Memoriam – “For The Fallen” (Nuclear Blast)
With the sad demise of Bolt Thrower following the tragic passing of drummer Martin ‘Kiddie’ Kearns, I’m glad that vocalist Karl Willetts decided to soldier on in this new project, which in no small part is dedicated to the spirit and style of his fallen brother in arms. Undoubtedly a fan of late 80s / early 90s death metal, Memoriam is exactly that being an old school death / grind band from the home of Sabbath – Birmingham! Recruiting veterans Scott Fairfax (guitars), bassist Frank Healy (Benediction, Sacrilege) and Bolt Thrower’s original drummer Andrew Whale, Memoriam commendably continues the fearsome reputation of Bolt Thrower while still being a band in its own right, thanks to the star talent involved here. From the moment the band issued their “Hellfire” demos, it was clear they were onto something big here, especially with Scott Fairfax’s amazing composing! As such, “For The Fallen” is a par excellence release, with perfection etched into it and definitely making it a contender for old school death / grind album of the year. With no fluffy cats in sight, the obvious themes of war, death, loss and grief pervade the 8 rich tracks here. Karl Willetts harsh, menacing tones perfectly complements the uber quality riffs of Fairfax, himself aiming each time for ‘classic’ status (and succeeding!) as he delivers the perfect balance of ferocity with addictive catchiness through monster hooks and gory melodies. Needless to say, the back end is nothing short of an artillery barrage from Healy’s rumbling bass and Whales double bass drum work together launching relentless salvos! Across a range of different tempos, standout tracks like the nihilistic punk grooved ‘War Rages On’, the chugging ‘Surrounded By Death’ and the somber ‘Last Words’ with its beautiful funeral death melodies really capture the mood, although the album as a whole excelled with class and pedigree across the board. Quintessential death metal, played by the old dogs of war whose bite is still as savage and sharp as it was back then.