Memoriam – “The Silent Vigil” (Nuclear Blast records)
Hailing from the ashes of acclaimed British death metal crews Benediction and Bolt Thrower, Memoriam’s inexorable rise has been sharper than a broken beer bottle. Immediately nailing their colours firmly to the metal mast with the Hellfire Demos EP in 2016, Memoriam followed that up with their stunning debut album For The Fallen. And now they’re back with The Silent Vigil, keen to keep the cogs turning over in what is now undisputedly one of the UK’s premier Death Metal outfits.
‘Soulless Parasite’ sets the juggernaut in motion with some siren like riffage acting as an early call to arms. The track quickly veers across into now familiar Memoriam territory – sustained granite riffage, satisfyingly steak-sized drums and the roughened edges of Karl Willetts’ dry vocals.
In contrast to the majority of Death Metal crews, thanks to the former Bolt Thrower singer’s clear annunciation, you don’t have to go hunting for the lyric sheet to know what the songs are about. Although for most listeners the overall impact of the shuddering grooves alone are sufficient to maintain interest.
No wonder they’ve managed to chalk off most European festivals in the past couple of years, ranging from Bloodstock to Hellfest. On Saturday (March 31) the Midlanders will be performing on the main Inferno stage alongside such blackened behemoths as Ihsahn and Satyricon.
‘Nothing Remains’ again highlights Memoriam’s ability to write songs that are destructively heavy and yet the aggression is controlled, parcelled up and delivered in steady conscious threads rather than all-out aural bombardment. Timely gaps are permitted to give the songs a chance to breathe and they sound so much better for it. ‘From the Flames’ is another firestorm with a groove hot enough to spark dry tinder into life.
Although Memoriam have generally been satisfied to stick with war as the central theme for most of their songs, there are signs here that they may be ready to spread their net a little further. ‘Bleed The Same,’ a rumbling beast of Jurassic proportions is a slow stirrer, captivating in its own right but then delivering an unexpected intervention when dropping in snippets of Martin Luther King’s iconic ‘Promised Land’ speech.
Right wing extremism is the trigger that set’s Memoriam’s mercury levels rising on the rumbling ‘The New Dark Ages’ while the album’s longest track ‘No Known Grave’ is an insatiable meandering beast of a song that threatens to ignite but the pressure cooker lid is just about held on.
Final number ‘Weaponised Fear’ is an immense closer, the tempo almost teases with your eardrums but when Memoriam kick in with that luxurious groove you know that you’re in the company of masters of their art.
The Memoriam story is fairly well known now, with the band originally coming together to provide a form of catharsis through music among friends, following the death of ex-Bolt Thrower drummer Martin ‘Kiddie’ Kearns. The distinguished CV of Frank Healy (Benediction, Cerebral Fix), Scott Fairfax (Cerebral Fix) and drummer Andy Whale (Bolt Thrower) is such that they need bow to no-one.
Memoriam have come a long way in a ridiculously short time, probably surpassing any original goals they may have set for themselves. They don’t attempt to emulate the Benediction and Bolt Thrower heritage. Two albums in, Memoriam are more than capable of standing on their own feet.