Requiem, "The Arrival"
Finland is another one of those Northern European countries that consistently pumps out quality metal bands. Requiem may be young (I think the drummer was still a teen-ager when "The Arrival" was recorded) but they are quite talented within the confines of the music they're creating.
There's something not quite right about the final product on "The Arrival"; I've played it in a variety of systems and have always had to adjust the EQ levels, as it seems to have been mixed very hot. Not really an issue except for nearly blowing my car stereo speakers when I first got it!
The singer, Jouni Nikula, makes some interesting choices when it comes to the vocal delivery. He can do the standard issue rock voice, but tends to use a more operatic approach in most of the songs. He has good range and control, able to shift between a croon and a well pitched scream with seeming ease. The lyrics generally stay away from the dragons/swords/battle cliché's that permeate the power metal world, and if they're pushing a message it's not an obvious one. His voice really makes a difference; I get the feeling it's one of those polarizing things that people will either love or hate. I wasn't sure at first but it's grown on me; my one complaint is that Nikula's voice is too smooth sometimes and I'd appreciate a grittier style in places. His scream, when he pulls it out, isn't quite hair-raising but darn close to it.
So of course there are keyboards present, but they're mixed down enough as to not dominate unless called upon to do so. And as far as keyboards go, Henrick Klingenberg is pretty adept at the flashy stuff ("Whispers") but solid as a backing instrument as well ("Forgotten Path").
This is fairly standard power metal, as far as the backing band goes. Drums, bass, and rhythm guitar gallop along at the usual breakneck pace, though they rely on that pattern a bit much throughout the album. They can bring it down, too, as in the intro part to "Masquerade". The lead guitars of Arto Räisälä and Teemu Hänninen are effective, well played, and cut through songs like "Revival" in a complimentary way.
Not a bad album at all, as far as this genre goes. While not exactly trailblazing, they're quality enough to stand above the fray. They've got a new album out on the Sound Riot label called "Mask of Damnation" and after giving the samples a listen I think they may have actually gotten better. I'm keeping my eye on Requiem; they're young and have promise.