Requiem - Mask Of Damnation
Sound Riot Records
Neo-Classical Progressive Power Metal
8 songs (41'57)
Release year: 2003
Requiem, Sound Riot Records
Reviewed by Marty
Mask Of Damnation is the second full length release from this Finnish band. There was lots of hype about Requiem's first album not only from the postings in the forums sections of Metal Reviews, but there was a buzz about this band throughout the net in general. I was impressed with the musicianship and the sound of Requiem with their debut album, The Arrival, but I found their style to be all over the map and not easy to categorize. It seemed that sudden tempo changes and technically flashy sections were just thrown in and other than to try to impress the listener with their technical prowess, they did nothing for the songs. Other than that, I liked what I heard with their debut and since it was their first album, I was a little generous and gave it a fairly high score (82/100 with the old scoring system). That score was mainly due to the potential I saw for this band. Now that their second album is here, my expectations were quite high that they would improve on their short comings and deliver an excellent quality progressive power metal album. I must say that I'm disappointed. I get the same feeling listening to this album as their first one; lots of potential and an overall great sounding band but on this album, the songs just aren't there. Sure there's lots of great riffs, some Yngwie style neo-classical guitar and keyboard scale runs and the vocals of Juoni Nikula are as solid as they are unique, but the obvious attempt to infuse progressive elements into what is otherwise standard speedy fast power metal falls short of it's goal.

Lots of tracks have some great speedy double bass driven riffs and it seems like the band recently discovered Thin Lizzy as guitar harmony thirds are found on many of the tracks. The guitar sound is meaty and solid but unlike the first album, the lead guitar is poorly produced and rather uninspiring. Several of the tracks have a Sonata Arctica like sound with the speediness and rich melodies but the melodic hooks just aren't there. The production is somewhat inferior to the first album and I raised my eyebrows at some of the arrangements especially the title track, Mask Of Damnation. The song is decent for the most part then really gets going with some building dramatic segments just after the lead solo but then it just ends with the guitar and bass just hitting a chord and sliding it down the neck of the guitars. Not the way to end a track like this one!! There's really only one track that stood out for me and that's Shrine Of The Ocean. With a mix of heavy riffs and a very 70's Saga-like vocal style, it has atmosphere, melody and a very solid and enjoyable arrangement. The vocals and chorus are great and catchy and definitely on par with what I expected from them. This song works in every way.

I had the same impression with Vision Divine as with Requiem and I'm sure some will like this album a lot more than I do but to me, songs are made up of a lot more than a bunch of riffs and some proggy technical interludes. With this album, song after song goes by and you wonder when it's going to get better. In my opinion, besides some solid riffs and the track Shrine Of The Ocean, it never really does. With some great new progressive metal coming from bands like Pagan's Mind,Theocracy and Adagio, Requiem's power metal flavored progressive metal pales in comparison. The whole idea of their music could work but with the flood of speedy, average power metal bands coming out and an overall stale feeling about the genre in general, they'd better come up with something better than this if they're going to survive.

Killing Songs :
Shrine Of The Ocean
Marty quoted 69 / 100
Other albums by Requiem that we have reviewed:
Requiem - Requiem Forever reviewed by Ian and quoted 67 / 100
Requiem - The Arrival reviewed by Marty and quoted 82 / 100
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