One of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal’s most highly-prized singles – “impossibly rare” is how Malc McMillan describes it in his NWOBHM Encyclopedia – is Requiem’s sole 7” from 1980, ‘Angel Of Sin’ b/w ‘Sacrificial Wanderer’, released on the band’s own Sacrificial Records. Formed at the end of the Seventies, the band finally bowed to the inevitable a few years later, with guitarist Steve Slater joining Wolverhampton-based Predator and drummer Karl Wilcox going on to Chase and then, more famously, Diamond Head. The band reformed at the dawn of the twenty-first century (albeit with a slightly different line-up and a tweak to their name from Requiem to Rekuiem) and recorded an album ‘Time Will Tell’ which was originally released in May 2006. Unavailable for some time now, ‘Time Will Tell’ will shortly be back in the shops once more through Dissonance. And there’s more, as the band are now working on a second album…
But we’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves here. The four-piece Requiem first came together back in 1978, as Steve recalls: “We were all fifteen and sixteen years of age when we formed Requiem. I had been in various bands with Gordon [Denny – bass] since we were kids of thirteen, but now as we grew older we wanted to do something that was proper heavy. I met Karl at a separate audition, but we got on so well that he was invited to come and jam with me and Gordon and that’s how Requiem was born. I already had some nice song ideas and as soon as we had rehearsed a few of these we began auditioning singers and Mike [Reid] pretty quickly got the job.”
Steve mentions that Mike had “some great lyrics to go with my guitar riffs,” and in March 1979 Requiem recorded their first demo. “We recorded three tracks at M.R.S. Studios in Walsall – ‘Mists of Hell’, ‘Sinners Remorse’, and ‘Devil’s Shrine’, and to date these have not been officially released. This session features me, Gordon, Karl and Mike – contrary to popular belief they did not feature [Kelvin] Yatta Yates on drums. He had rehearsed with us before Karl joined, but didn’t feature on any studio sessions. The EP was recorded later in the year, in November, at Foel Studios in Welshpool, Wales. The owner of the studio and the engineer on the record was Dave Anderson, who was the bass player who replaced Lemmy in Hawkwind. We recorded just those two tracks over a weekend session, recording them live in the studio and adding a little extra electric guitar, acoustic guitar, and lead vocal later. Things went pretty much to plan apart from when it came to the acoustic guitars. I’m allergic to dog and cat hair and Dave Anderson owned several collie dogs and moggies. It affected my breathing so much that when it came to recording quiet acoustic guitars I could clearly be heard wheezing through the microphone. The only solution was to wrap a scarf around my mouth. This really is not to be recommended when you are already short of breath, but it did the job long enough to lay the acoustic parts down!
“We chose the two songs on the single for very different reasons,” he continues. “‘Angel of Sin’ was one of our faster rock/metal tracks and had become a crowd favourite at our local gigs. It featured a great guitar riff that to this day I’m sure Angus nicked, ten years later, to use on ‘Thunderstruck’,” he laughs. “Anyway, to balance this metal track, for the other side of the EP we chose a ballad called ‘Sacrificial Wanderer’. This track featured acoustic guitar, but also a really heavy Sabbath influenced middle section. These songs were never meant to be commercial material – in fact, we hardly used a chorus back then. We were sort of progressive metal, I guess, with a hint of doom; we were definitely not trying to be commercial in any way at all!”
Like many of their contemporaries, Requiem worked hard but failed to attract the major labels or break through on their own. “After a couple of years of constant gigging the band eventually parted company with Mike,” recalls Steve. “We now decided we wanted a different type of singer, someone with some grit to their voice which Mike didn’t really have. We had also been advised by labels to become slightly more commercial sounding. The new singer was Steve Mills (ex-Trespass) and at this point the band moved a little more into a more mainstream rock/metal sound. We began to include some great chorus hook lines in our songs and recorded several demos with a view to releasing a full album. We also gigged extensively throughout the UK including festival appearances and supported Budgie on their European tour. By 1984 though members were starting to look outside of the camp; the rock/metal scene was changing with the likes of Bon Jovi now attracting all the attention. After struggling on with more shows we eventually made a decision to split and to go our separate ways in various bands and pursue different styles of rock, but to maybe one day return, if and when (as we saw it at the time) rock regained some of its integrity.”
And although it took a long time, the members saw this lofty ambition through. “It was around 2001 that we decided to reform. Karl had found a great rock singer living in the States and we decided to demo some new songs. Some would incorporate a few of my old riffs while others would feature some of my new material. I had grown as a songwriter since the early days and now I also wrote meaningful dark lyrics in a style harking back to the early days with Mike. Mike had been a great lyricist and frontman, but we needed someone with real power and vocal range to deliver the material on the new record, and Mike just wouldn’t have suited what we were trying to achieve this time around. The voice of new singer Paul Parry (ex-Tredegar) really brought the new music to life, and this resulted in us releasing a five-track CD ‘The Black Death’ to the music press and general public in 2002. The response was so good that we all felt the time was now right to record and release the long awaited full album.”
Aside from a new singer, the other thing the guys needed was a slight change to their name. “We changed the spelling of the name to include the ‘K’ as there had been a couple of other bands using the original spelling since we split back in 1984. We thought it would be best to avoid any confusion.”
As mentioned above, ‘Time Will Tell’ originally appeared in 2006, and featured pretty much a full set of new songs “with the occasional old riff thrown in for good measure,” Steve adds. “We felt we had to move with the times so recording new material was definitely a priority for us. Having said this, mindful of the popularity of the 1980 EP, we did also include newly-recorded versions of both ‘Angel Of Sin’ and ‘Sacrificial Wanderer’ to make sure we kept the old fans happy.
“We recorded the album to finish what we started back in 1978,” he continues. “To finally deliver the album that had been so anticipated by so many, and to finally fulfil the band’s true potential. We took the essence of what was the Requiem of the 1980 EP and brought the whole thing to maturity and delivered it to a modern audience. We wanted to represent our heritage of Seventies’ rock music whilst sounding modern and relevant to today’s rock/metal audience. And with ‘Time Will Tell’ I do think we achieved that.”
Certainly the critics were happy, as, on its release back in 2006, ‘Time Will Tell’ did pick up some very favourable reviews. “Yes, we did have some great reviews. Geoff Barton in Classic Rock loved the album and said it was full of huge sounding British rock. Kerrang! also gave it the thumbs up and compared us to Iron Maiden with a hint of doom thrown in. And PowerPlay magazine raved that we had successfully combined Sabbath-inspired doom with crisp melodies. All the reviews had great compliments which were nice to hear. The best buzz of all though came when we heard the album had entered the Burrn! album chart in Japan and this was probably the highlight so far of the band’s career.”
When asked about what he considers to be the album’s best moments, Steve’s not short on choice. “The vocal on the title track ‘Time Will Tell’ is one of them. Paul’s voice is truly world class and it’s great to hear him singing my lyrics with such emotion. Gordon’s bass guitar on the ballad parts brings the whole song together in a way only he could pull off. I also love Karl’s drum intro to the track ‘Sinners’. This shows all the classic technique the man from Diamond Head really has, and it’s great that we got back working together. My own favourite guitar solo part has to be the ride out on ‘Sacrificial Wanderer’. The Gibson Les Paul is so warm you could cook toast on it and the solo takes the track to the end over some great drum fills. My favourite song overall is ‘Black Death’, as it harks back to the days of early Requiem, it’s a proper album track and the Sabbath influenced riff pays homage to my hero Tony Iommi.”
As mentioned above, the band are also now working on Album Number Two. “The new album is entitled ‘Raise The Dead’ and is expected to be released around summer 2020 again on the Dissonance label. It will feature ten brand-new tracks, and deliver more rock/heavy metal with that hint of doom that we’re known for. It’s the same ‘Time Will Tell’ line-up, and we also hope to carry on from our December 2017 appearance at the Hard Rock Hell NWOBHM gig with more live shows and festival appearances in the UK and Europe.”