The Crowder Requiem Review: Sequence

The next set of tracks on the David Crowder* Band’s Give Us Rest are entitled “Sequences” one through seven, named after the Sequentia of the Reqiuem mass. The Sequence of the Requiem mass is Dies Irae, Day of Wrath. It’s a long text, and the Band uses several musical styles to express it all.

“Sequence 1” begins with a sharp pound on a piano, followed by a roaring, cracking sound, like the earth splitting in an earthquake. This driven rock song, full of distorted guitar solos and heavy percussion, expresses the first stanza of the Sequentia, translated here:

This day, this day of wrath
shall consume the world in ashes,
as foretold by David and the Sibyl.

The lyrics of “Sequence 1” include references to the day of wrath, the ashes of cities burning, and the warning of the prophet (a Sibyl is a prophet). The heavy percussion and intricate piano and guitar melismas sound turbulent and violent. The song ends with a chorus singing “ah” on a minor chord, closing with an intensity that leads to the next Sequence.

“Sequence 2” is a choir, singing five stanzas of Sequence text in Latin. It’s a powerful genre they’ve chosen for this section; the power of many voices, crying out on behalf of humanity. It lends a sense of scale to the text. The first stanza they sing begins with the call of the trumpet, waking all of history’s dead and raising them from their graves for the final judgement. We can hear the trumpet’s call playing against the disjunct, percussive chords in the piano. The choir rises in pitch again and again, increasing the intensity until reaching the stanza beginning “Liber scriptus…:”

The written book shall be brought
In which all is contained
Whereby the world shall be judged.

The word for judgement in Latin is judecitur. When the choir reaches that word, we have our first instance of drums, which smack at the word violently as the choir repeats it. The drum set (and some bells) fill out the texture and the choir continues at a slower, more grandiose pace. The piano begins to run up and down the scale as it did in the “Interlude.” The Latin text expresses the totality of God’s judgement and the hopelessness of the human condition.

“Sequence 3” is instrumental. A circular sort of electronic noise is overlaid with a triadic theme that also keeps revolving while drums and bells slowly enter the texture. A guitar picks up a variation of the theme, and piano and what sounds like synthesized strings also come onto stage. The whole thing continues to crescendo in a meditative way, the electric guitar coming into the texture in a dramatic way, and the riff repeating again and again until suddenly it’s over.

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We’re not even halfway through the Sequence, but it’s a very long text, and we’ll look at the rest tomorrow. See you then!

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