My Northern neighbors living in the cold and dark landscapes of Norway are mostly known for their many legendary and highly feared warriors on the black and death metal scene such as Darkthrone, Emperor and Immortal. One of those few metal groups wandering in the Norwegian mountains, and who try to stick out amongst the herd of mighty black & death metal warriors is TELLUS REQUIEM, and on the battlefield of world domination, they will be raising their sword fighting side by side with their Norwegian brothers of Pagan’s Mind in the name of progressive power metal.
The story of Tellus Requiem was born six years ago in the mind of its creator and guitarist Stig Nergard through one of his sleepless nights. In his search to fulfill his vision, singer Arve Hage Grytbakk was recruited to his army of metal warriors as well as Ivar Hagen Bøe on bass, who is also still serving as one of his faithful companions today. After release of their self-titled debut album in 2010, two of their musicians, frontman Arve and keyboardist Torbjørn Kobberstad, left due to personal reasons. Both of their shoes were then filled by Anders Berg Sundbø on keyboard & classical piano, and Sondre Lyngwar who took over the vocal duties of Arve. Those who thought the complete line-up was finally found were mistaken badly. After the recording of Invictus (The 11th Hour) had begun two more members decided to quit the band, and were replaced by vocalist Ben Rodgers on vocals, and Vidar Ledmann behind the drums. With numerous changes of faces on almost each position in the line-up they have finally returned with their sophomore effort entitled “Invictus (The 11th Hour)” and a fresh new sound as well as a new label company Nightmare Records supporting them on their latest musical adventure. Hopefully this new partnership with Lance King and Nightmare Records bears fruit…
Their second attempt to conquer the attention from the ears of the metalheads worldwide is a concept album, running almost 60 minutes of playing time, and will be telling a story of a dying world. The musical journey begins with the grandiose opener “Ab Aeterno”, sounding like an epic film score. Our journey then continues through the remaining nine chapters of Invictus of which will explore the territories of traditional power metal spiced up with elements of symphonic and progressive metal. Add melodies from the Middle Eastern parts of our world and the voice of a female soprano haunting in the background, and you should be able to imagine what will flood your ear canals. It’s all delivered at a high pace throughout most of the album, but the musicians’ true strength is heard clearly, when they slow down and focus on the beautiful melodies surrounding the songs. Unfortunately it’s few and far between those highlights, and the most polished pearls are the melodic songs like “Eden Burns”, “Reflections Remain” and “Tranquility”, where frontman Ben demonstrates his control of his unique and powerful voice, which probably can be characterized by a typical power metal sound with a little more raw and unpolished edge. He sounds like a somewhat simplified version of Kelly Sundown Carpenter (Beyond Twilight, Darkology, Firewind, and Adagio), but is still getting the job done in the vocal department. Overall the technical level is high, and Invictus is a diverse and well played musical experience finalized by the great mixing and mastering of the legendary Tommy Hansen (Jailhouse Studios, TNT, Jorn, Helloween).
Maybe this record will not be written into the history books about the world of progressive metal music, but there are a few bright spots here and there found on this album delivered by a bunch of talented musicians, that should satisfy some of the hungry progheads appetite out there. If you consider yourself belonging among these “headbangers” then fear not our fellow reader, and give it a spin or two, and be rewarded with some magical moments in metal music from the cold North of Scandinavia. It is definitely a good treat for those with a soft spot for Pagan’s Mind and prog metal icons Symphony X.
01. Ab Aeterno
02. Red Horizon
03. Eden Burns
04. Reflections Remain
05. Twilight Hour
06. Sands Of Gold
08. Redemption (Frontiers 2)
10. Dies Irae