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Requiem - "Arrival" (CD)

Requiem - "Arrival" CD cover image

"Arrival" track listing:

1. Arrival (0:58)
2. Revival (4:28)
3. Broken Alliance (4:16)
4. Whispers (4:45)
5. The Invisible Touch (4:25)
6. Forgotten Path (7:43)
7. Halls Of Eternity (5:30)
8. Liquid Hours (6:11)
9. Masquerade (8:26)

Reviewed by on August 31, 2010

"There are two things Requiem does well – dual guitar, mid-tempo power metal, and classical."

Around 1997 there emerged a Finnish melodic/power metal band called Requiem (not to be confused with the Swiss death metal band of the same name, who also appeared at the same time). Mixing classical Mozart-styled piano with mid-tempo power guitars and drums and high-range male vocals, their debut release, appropriately titled "Arrival," showed that this group had the potential to create well-developed, epic, complex compositions. In fact, the 58-second opening instrumental track is epic-sounding and leaves the listener expecting something great. Unfortunately, while there are some great moments, the rest of the album quickly becomes a muddy mix of missteps.

There are two things Requiem does well – dual guitar, mid-tempo power metal, and classical. Unfortunately, the transitions between the two are usually rough, particularly for the drummer, who has a hard time changing tempo and keeping up with the vocals. And the vocals have a strong tendency to go flat on sustained notes, which unfortunately tends to be protocol for the final note of a line in power metal. The vocals aren’t particularly strong anyway, (they remind me a lot of the anguished vocals in the later tracks of Pink Floyd’s "The Wall"), but when fighting to be heard over the pulsing instruments and trying to maintain pitch, especially when harmonizing with backup vocals or the brief growls that appear on "Revival," the battle gets even tougher.

Like another power metal band that would come after Requiem and achieve worldwide acclaim thanks to the video game industry, Requiem has a tendency to sound a bit like a video game in tracks such as "Broken Alliance." The closing is fantastic, but the song would have been better had they stayed away from the mixing board.

With the struggles Requiem seems to have combining genres, surprisingly one of the best tracks is one where they do just that. The intro to “Whispers” actually sounds a lot like "Smooth Criminal," but they quickly move from this rock tempo to a slightly muddy interlude of too-formal vocals and then transition into a great little slice of symphonic sounding metal, complete with harpsichord. Sure it sounds crazy, but it actually works. A similar plan is used for the closing track "Masquerade." The lead and backup vocals still struggle to maintain harmonies, but the rest of the piece is very well done, perhaps because it’s mostly symphonic, which listeners should have figured out by now is the sub-genre these guys should actually play.

Like any debut album "Arrival" has its pros and cons. It’s obvious Requiem is trying to find their footing, but unfortunately for this Finnish band, it all ended in 2005. Maybe it was because of the long lapses between album releases, and maybe it was because a much heavier band by the same name appeared shortly after in nearby Sweden. Regardless, Requiem helped pave the way for later melodic power metal acts who would stick around, at least for now.

Highs: A good mix of mid-tempo power metal and symphonic elements.

Lows: Rough tempo transitions and weak vocals.

Bottom line: Power metal fans can find some fine moments mixed in with a few not so fine moments.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)