Published Feb 19, 2008Brutally powerful, an onslaught of catastrophic guitar work, thunderous percussion, turbulent bass and guttural growls, Requiem Fortissimo is Virgin Blacks heaviest album yet. Fortissimo is the second release of a three-part requiem mass (part three in the masss 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 years 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 Blacks previous releases, but these songs are far from an easy listen. Despite its heaviness, the album is often subtle, and though sometimes ponderous, its never stagnant. Melodies surface throughout the arrangements, passing from solo voice to piano or choir but most often falling to Samantha Escarbes 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. Weve 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. Its 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 youve 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. Were at a stage that I wouldnt have thought possible. To record with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, to actually be able and want to listen to an album Ive just finished, and to get the immense reactions weve had thus far is certainly a peak. (The End)