Expanding and pushing boundaries to new heights
Elegant...And Dying is a unique album in many ways. Firstly, it isn't too often that a band can release a second album that practically eclipses their debut release. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it is also rare for a band to release a second album that totally refines and expands upon their musicianship and song writing. Virgin Black have done both with sheer skill.
Clocking in at just shy of 75 minutes, Elegant...And Dying is an epic masterpiece that mixes the grandeur of the opera with a powerful doom metal sound into a colossus that is both haunting and captivating at once. You may instantly think of Therion when the words opera and metal are used in the same sentence, but the two are a world apart. Whilst Therion manage to mix opera and metal into each song individually, Virgin Black do it at an album level, with each track both an individual story, and at the same time part of the larger collective story, making the listener feel as though they are intimately involved in some sweeping baroque saga.
To speak too much of the atmosphere would ultimately lead us nowhere as I can't find any adequate words to describe it and do it justice. As was the case with their debut release, Sombre Romantic, Elegant...And Dying is an album best suited to a quiet room with no interference from the outside world as it deserves the listener's full, undivided attention to fully appreciate not only the atmosphere, but the intricacies scattered throughout it. It is an album that takes time to reveal its secrets to its listeners.
As with Sombre Romantic, the song writing on Elegant...And Dying is handled by Rowan London (vocals, piano, keyboard) and Samantha Escarbe (lead guitar). It is amazing that these two can compose separately, yet come together to form such a cohesive unit. It is immediately apparent from listening to this album that the two have a deep understanding of each other's musicianship. Also worthy of mention is that London handled the production duties for the album, and the artwork was created by Escarbe.
It has been announced that that sometime this year Virgin Black are scheduled to release no less than 3 separate albums which will make 5 releases in the 5 years from 2001. For a band that is as complex and well structured as Virgin Black, this is an amazing feat. They surely must be one of the hardest working bands on both the domestic and international scene and it is comforting to see again that there are Australian bands who can give the international acts a serious run for their money.