REVIEW: MEMORIAM – “For the Fallen”
Longtime Bolt Thrower drummer Martin “Kiddie” Kearns passed away unexpectedly at the young age of 38 in 2015. This unfortunate event led to the legendary band to end its activities last year, out of respect for their late member and the lack of desire to continue doing something that didn’t feel right anymore, as stated by frontman Karl Willets. But, as it is with everyone, there are things we just can’t stay away from, and with these guys it is music. So after less than a year of Bolt Thrower’s end, Karl and his loyal buddies Scott Fairfax (guitars), Frank Healy (bass, Benediction, Sacrilege) and Andrew Whale (drums, Bolt Thrower’s first drummer) joined forces in paying homage to their brother in the best way they could: by making music. And here is where Memoriam begins.
I used that exact same paragraph as an introduction to Memorian’s ‘The Hellfire Demos II’, I know, but it absolutely suits ‘To the Fallen’ in the same manner, as it is the final product of that EP. If you managed to get your hands on the previous releases by these Brits, you know what to expect here: death/doom metal done right and with great passion and fan service. I say fan service because come on, everyone’s expecting a little bit of Bolt Thrower in Memorian’s DNA, and they deliver to that promise.
‘For the Fallen’ is set to release on March 24th via Nuclear Blast and continues where their two previous EPs left off. In fact, three of the eight tracks were already released as part of the EPs, so there you have it: you already know almost half of the album. The title track opens the record with a cool and dense atmosphere that surrounds the entire album. A simplistic but awesome riff covers the song and dictates the rhythm as a “call for war”, which makes for a very interesting song. “War Rages On” and “Resistance”, previously released on their first EP ‘The Hellfire Demos’, are two songs that maintain the overall aura of the endeavor. The first strikes right in the jugular, with pounding drumming and beautifully crafted riffs, while the second raises the doom portion of the sound up a notch, becoming really macabre and heavy. The slow leads inject a great amount of power in the track.
All of the other songs have something to offer, be it the doomy construction in “Reduced to Zero” or the fast and energetic “Corrupted System” – that actually mixes the death-like speed with punkish elements. Further, the prolific and somber guitar lines in “Flatline” (best song of the album for me) and the similar-paced “Surrounded (by Death)”, have a good amount of aggressiveness, especially in the mid portion, when the dudes go bonkers and explode in a full-on death rampage, while still maintaining the depressive elements, allied to angriness and fierceness. Closer “Last Words” takes the depression and emotional levels through the roof with stellar performances by Karl Willets and Scott Fairfax. The track is slowly built up to be the epic anthem of the album and definitely succeeds in its purpose. Again betting on a dense and macabre atmosphere, Memoriam delivers the final blow while the iron is still hot with a great and diversified track.
As I said in my review for ‘The Hellfire Demos II’, Memoriam stacks its sound with emotions and personal meanings. ‘To the Fallen’ is strong in most parts and despite having some minor setbacks, it doesn’t make the album bland or uninspired. However, the homogeneity of the record and the lack of climaxes do make it a little hard for it to be memorable, but it is a very decent effort, nevertheless.