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VIRGIN BLACK - Sombre Romantic cover
3.71 | 6 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 2001

Filed under Gothic Metal


1. Opera de Romanci: I. Stare (3:53)
2. Opera de Romanci: II. Embrace (3:52)
3. Walk Without Limbs (4:26)
4. Of Your Beauty (4:00)
5. Drink the Midnight Hymn (5:14)
6. Museum of Iscariot (7:41)
7. Lamenting Kiss (5:25)
8. Weep for Me (1:53)
9. I Sleep with the Emperor (2:39)
10. A Poet's Tears of Porcelain (5:19)

Total Time: 44:25


- Rowan London / Vocals, Keyboards
- Samantha Escarbe / Guitars, Cello
- Ian Miller / Bass
- Dino Cielo / Drums

About this release

Self-released/independent, February 12th, 2001

Re-released by The End Records in 2002. Also available packaged together with the Trance EP.

Miscellaneous staff:
- Ian Miller / Engineering
- Samantha Escarbe / Photography
- Neville Clark / Mastering
- Camren Harm / Mixing, Layout
- Rowan London / Producer

Thanks to UMUR for the updates


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BMG/The End Records 2005
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Specialists/collaborators reviews

"Sombre Romantic" is the debut full-length studio album by Australian goth/doom/symphonic metal act Virgin Black. The album was originally self-released in February 2001 but saw a label release through The End Records in 2002. Virgin Black were formed in Adelaide, Australia in 1995 and they released the "Trance" EP in 1998 as their first release.

The music on "Sombre Romantic" is a rather eclectic goth/doom metal style including choirs, strings, piano, and semi-operatic singing. The atmosphere is drenched in melancholy, which can be heard in both the way the vocals are performed and in how the melodies sound. While it´s truly an epic release with several majestic moments, it´s also quite a dynamic release also featuring more stripped down and quiet melancholic sections. Some tracks also feature more extreme type vocals, and it´s safe to say "Sombre Romantic" is a diverse release.

The diversity also makes it slightly inconsistent in style, which can be a strength or a weakness depending on the ears who hear, but personally I could have wished for a more stylistically "clean" release. Not that variation isn´t a good thing, but more because Virgin Black are more convincing playing some styles than others. The album for example opens very strong with "Opera de Romanci: I. Stare" and "Opera de Romanci: II. Embrace", but can´t quite follow up the powerful and epic opening with something equally breathtaking. All material on the 10 track, 44:25 minutes long album is still very well written though, and overall "Sombre Romantic" is quite the intriguing release.

The sound production is professional, clear, and well sounding, and upon conclusion "Sombre Romantic" doesn´t sound like a typical debut album. Other than the flow of the album, which is disturbed slightly by the stylistic diversity of the music, it´s a pretty impressive release and a 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.
Virgin Black’s debut does exactly what the album title promises. They are clearly deep in mourning and decadently romantic. Their music is hard to put into just one category, there are elements of goth, black and doom metal, but also soft acoustic guitat parts, mostly melodic and slightly operatic vocals, beautiful bluesy guitar solos, symphonic keyboards and melodious pianos.

Because the music is hard to describe, I need to refer to other bands to draw similarities. A first is My Dying Bride from around their second album Turn Loose The Swans. Virgin Black improves that sound with better vocals and great Gilmouresque guitar solos as on Museum Of Iscariot. A second reference would be Therion. The second track Embrace for instance features a choir introduction that sounds just like Therion on a particularly drowsy day. Also Agalloch can be mentioned. On Drink the Midnight Hymn Virgin Black bring an operatic version of a similar type of epic black metal. Also the overall sound is quite similar to Agalloch’s albums. The integration of moody acoustic pieces and ambient experimentalism adds Ulver to this extensive list of references.

The songwriting is excellent throughout and with the extensive range of styles it makes for a varied and dynamic album. Fans of the bands listed shouldn’t hesitate, and others shouldn’t turn their backs too quickly neither. This music incorporates many forms of modern metal but it can hardly be tagged extreme. Instead it’s heavy, dark, melodic and very moving.

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