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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Go to the Virgin Black website  Virgin Black - Sombre Romantic [The End Records - 2002]

Intuition is a strange thing: although I am not sure and only time will tell, I believe that this album could be up there with Opeth's Orchid, Solefald's Linear Scaffold and Agalloch's Pale Folklore in the pantheon of extremely promising debuts. I think that if enough curious music fans take the time to give a spin or two to "Sombre Romantic", the positive word of mouth that would follow would do the rest and the band would certainly gain cult status at once. And after you've heard how much effort they've put into this, you'll agree with me that they deserve it.

How do they sound? Hard to explain. I'm sure the band members themselves have trouble answering that question without feeling like they are leaving much unsaid. One thing is clear to me though: they are a metal band. The catch is that they don't always play metal. Some songs are based on acoustic instruments; some have Doom and Black-Metal influences; some have a gothic atmosphere; some choirs used here and there for an operatic touch; some little electronic beats and samples that are in symbiosis with the organic elements... But those things, although interesting on paper, are irrelevant since it's the songwriting that makes this band what it is.

The music falls in the "not extremely hard to play but hard to write" category. It's immediately apparent after a few listens that the songwriting is incredibly involved and that the band worked on each song as if it was their final statement. Each one has a certain "je ne sais quoi" that makes it unique and recognizable: a complete entity. This spark of life that was given to each song through hard work, as I'm sure writing and recording this album was, is what makes it special. Also, kudos to the band, the engineer and the producer for getting the sound just right. "Sombre Romantic" has a fully realized production of which most young bands would be jealous.

Definitely a band that I will follow closely in the future. If you are in a dark and romantic mood -- more dark than romantic -- then do yourself a favor and check this out. Of course it is not perfect, but I don't ask perfection from a debut -- I'll wait for their next album to do that -- but for now, this fresh blood is much welcome.

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

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