One of the things that I think might be leveled against Time Requiem is that they sound like a number of well-known classical/symphonic progressive metal bands. Even still, they are good … very good … at what they do, creating a collection of music that is at times exhilarating -- the impressive opening to "Time Requiem", the speed-demo and speed-demon instrumental "Brutal Mentor" (which is Disneyland's Electric Lightshow music on …well, speed), and the track that follows "Visions of New Dawn," to name three, are good examples. The music is almost always catchy and engaging. The music is memorable and you will find yourself singing along with the power choruses. Like the standard bearers of the genre, but not clones of.
Time Requiem is the 2002 the debut album from keyboardist Richard Andersson's project of the same name, a project that is apparently really a renewed version of Majestic, as four-fifths of the band were members of Majestic. They are, aside from Andersson, Magnus Nord on guitars, Peter Wildoer on drums, and Apollo Papathanasio on vocals. The one non-Majestic member is drummer Dick Lövgren, who replaces Martin Wezowski. Stefan Ingelstrand provides backing vocals and Mattias Frisk and Inger Ohlen contribute guest voices "Time Requiem." The Flower Kings bassist Jonas Reingold engineered and co-produced the CD.
If I could make an all-encompassing comparison, it'd be to Star One. Maybe a little more of the classical element than Star One, but the arrangements and rock-opera feel to the music certainly is in the same territory. Vocalist Apollo Papathanasio sounds like a mix of Sammy Hagar, Hansi Kursch (on "The Aphorism," the only point he gets close to growly), Russell Allen and Tom Englund (on "Above And Beyond" for example, though the music doesn't sound like Evergrey) … and on a couple of brief occasions, like Robert Plant. Mainly though he keeps in the Allen/Englund territory. Papathanasio has a rich voice that easily glides into one's ear, even when he dips down in darker, deeper tones. As you might expect, keyboards and guitar are all over the place - Nord's tone is bright and bold, such that there are times when I'm not sure if it a keyboard, guitar or both soloing. The sound of the guitars and keys is very classical, as you come to expect from this genre. And as you might you might expect, seeing as Andersson wrote, composed and produced this project.
This album really is a stunner, holding you fast from the get go. The title track is one of the outstanding tracks with a tour-de-force solo just before the end that, even though it's as erratic as the "The Flight Of The Bumblebee" (which it doesn't quote), it just shows the dexterity that Andersson and Nord have. "Watching The Tower Of Skies," the second track, begins with layers of keys, the backing layers creating the atmosphere with washes, the top layer playing stately intro. Papathanasio here sounds a bit like James LaBrie, but only for a moment. After another brief instrumental passage, the song proper kicks in, a roller coaster ride of throbbing bass, thudding and bashing drums, and dark vocals (a darker Royal Hunt came to mind briefly here, as did Angra). But the band never let things get too out of control, as you are convinced that even while you race along the twists and turns, your wheels are firmly secured to track and that the band will bring you safely to a stop at the end of the ride (not that you want the ride to end). Their classical influence is most strongly felt in "The Aphorism," which contrasts the lighter keyboard intro with a heavier, chunkier core section (as I mentioned Kursch vocally, we must also mention Blind Guardian musically… and in transitions between versus, its where I thought of Hagar). This piece also gives a solid highlight solo to Nord to close out the track beautifully. "Grand Opus" an other heavy epic, heart-pounding track that also contains all the classical elements that one has now come to expect, especially those keyboards. And one will be doubly, tripily, impressed with the short instrumental tour-de-force piece "Interplay Of Matters."
The only point where they slip below the line is on "Milagros Charm." While it is as good as the rest of the album in terms of the complex arrangement, it is the least interesting track overall. That is to say, if you've listened to a lot of progressive metal, it seems to be a fairly routine piece, one in which all the parts are in place, and it sounds okay, but… compared to the other material, it's kind of lost.
Odd for a strong track to be lost amongst stronger tracks, but that just tells you how solid a release this is. The band are tight, there isn't a moment wasted, even in pieces where the tracks last 8 or 9 minutes. The time goes by in a blink of an eye, because there is so much going on and because the pace of this music is so frenetic. In fact, except for parts of songs, there are no ballads. No real moments to stop, take your breath and marvel at the beauty. You hear the beauty, of course, but you can really only catch your breath when the last notes of the last song fade. And even then, it's only a few moments before you hit the play button and start the ride over again.
Really terrific prog metal that has me itching to hear their new one. My favourite favourites here are "Time Requiem," "Brutal Mentor" and "Above And Beyond."