your plans for the next more "normal” release?
I know it seems ridiculous given the scale of Requiem but during the process we wrote some embryonic material for the post-Requiem album. That album will be the spiritual successor to Elegant… and Dying. We’re at a stage that I wouldn’t have thought possible. To record with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, to actually be able and want to listen to an album I’ve just finished, and to get the immense reactions we’ve had thus far is certainly a peak. (The End)