Following hot on the heels of their second EP, The Hellfire Demos II (Nuclear Blast) released just a few short weeks ago, Midlands based Memoriam now drop their highly anticipated, and appropriately titled, début album For The Fallen (Nuclear Blast) on us like a Death Metal atom bomb.
A combined force of Bolt Thrower vocalist Karl Willetts and that band’s original drummer Andy Whale, plus Benediction bass player Frank Healy and former Cerebral Fix/Life Denied guitarist Scott Fairfax, Memoriam were formed primarily as a coping mechanism, a musical escape route for Willetts and Healy following the deaths of Bolt Thrower drummer Martin “Kiddie” Kearns, and Healy’s own father.
With both Benediction and Bolt Thrower taking an indefinite break, the two bands joined forces to help gain some sort of closure, and write some top quality, neck-smashing Death Metal in the process. Incorporating the sound of both bands, as well as adding the belligerent noise of underrated old school Brummie punk/thrashers Sacrilege into the mix, Memoriam are surely the oldest, newest Death Metal band on the block.
Kicking things off with ‘Memoriam’, the self-titled opener is all menacing riffs and low-end pinch harmonics rounded off with a short but rousing anthemic chorus, the end of the track segues into an excerpt of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s 1939 Declaration of War, which in turn heralds the entrance of second track ‘War Rages On’. Originally released last year, this version is slightly different to the one on their first EP, but still just as impressive.
‘Reduced To Zero’ is slow and moody, ‘Corrupted System’ picks up the pace nicely, and although ‘Flatline’ is a punchy mid-tempo song with some great double-kick work and meaty riffs, it’s also where the pinch harmonics finally start becoming a little intrusive. ‘Surrounded (By Death)’ is another bruiser second time around, and the seemingly Slayer and Cannibal Corpse influenced ‘Resistance’ is a further track which has been tinkered with since its initial release last year, before the album finishes, with the near nine minute epic, ‘Last Words’.
For The Fallen, though, isn’t without its flaws. As the album progresses, the lack of a second guitarist becomes evident as Fairfax, although a clearly talented rhythm player, definitely needs some support. Another issue, possibly among some older listeners, could be the vocals. Unsurprisingly over the years, Willetts has lost a little of his familiar, thunderous Bolt Thrower roar, but his barked vocals suit this band perfectly and still pack a hell of a serious punch.
An undoubtedly accomplished first full-length release, For the Fallen will almost certainly make a speedy home for itself on many Metal playlists