Memoriam … Still Loyal
… I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received, and that consequently this country is at war …
Its been a long while since I’ve figuratively taken up the pen and written anything noteworthy or of interest …
That said I have had a few ideas and subject matters slowly gestating and its only until now I’ve decided to put something out in ‘print’ !!!
Its a culmination of several emotions and ideas – since confidently marching into my mid 40’s and not only leaving one pastime behind, and albeit happily settling down on and focusing on my career and enjoying family life I’ve since rediscovered a former passion, or rather reignited the flame for one of my first loves – music !!!
Specifically, as I’m sure you’ve long by now since gathered, heavy music in particular, and have in recent years enjoyed a renewed vigour, a renaissance of late – the flame has been very much rekindled.
It must be pointed out in lieu of several of my favourite all time bands either no longer existing, on hiatus and many other so called classic bands languishing in mediocrity I had resorted to delving into the archives and re living my youth through many bands of yester year.
However, as certain events transpired, amongst the myriad of young upstarts generally leaving me cold and a slew of older bands reforming for one final pay check or another stab at returning to former glory – something else fell across my desk, old school yes, but reinvigorated and rejuvenated with a new found passion and energy, the likes of which have not been seen for quite some time …
Memoriam UK !!!
Formed in 2016 as essentially a cathartic outlet, for four friends to draw upon their combined grief and loss and channel it into a new found force, not only to be reckoned with but bristling with aggressive positivity and well found tempered aggression.
Many of those already following the Memoriam will already understand and know their pedigree, Karl Willetts (vocals) and Andy whale (drums) are formerly of the legendary but now sadly defunct Bolt Thrower.
In part Bolt Throwers untimely demise, fuelled the inspiration for this new beginning, post the untimely passing of drumming legend Martin ‘Kiddie’ Kearns Memoriam was born
The band is rounded out by Bassist Frank Healy (Sacrilege) and Guitarist Scott Fairfax (Benediction) – it would be perhaps doing such an innovative and new project a disservice, but in crude terms a Death Metal Supergroup comprised of members of Bolt Thrower, Benediction and Sacrilege has, naturally been bandied about by both press and fans alike.
Its a fair starting point, however Memoriam is so much more and as such since its formation, whilst comparisons have been made, not unlike Bolt Thrower have transcended I would argue beyond the Grind and Death Metal genre. Whilst Bolt Thrower shared many of the tropes of the burgeoning Death Metal scene, it was very evident that they subsequently went onto polish and develop their own unique take on the genre, which ultimately, they eventually made their own, unmistakably so.
It is fitting, despite being somewhat of a distinct similarity, and after all boasting two former Bolt Thrower luminaries it was to be inevitable that sonically there’d be comparisons.
It is clear that Memoriam have already developed their own definitive style, it is a multi faceted and textured one at that. Whilst not boundary breaking, nor making cheap shots to reinvent the genre – it proudly wears its former influences defiantly, with generous overtones of Doom, Crust, Punk, Hardcore ever present – the erstwhile members three of whom sit comfortably around their late 40’s early 50’s – and no less a veteran of heavy music younger gun Scott Fairfax short of just 40, all bring an incredible amount of dexterity, ambition, revitalised energy and gravitas not seen amongst either new or old bands around today.
It is perhaps the current DIY ethic, perhaps not seen since the early days of the 1980’s that in itself is quite possibly an accelerant or rather, propellant for their steady out put of no less than two demo’s, a single covering ‘The Captive’ and featuring Tam from the legendary Sacrilege no less …
… and subsequently three fully accomplished and highly polished Long Plays – 2017’s debut ‘For The Fallen’ 2018’s denouement ‘The Silent Vigil’ and now 2019’s ferociously epic third instalment of what is an unofficial trilogy ‘Requiem for Mankind’.
Their first ‘opus’ official, the debut ‘For The Fallen is no exaggeration in the claims of it being lauded a truly monolithic masterpiece. I’m a fan, and ergo biased, but it’s on its own merits flawless and leaves you wanting for more at a taught 44 minutes long. Its two stand out tracks as previously heard on the demo’s in a more polished and extended form are Surrounded (By Death) and the gravel grinding, granite smashing Resistance. However, surprise track Corrupted System really ups the anti with its Punk aesthetics and Hardcore Rhythm. Vocalist Karl, clearly is having a lot of fun and catharsis simultaneously showing young guns why this elder statesman is one of, if not the best in the business, it also must be complemented that his distinct accent is ever more prevalent and certainly adds to the authenticity of perhaps what is some of his more lyrically complex work yet.
Well worth observing is the 2nd track in The War Rages On it’s beat down parts and shredding guitar parts swagger with anthemic Hardcore attitude and metallic precision. Whilst Fairfax is absolutely incendiary on the guitar here, Whale and Healy deliver the rhythmic muscle to really give some heavy weight punch.
2018’s ‘The Silent Vigil’ is for me an outstanding follow up, whilst critically acclaimed, its been somewhat maligned for its Lo Fi production.
Personally I feel it fits, and is more in keeping with their late 80’s roots and comfortably sits alongside many of that era and genres classics – that and the confident and workmanlike bass work of Frank Healy is far forward in the mix its far warmer in tone and sonically strides along Whales defiantly restrained drumming, making for a far more aggressive emotive album.
I’ve always hated comparisons, and loathe to do so, but the Prong like attack of From The Flames combined with willets confident melody on vocal delivery make this a firm personal favourite
– my fingers are crossed this gets played when I hope to catch them later this year.
2019 saw the release of ‘Requiem for Mankind’ thus concluding the trilogy for now – do not despair, the questions already been asked and we’ll undoubtedly be getting a prequel and even sequels, there even rumours abound of possibly a covers EP !!!
Shell Shock and Undefeated, the first two singles possibly best represent where Memoriam are at right now – displaying an unbridled aggression and unique sound clearly carving their own path amongst a tired and bloated genre – here they’ve upped the ante with polish and professionalism, skill and dexterity with ease …
Standout tracks include the grinding groove of Austerity Kills Karl’s commentary and social spite are succinctly to the point and couldn’t more relevant today, transcending many of their contemporaries fantasy obsessed stylings.
This is followed by the relentlessly punishing In the Midst of Desolation a truly terrifying display of Whales and Healy’s rhythm section and just exactly why Fairfax is the gate keeper to the vault of riffs.
Refuse to be Led is a bristling thrash classic and easily would go toe to toe with any of Slayers finest and take the crown as undisputed heavy weight contender.
The sterling production from Russ Russell at Parlour Studios has clearly put the band in prime position to realise its musical ambition and makes for definitive and essential listening.
Parting words for now, but all three albums are wrapped in the exquisitely detailed and eerily atmospheric art of Dan Seagrave, naturally under the direction of the band these three pieces make for an unofficial triptych if you will. Moreover much like bands of yesteryear they compliment in tone each album giving a colour and visual tone to the sonically aural assault contained with in …
No more to be said than ‘Grind On’ – S23