Rave The Reqviem are a band I first encountered when I got a promo of their 2016 release The Gospel of Nil and I absolutely loved it. Since then they’ve changed labels and I kind of lost track of them until recently when I spotted they had a new release on the horizon – Stigmata Itch coming out through Out Of Line Music. I was so close to going to Sabaton Open Air a couple of years ago (for the second time) purely as they were playing but I couldn’t afford it!
Fans of the band will already know that the original female vocalist was actually the mother (“The Holy Mother”!) of founding member Filip Lönnqvist (“The Prophet”) which is an unusual combination for a rock band. She departed a while ago to be replaced by another talented songstress who has, in turn, handed the baton over to “The Sister Svperior” who makes her album debut with this release. Rest assured there are no complaints on this score, though those original vocal tones from back in the day are still my favourite.
Given the band’s name and the members’ pseudonyms (“The Cantor” on vocals, keyboards and percussion, “The Deacon” on drums and “The Archbishop” playing bass), it’s no surprise there are many religious overtones to the songs. The Prophet is quoted as saying that The Bible is his favourite reference for songwriting material, though I still haven’t decided if they class as Christian metal, or just a metal band with Christian themes! So I’ll focus on the music instead…
I heard Rave the Reqviem before I heard of fellow Swedes Amaranthe and there’s a definite similarity in their sound, though I’d say that the former have more of an electro edge than Elize Ryd’s six-piece. There’s a similar mix of styles which smush together wonderfully well without ever feeling forced, and there’s as much soul-grinding metal as there are bouncy dance segments. Everything is stitched together as well as it has been since album number one.
Bookending the album as a whole are “Oh, The Joy!” and “He Cometh Forth Like A Flower”. Both songs are different from the rest of the album, the opener being a light and airy acoustic hymnal and the closer being an epic metal-style instrumental. They actually make for a clever way of wrapping the whole package up.
But what’s inside the packaging? As with the albums leading up to this one, I find it hard to pluck a couple of tracks out as I genuinely love the whole thing. “Colossvs” is probably the most “middle-of-the-road” number and even it managed to worm its way into your lugs and keep you bouncing through the chorus and humming to the dramatic keyboard sounds. For something darker, “Riptide” does the job to start with (and in some nice breakdowns later on) and then just turns into the catchiest bloody dance rock anthem you ever heard when the chorus hits. It’s unnatural.
The recent single “Holy Homicide” can be watched below, and it’s great to see a cameo from The Holy Mother in there. A shame they couldn’t squeeze her in on guest vocals as well (though she does feature on “I Bring The Light”)! The rousing “Aerial” has a chorus which fits the band’s addictive formula, but surrounded by a mixture of harsh and electronic vocals / beats, all of which should jar and fit together like pieces from 38 jigsaws… and yet they don’t. It just works. On the heavier end of the scale is “Majordomo” towards the end of this beast, a nice pounding number that’s tempered by the calming effect of The Sister Svperior’s vocals.
And that’s the core of it. Let me be honest. I hate dance / techno. Always have. It’s shit. You can like it if you like, I won’t think the worse of you – each to their own. But I can’t stand it. However… blend it in the right way with some guitars and drums and I suddenly bloody love it. Amaranthe, Hyro The Hero, Seething Akira… all of these acts have taken a musical genre I would never listen to and turned it into something I can’t get enough of.
Rave the Reqviem are one of the best at doing it, and deserve to be much bigger than they currently are. On the strength of Stigmata Itch I hope they take another leap up that ladder.
Stigmata Itch is out on December 4th