SummaryFeel the breeze of autumn
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Lacrimas Profundere’s story isn’t an unfamiliar one; as they were yet one of those bands that ended up exchanging their melodic doom/death metal roots for an accessible gothic metal sound in their later years. What I do find note-worthy is how it took them some years before they would actually stand out with their original style. Memorandum is the band’s third album that blends the melodic styles of black, doom and gothic metal into a welcoming mix and while it’s not superb by any means, it’s worth spending time with.
Compared to its predecessor, Memorandum sounds more refined and focused. Relatively short songs that are part black, part doom and part gothic metal exchange a variety of musical ideas, even if they’re partially driven by superficial, yet bearable vocals. Christopher Schmid’s comprehensive growls and screams can be compared to the melodic death metal delivery of Mårten Hansen on October Tide‘s Grey Dawn and while they’re far from monotone, they hardly manage to stand out. Memorandum owes more of its success to the hummable guitars, which makes the album sound easy to the ears and resembles a gloomy autumn day. Anathema’s The Silent Enigma seems like the most obvious point of reference at this point; picture a few stripped down versions of ‘A Dying Wish’ and you’re halfway there.
Some of the guitar licks sound extremely close to those of the aforementioned Anathema record to a point that I can’t help but wonder about some possible rip-offs, but that doesn’t bother me. Neither does the questionable hint at lazy writing; ‘Reminiscence’ makes a fine listen either way, but it starts off with some identical acoustic motives of ‘Infinity’, only to embrace the same tremolo-driven passages of ‘Helplessness’. It’s not something that I view as something negative per se, but it clearly proves that Memorandum isn’t too much of an inspired record. The bigger issue comes down to some undesirable tunes that make the album smell as bad as an expired bratwurst. ‘The Crown of Leaving’ sees the band getting too much in the black metal territory with disastrous results. Forgettable riffs fly above poor black metal shrieks in an annoying manner, while the gothic moans and pianos aren’t delivering much fun, either. At the same time, ‘Black Swans’ captures some of the gothic clichés in the worst way possible; where the piano serves as a main instrument and the vocal duet randomly plays their role between them. With no guitars present whatsoever, one can’t help but wonder whether the rest of the group recorded this while the guitarists were taking a shit, had to go to work instead, or were simply sick in their beds.
Yet, the good clearly outweighs the bad and some of these songs make Memorandum an album that’s worth revisiting for sure. ‘Helplessness’ is both melancholic and bitter; with blackened riffs that sting like wasps making their way between the gothic romanticism that never becomes unbearable, but rather allows the guitars to engage from different angles. It’s a superb track, even though I wish that the smooth riffs near the end would have finished the track instead of the resurrecting main motif. ‘And How to Drown in Your Arms’ gets closer to the band’s previous record with its exotic textures, yet works far better due to its short length and clever arrangements. Waving leads dance around the vocals and pianos and whereas the mood becomes gothic in a distinctive 90’s metal fashion. Sonically speaking, it’s something more along the lines of early Amorphis mixed with pre-gothic On Thorns I Lay and I can’t help but enjoy it. ‘The Embrace and the Eclipse’’ is another highlight, that introduces a wonderful contrast between some weeping violins and hopeful guitars melodies; resulting into a pleasant listening experience that’s feels more relaxing than emotionally draining.
1999 wasn’t exactly a fantastic year for doom/death metal to begin with, yet Memorandum remains one of the better ones from that year and in this band’s case, their finest work.
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