Requiem for the Dead

Album Review: Requiem for the Dead – Always and Forever

A little history. Requiem for the Dead have risen from the ashes of I Am Ghost – a post-hardcore band that dealt with death, vampires, and other slightly sinister stuff. They had galloping riffs, dark atmospheric qualities, and, at times, females vocals and violin solos.

The mastermind behind I Am Ghost, lead singer Steve Juliano, casts his influential shadow over Requiem for the Dead. As such, it is hard not to draw comparisons, though the band are clearly aware of this since “Those Lovely Shark People” could be a reference to lyrics in I Am Ghost’s “Our Friend Lazarus Sleeps”, while the line “pretty people never lie” is a not-so-subtle reference to the song of the same name. The aggressive intro to “The Misadventure of Coffin Kid” (the part after the electronic drums) sounds almost like an intro you would hear on “Those We Leave Behind.” There is an intro track, and a mid-way interlude, just like I Am Ghost had on both LPs.

That’s not to say that comparisons are a bad thing – I Am Ghost released two great albums.

They did, however, take themselves too seriously at times, which is where Requiem for the Dead provide a solution: massive pop influences. Yes, there are galloping riffs on this album, but there are also electronic drums, soaring vocal hooks, and just as many opportunities to dance as there are to mosh. “Blonde to Red” may start with downtuned power chords, but a dance-style drum beat kicks in which would not have been allowed anywhere near I Am Ghost.

“Those Lovely Shark People” is the first proper song on the album, after the almost uncharacteristically positive sounding intro of “Sad Boy Meets Sad Girl”, and it is a normal rock song. It’s refreshingly melodic, it’s accessible, and it sounds fun and triumphant. The lyrics are dark and sinister as always (though there is a lot less talk of vampires this time round), but the pop influences have made it sound like every negative aspect that is being sung about will work itself out in the end.

“The Death Note of Shipwrecks” is a lot more familiar sounding, combined with Requiem for the Dead’s influence. No over-used double bass drums (some more of those electronic ones appear), but certainly one of the heaviest tracks on the album, complete with a massive pop-melody chorus. The other pounding heavy number is “The Misadventure of Coffin Kid” and is my favourite on the album – it gets everything just right. It has what worked best from I Am Ghost, combined with the pop, the atmosphere, the anthemic qualities. It even has a creepy nursery rhyme.

Not everything here is quite as successful; some tracks simply don’t seem to work. For a power ballad “Always and Forever” has too much going on at times that the vocals are swamped by everything happening around them. It’s the sound of a band trying to slow down, but not quite knowing how to do so. The interlude that follows is equally as messy with rhythms that don’t quite seem to fit. It’s uncomfortable to listen to, and I feel that that may be the point given what the interlude contains, but it disrupts the flow of the album.

“The Terrible Tale of Two” closes the album, but was one of the first tracks to be available for listeners to check out Requiem for the Dead. It contains the female vocals of old, but it’s the only track to feature them prominently, so it feels like a misleading introduction to the band. It is a great way to finish the album though, and a definite highlight of “Always and Forever.”

An interesting debut, and considering that it will be free to all this Friday, it is hard to complain. At times, Requiem for the Dead get it exactly right, and when they do the results are magical. They do need to tighten up a few loose screws and master their new love of pop, but it is a welcome change which we will hopefully get to see develop over time.

Rating: 7/10

 

     

About Scott Wilson

Having spent the last twenty years of his life telling his friends his opinion of the latest release by every band he has ever heard of, Scott is an enthusiastic journalist and keen writer. A fan of every genre of music, though his heart firmly belongs to rock, he has been spending far too much money on gigs and not enough on digs. Reachable by either email or Twitter where copious amounts of commentating and general excitement can also be found.

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