Virgin Black – Requiem Pianissimo

Rating: 4/5
Distributor/label: Independent
Released: 2018
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Band line-up:

Composers: Sesca Scaarba, Rowan London
Performers: Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Adelaide Stamford Academy Choir


1. Requiem Aeternum
2. Dies Irae
3. Until Death
4. Kyrie Eleison
5. Libera Eis Domine
6. Lacrimosa (I tread alone)
7. Pie Jesu
8. Remembrance


Virgin Black are a dark classical ensemble who will be releasing their latest album ‘Requiem – Pianissimo’ on 30 November, 2018. It was produced by six audio engineers and was performed by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and the Adelaide Academy Choir. Composers Sesca Scaarba and Rowan London financially back their projects themselves and still remain tens of thousands of dollars in debt because of them.

What’s the music like? It’s full of spooky drama and tension to say the least. You might think the same similar tone throughout the album would get tiresome, but it doesn’t. That’s because it is so well written with its perfectly timed, nail-biting crescendos and periods of thoughtful, though troubled contemplation. Indeed the structure throughout the release is very well thought out. The harmony is rich and adventurous and the lush orchestration brings it out wonderfully. All instruments are made the most of and they all complement each other, naturally. The singing is passionate and pained without being over the top, and despite the tricky higher end parts, every note is delivered without fault.

There isn’t anything ever wrong with the melodies on offer, but they are a little simplified relatively speaking. It could be said that the composers of Virgin Black don’t really write themes the way Danny Elfman or John Williams do. Requiem has no all time classic lines. At the end of the day, superb melodies are what people remember and they shouldn’t be neglected, no matter how strong everything else is. In fact, on very very rare occasions they are a little on the annoying side, with their tendencies for going up and down scales with little embellishments. But that is a nitpick.

In conclusion, this is certainly well composed, but it lacks really catchy, adventurous hooks that get stuck in the listener’s head with ease. Having said that, as the music is so detailed and complicated, it will take a long time to ‘learn’ and truly get into. Because of that, it will have an admirable lifespan and may never really get boring to listen to. A solid effort!

Review by Simon Wiedemann