Reverist – Dreaming Onward
Omar Qazi’s journey from his medical offices to stages up and down the eastern seaboard certainly ranks as one of the more unusual trips taken to musical fame. Qazi’s musical experiences as an undergraduate student inspired him to learn how to play and, after concluding his time in medical school and launching his career, Qazi believed it was time to find like-minded musicians and pursue a honest to god musical project. It isn’t difficult to hear his vision while listening to the band’s debut, Dreaming Onward. Something of the Florida sunshine these Orlando natives feel has seeped into their music and filled it with a positivity and hopefulness lacking in many modern pop and rock acts. Reverist’s concerns reach far beyond the limited point of view of having a good time and meeting women. Their debut features five ultra-accessible songs that, nevertheless, simmer with intelligence and a fine sense of craftsmanship.
The intelligence, accessibility, and craftsmanship are on equal display in the EP’s opener “Superhero”. Transcendence is another big theme of Reverist’s songs, particularly the desire for it, and it inspires the band to passionate heights. The electronic musical backing is dense, but lively, and the pure rock drumming pumps it up with added muscle. They shift gears slightly on “Machinery”, relying much more on a vocal centered arrangement than in the first song, but the EP kicks off in rousing fashion thanks to the steadiness of the first two tracks. The band’s move on and strive for personal greatness message is underscored on the song “About the Past” thanks to the tune’s manic pulse and furious percussion.
“They Are Weak, But We Are Strong” veers closer to outright rock than many of the EP’s songs, but never deserts melody entirely. The thick keyboard sounds keep things from moving too far in that direction, but Qazi’s melodic singing is another key element that slows any slide towards rock and roll prompted by the deep groove and rugged drumming. The title song brings Dreaming Onward to an appropriate finish. Reverist doesn’t go far in either direction with the final song of their debut and, instead, only expand their scope slightly. Drama isn’t in short supply on “Dreaming Onward” as the song rises and falls with memorable theatricality. Qazi’s vocals ride the swelling and ebbing tides of sound without ever losing his way with the lyrics. He is with every word and phrases each line exquisitely.
The band can withstand some comparisons to modern acts, but no one is really following Reverist’s lead. The world in their songs isn’t viewed through rose-colored glasses and the songwriting achieves a bracing balance of light and dark. Nothing is too overwrought, but the band is capable of going anthemic without ever lapsing into cheese. Omar Qazi’s road to this place has taken some detours, but he and his collaborators have quite a bright future ahead of them.
9 out of 10 stars.