Memoriam – “To The End” (Reaper Entertainment)
Battle Helm Rating
With little abatement in the grind crushing pace of Memoriam, the British old school death metal supergroup formed in the wake of Bolt Thrower, “To The End” – the group’s 4th full length release – thankfully doesn’t herald any form of cessation, but rather a slight branching out, allowing the varied influences of guitarist Scott Fairfax to seep in occasionally to temper the bludgeoning brutality in places. That said, the 9 tracks are still very much the merciless onslaught that we’ve come to expect on previous albums like “For The Fallen”, “The Silent Vigil” and “Requiem For Mankind”. Legendary vocalist Karl Willetts very much remains the focus with his hoarse old school vocals, although the pedigree of the remaining members should not be understated whether it’s Fairfax himself (Massacre, Benediction (live), ex-Cerebral Fix etc) or bassist Frank Healy (Sacrilege, ex-Benediction, ex-Napalm Death, ex-Anaal Nathrakh (live), ex-Cerebral Fix) and drummer Spike T Smith (Sacrilege, ex-English Dogs ex-Conflict, ex-Morrissey, ex-The Damned, ex-Killing Joke (live)). Indeed, as the addictive whirring machine gun death riffs to ‘This War Is Won’ are spewed out, it’s like the dogs of war unleashed, albeit to some very stylish grooves laced superbly by grim melodies and suave percussive beats as the song rips into your soul led by Willetts’ predatory roar, stalking hungrily before tearing you apart! Still true to their socially conscious roots, ‘Failure To Comply’ has plenty of punk angst stoking the death metal furore, again though with hugely catchy grooves propelled by a massive drum sound while tastefully contrasted by plenty of diamond melodies arranged in just the right places, attesting to the veteran calibre of this renowned quartet. Chugging in with menace on ‘Vacant Stare’, Willetts’ sore throat roughness is in perfect synchronicity to the compelling buzzsaw rhythm of Fairfax and Healy, while Smith’s double bass drumming perfectly paves the cement for the ensuing street fight in brilliant British old school style. Closing in the grim melancholia of ‘As My Heart Grows Cold’, the sound is all too familiar to lovers of Paradise Lost or Katatonia, although when Fairfax’s power riffs topped off by old school death melodies rear their aggressive head occasionally, the mind doesn’t stray far from this immaculate beast of a band. In fact, death metal has never been so swanky.