Review by Krys on February 19, 2002.
From the kings of melancholy, The End Records, comes another release that will shake your world and open yet another softer side of your mind that you probably didn’t know existed.
If I had to add a picture behind the music it would be about a man who sacrificed his life for the love of his life that happened to be Death itself hidden behind the face of the most beautiful creature that walked the earth. OK, maybe I wouldn’t win the Oscar for the most original idea but add Virgin Black “Sombre Romantic” as a soundtrack behind it and you’ll get chills down your spine, guaranteed.
Chants of monks, dreamy classical arrangements, cold and thunderous strokes of drums, crying guitar solos and amazing voice of Rowan London that sounds like nothing you’ve encountered before (at least not in metal), makes “Sombre Romantic” one of the most unique and original releases I’ve heard.
The closest description for the vocals I can muster is a mix of Far East texture with a deep and strong command so well controlled that without words it can plummet you into sorrow or anger and it makes me constantly click repeat to satisfy my bleeding soul.
While the Rowan’s voice is the driving force on this album, the rest of the band doesn’t just fill the holes but rather creates a dark and romantic background where all instruments are used with a perfect touch without creating too complex or mood breaking lines. Finding the best track here is almost impossible ‘cause each song has its own identity and while being so distinct they still construct the whole concept wonderfully.
The only unnecessary moments are techno-esque beats on ‘Walk Without Limbs’ and ‘Lamenting Kiss’ but those minor flaws on “Sombre Romantic” are not even worth further examination because they drown in an ocean of sorrow and beauty that emanates from this masterpiece. Just dim the lights and turn up the volume...
Bottom Line: Virgin Black; I haven’t even heard this name before but from now on I’ll make sure every release that comes out from this great band will find its way to my collection. (Their 1998 “Trance” is already coming.)
Categorical Rating Breakdown
Rating: 9.4 out of 10