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REQUIEM (The Story 1985 - 92) 2CD

Everyone who's interested in obscure Italian heavy metal should pay close attention to this luxuriously equipped digipack, which has been released by BloodRock Records last year. And if you're a fan of The Black than it is an essential purchase, because their guitarist/vocalist Mario Di Donate was also the founder of REQUIEM. For this reason it should be clear that some of the songs have their unique ways. It is obvious that Di Donate was already interested to create a morbid and dramatic atmosphere at that stage. This is no big surprise really when we consider that the Italian heavy metal scene always had an affinity for religious themes and occultism, especially those bands which can be found on the doomier side of metal. However, in contrast to bands such Death SS, Black Hole or Paul Chain, REQUIEM were less influenced by Black Sabbath. Whilst their music is dark, it is obvious that they also draw influence from the broad spectrum of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal.

But all that said, REQUIEM never managed to achieve a commercial breakthrough although the band gained attention in Italy's heavy metal underground. And so it's not much of a surprise that the manageable number of REQUIEM releases are nowadays very rare and hard to find. Due to this fact, fans and new entrants will be more than happy, because 'The Story 1985 - 92' contains the entire dicography of the band. The compilation will kick off with the '1985 - 1988' compilation that was only released on cassette in 1989 via Minotauro Records. Although the sound quality is a little bit low, it does not detract from the listening pleasure. Furthermore most of the tracks are nice and the raw charm of the recordings fits ideally with the aggressive vibe. Speaking of the songs, I was surprised to hear that REQUIEM at this stage were closer to a bands like early Destruction than to Witchfinder General. But it is singer Ken "The Witch" Thunder that makes the difference and here we have an extremely high-pitched vocal style that I can't get used to. In addition to these, he tends to bizarre melodramatic outbursts that are hard to describe. But I must tell you that I haven't heard such a weird metal singer for a long time. At the beginning it is very entertaining but after while he's a pain in my neck.

However, as was mentioned earlier, the songs show potential and I must admit that REQUIEM had had a keen sense for theatrical performance. Here and there, it can evoke a feeling of listening to an audio track of an obscure horror flic. The '1985 - 1988' compilation is followed by 'Ex Voto' which was the first EP, released in 1988 by Minotauro Records. Both releases are of a similar style, but the sound quality is a little better here. The second CD is comprised of the only two albums, 'Via Crucis' and 'Live', again released by Minotauro Records. The first thing you notice about 'Via Crucis' is vocalist Eugenio "Metus" Mucci, who replaced Thunder in 1989. For my part, I get on well with Mucci's vocal style. He has a deeper voice, and in addition he avoids any kind of musical silliness. That is the main reason why the debut album 'Via Crucis' is more accessible for me. In contrast to the previous material, the songs are much doomier and slower, despite occasional outbursts of tempo, but still the music has more in common with traditional heavy metal than with doom metal.

It's just a pity that the sound quality is not the best. That is all the more astonishing when one considers that the album has been released in 1990. To me it sounds as if it dates back to 1982. Well, okay, it helps to increase the obscure profile of REQUIEM. The history is completed with a live album which is appropriately named 'Live'. That is really a crude recording, but it's also powerful. Now I can well imagine why the band was so popular among Italian heavy metal fans, because it seems as if REQUIEM developed their full potential on stage and not in the studio. In spite of everything, the band broke up in 1995 and Mario Di Donate started to concentrate more and more on The Black. However, as previously mentioned, this compilation is only made for a limited group of people. But those who have a strong interest in obscure metal bands will not be disappointed with REQUIEM.