Review by Brian McGowan
Lack of due diligence might lead you to expect little from a band who spend time comparing themselves to great pop and rock bands like Queen, Supertramp, Toto and Sparks. It would be a mistake. Requiem is very much a vehicle for the songs of Swedish musician / songwriter, Johan Norrby. It’s produced and mixed by Norrby and the band’s guitarist, Stefan Hellblad, also a member of respected Dutch metallers Within Temptation. They share the obsessive’s ear for fine textural detail, creating meticulously crafted music with a crisp, clear sound. And yes, despite your natural suspicions, as the album unfolds, it reveals echoes of all of the above – with a list of accidental clues running through the album like some symphonic / melodic / Progrock gameshow.
The anthemic ‘Nothing’ is clearly the album’s centrepiece, compressing Mott, Sparks and Spocks Beard into one colourful burst of carefully orchestrated noise, with a dominant piano leading the way like a rock’n’roll kappelmeister. It’s bookended on one side by ‘Symphony’, a track that tiptoes into view, sotto voce, then takes a twisting, turning, time changing tilt at symphonic rock greatness, a whispering giant of a song, that finally finds voice in an all too short crescendo of choirs and soaring axework. And on the other side by ‘Letting Go’, a track that’s equally symphonic in its shifts of tone and mood, much in the way that Robbie Valentine, in his understated better moments, channels Queen.
Unfurling rich harmonies and ratcheting up the tempo, the second half of the album launches with ‘Best Thing’ – a tuneful approximation of The Scissor Sisters at their sharpest and most energetic. That tasty trail of clues leads us gracefully into the title cut, ‘Requiem’. It’s another track that starts modestly – recalling Procol Harum – with a spare, uncluttered production that builds, in layers, into a piece of music that sounds like the climax of a haunting lament, thus avoiding the surrealism and theatricality on which so many of these other bands often depend.
There are times and places on the album where you wish they had taken a few more chances and added a little more production punch. But as a prime example of how to make the “less is more” philosophy work, this album will do just fine.
8 out of 10
- I Was The One
- Judgement Day
- Letting Go
- Best Thing
- Dead Or Alive
- Love Again