Highly original classically inspired music
Virgin Black appears to be a unique entity in the Australian music scene. Mixing a wide variety of styles including doom, industrial and goth into a sweeping, classically inspired amalgam. The chemistry between vocalist Rowan London and guitarist Samantha Escarbe is phenomenal. When combined with the rest of the band, the session choir and the session cello the album comes to life.
Whilst there are comparisons that could be made to other bands from many genres, Virgin Black have a sound all of their own. In many respects, I wouldn't call this a metal album at all, even though there are some elements that would lead some to place them in this category. There is too much else going on here to place such a narrow label on the band.
It is great to finally hear a band with a vocalist who can sing. And not just in one style. Rowan London can move from straight singing to an almost operatic style at the drop of a hat and pulls it off flawlessly.
As I mentioned earlier, there is a heavy classical influence on the song writing on this album. It has the feel of a 19th century opera being performed in a large hall to a crowd of thousands. This is an album on a scale that is rarely attempted or done successfully by others and Virgin Black have done a fantastic job of bringing their vision to light. I must congratulate the band for staying within the bounds of what they set out to do without succumbing to the pompous artiness that others may have resorted to.
Sombre Romantic is an album best listened to in a dark, quiet room alone. Not because it is depressing but because there is so much going on that it requires your undivided attention to fully appreciate its intricacies. This album has quickly become one of my favourites and enjoys a regular play in my CD rotation, as I'm sure it will in yours too.